Those few of you reading these words who hail from a similar culture and time period (western, Y2K onwards) as me will, I’m sure, recognise the musical work I allude to in the title of this week’s post. A few of you, although I would imagine fewer than the few encompassed in the first sentence, might also recognise the line below – which I read today in Simone De Beauvior’s novel She Came to Stay. The line features in the opening chapter as our heroine, Françoise, takes a breather from playwriting in order to sit in a theatre and allow her imagination to transform the empty space. It goes like this:
At this moment, she did not in the least regret that Pierre was not beside her: there were some joys she could not know when he was with her; all the joys of solitude.
Now, I don’t know Pierre all that well yet – I’m only on page 17 – but still, I’m with Simone at this point, and with Destiny’s Child as well, in terms of the independent woman sentiment. To be honest, they’re sort of saying the same thing aren’t they? They just express that thing differently due to the conventions of the particular forms they work with. Poptastic R&B requires the crude articulation of a desire for material things that just isn’t necessary in existential literature. One form is not, because of that, inherently superior – as some snobbish cultural commentators might have you believe. I know this, even though on Sundays I like to read literary tomes and think of myself as an intellectual. The important thing both works tell us is that solitude is beautiful and joyous and that romantic love especially is wont to fuck it right up by interrupting one’s me-time and creating the expectation of certain objects and behaviours which society dictates people in relationships should gift eachother and adhere to. These include, but are not limited to: sexual attention, houses with a mortgage, sympathy, babies, diamond rings, fidelity, and, in worst-case scenarios (I’ve been there babes), diary access so that one’s lover can always be sure of one’s whereabouts.
Of all these expectations, the one that has really got on my tits this week is the diamond ring. Babies and sex are fine by me single ladies. I can forgive you for wanting those things, if you do, because you, like me, are a human with certain biological desires that no amount of French feminist fiction will eradicate. But wanting a diamond ring – wanting a marriage in fact – is slightly less fine as far as I’m concerned. And I don’t even think my disdain is to do with jealousy (although I’m willing to concede it might be).
To want marriage above all else you could possibly have in this life very possibly marks you out as totally pathetic (or at least as totally submitting to oppression). Particularly if once you achieve the betrothal that will eventually lead to that marriage the first or second thing you do is take a picture of your diamond ring with a mobile phone camera, upload the picture to an online social network – frequented by old school chums, distant relatives and minor celebrities you once met in GAY, when you were fun – and caption it ‘fairy tale’.
Just FYI: fairy tales were written in olden times. When ‘doctors’ used to relieve headaches by literally drilling into the patient’s skull to release pressure, or demons (I can’t remember which – the details of my year 9 history syllabus are somewhat hazy now – but I do know this: they didn’t know about paracetamol then, apparently). We’ve moved on, people. We no longer need a chivalrous cad to climb up our hair and visit us in a tower. We can chop off our own hair, escape from the tower (even though we’re bit scared of heights) and then rock a bleach blonde pixie crop and pout into the mirror wondering whether we are too old for pink hair (is one ever too old for pink hair? Seriously, I need to know), or whether an outrageous dye job might ruin our serious academic career aspirations.
Freedom is Very Important. Which is why I capitalised the last two words of the previous sentence. If you’re fortunate enough live in a country and a family that offers you choices, to be reading these words on a computer
or smartphone or tablet, to be feeling sorry for yourself because you are sans lover, then rejoice! For you are free. Your freedom is to be celebrated with independence – despite what the rest of the big bad world suggests, you owe it to all those who are not free to milk your own freedom for all that it holds. So fuck the rest of the world – especially the coupled ones who use their social networking profiles to PR their lives. These are not happy people. These are not soldiers who have tasted freedom. These are people who are in metaphorical chains (and sometimes real ones, in sadomasochistic fantasies).
Being free means being the mistress of your own fortune. Spending an unexpected £300 windfall on books to educate your mind (fuck the credit card bill – this is war), wearing lipstick to bed just because you feel like it, choosing to have sex or not to have sex depending on the proximity of available and attractive lovers, riding into combat on the back of a horse, wearing only nipple tassels and a chastity belt. It means indulging in love or indulging in anarchy or indulging in violence at whim, and accepting the consequences. Most importantly, freedom means that the responsibility for having a totally fucking fantastic, fulfilling time lies on your shoulders alone. Throw your hands up at me!
N.B. The only time it is wise to reconsider one’s independence is if the world unexpectedly produces a comrade you can stand shoulder to shoulder with. Like a brother, or a sister, except one you can legally have sex with. This is harder than it looks and will never result in you describing any aspect of your life as ‘fairy tale’.
And if you do find a comrade, my advice: request Sundays off.
Occasional solitude does not get old.