One blogger’s personal bridge to nowhere

Singles are all pathetic losers

In this Guardian op-ed, Sarfraz Manzoor seems to think that the opposite of being in a relationship is despairing and debilitating loneliness.

I have been both single and in relationships and recalling my single days I had freedom all right: the freedom to return to an empty house, the choice to feel achingly alone at weekends when my friends were with their partners, the right to wonder if I would ever know again how it felt to be loved and wanted and missed, the liberty to sleep alone secure in the knowledge that no one gave a monkey’s toss about whether I was alive or dead. Let’s not kid ourselves: the freedom that being single gives is a hollow- eyed freedom, a prison that pretends it is a palace.

Only couples can be happy.

Only couples can be happy.

With all due respect to Mr. Manzoor’s personal life, that seems a little melodramatic, more befitting of a cinematic collection of stereotypes than of a real consideration of singledom. He has created an entirely unnecessary dichotomy between being in a relationship (and, one can presume from the tenor of his piece, an entirely traditional one) and enduring a pathetic and loveless life. This characterization misses entirely the point of those who would defend bachelor(ette)hood — that the only option besides a relationship is most emphatically not desperate spinsterhood. Here’s Manzoor’s equally misguided take on the gender issue:

…had a man written an article extolling the virtues of a guilt-free middle age without serious relationships or children he would be dismissed as a sad loser trying to hold onto the last strands of his youth.

I too would react differently to a man writing such an article about “a guilt-free middle age” than to a woman doing so, but that is not because of a double standard for men that Manzoor seems to perceive. Rather, this is because a woman’s celebration of the freedom of being single occurs in a very different historical and societal context — namely, that women, not men, have been the ones shackled to the inequities of patriarchical relationships. In this sense, of which Manzoor seems completely unaware, championing singledom as a principle enjoys a singular importance regardless of the particular benefits of each state for individuals.

And even though Manzoor claims to acknowledge exceptions to his morbid characterization of being single, he’s entirely ready to paint this large swath of the population with a rather bitter diatribe (with undertones, I would venture, that apply to one particular sex more than Mr. Manzoor is likely willing to admit).

Those who shout loudest about how they absolutely love being single aren’t more sophisticated than the rest of us – they’re the most screwed up. You show me someone in their late 30s and older who chooses to be single – and I repeat, chooses – and chances are they are a dysfunctional control freak either too neurotic, too immature, too blinded by ambition or too frightened of growing old to be capable of holding down a meaningful relationship.

I retain the right to be an immature and neurotic control freak and in a relationship, thank you very much.

(image from flickr user Eric & Cynthia under a Creative Commons license)

February 18, 2009 - Posted by | Feminism | , ,

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