Guest post by Chinmay Manoj
Champaca had a book talk on Single by Choice published by Women Unlimited and with the Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI) on 5 November 2019. The book is a collection of 13 essays written by single women. The essays in the book are revelatory to the experiences, discrimination and hardships that single women face in their lives. But it is not sad. These women are single by choice!
I always take something back from the talks, discussions and events that I attend. Sometimes it is a poem, sometimes it is a valuable piece of information, sometimes it’s or a song, but most of the time, it is an unlearning in some form that I take home with me. I learnt that loneliness is always associated with singlehood, But not many people talk about loneliness in crowds or loneliness in a relationship. And one can, of course, be happy and content in singlehood. This event celebrated singlehood just as much as it talked about the hardships of life.
Sharanya Gopinathan, one of the writers of Single by Choice, said “The institution of marriage is not woman-friendly at all.” I kept the sentence with me and took it back safely. It made so much sense to me because she summed up her marriage argument in one sentence. She later spoke about how we grow up basing our lives around the idea of marriage, sooner or later. “You know, you have a best friend and you tell him, if we're single when we're 50, then let's marry each other,” she said. Love and sex is nice, she said, but the “all or nothing/now and forever” aspect of marriage actually seemed unromantic for her.
Sharda Ugra, a writer in the book and a sports journalist, said that “Men told me that the only reason there are women sports journalists is because they like looking at men in tight shorts. 60 women writing for that?” She said, laughingly. On a more serious note, she said, “We (women) share so much in common - how we look, what we feel, etc. But there is another thing we share in common and that is guilt.” .
As she said that, I looked around. The bookstore (where I now intern) was filled with so many women and far fewer men. I always wonder why boys and men my age don’t attend feminist events or even talks on gender. After listening to this I felt the need to talk to men about our male privilege. A privilege that lets me have no such guilt.
I had a hot cofee in my hand with so many questions in my head that needed answering. What is singlehood? Is it being unmarried? Then what about being in romantic relationships? Is it by choice? What is the popular image of singlehood in an Indian society?
But for now, I am just glad that I was part of this discussion.
I hoped it wouldn’t rain until I got home.
Chinmay is an intern at Champaca.