Reflections on love and patriarchy from a single woman in quarantine.
By viginia vigliar
Quarantine has brought a lot of feelings up for many, a collective wave of anxiety has pervaded the world, fear is rising, and with it so is self-reflection. In moments of vulnerability like these, in a couple-centred patriarchal world, singles tend to ponder over our relationship status whilst home alone.
In the many conversations I am having these days, I have noticed worries in my single friends, and in myself, that unveiled the conditionings around relationships in our society more intensely.
I wish to acknowledge this worry and perhaps offer some guidance on why we pressure ourselves in this way about this particular topic, and how to accept circumstances and trust our life processes.
So, how many singles here have had a moment of “Oh God I’m alone in this, I have no one”, either self-victimising or feeling envy for those who are at home with their partners? If you did, you are not alone, we are all conditioned to think of ourselves as incomplete or more vulnerable if we are not in a relationship.
The other day, a friend I had not heard from in a while first asked me how I was, then asked me if I felt alone. Out of all questions, this was the second she asked me. In another call, a friend commented on the courage and strength of all single people at this time. I know they both meant well, but it reinforced my conviction of our conditioning.
We live in a Lobster-movie-type world that makes people feel bad for being alone. The movie, where singles have ten days to find a partner or are turned into animals, is not so far from reality. The couple-centred and heteronormative society wants singles to focus most of their time into finding “the one”.
This idea of love is a patriarchal social and cultural construct that is hetero-centric and not in touch with reality. The romeo&julietcantlivewithoutyou type of love has been normalised and accepted in our culture and it has created problems for both singles and couples. Divorce is rampant because many people do not accept communication, polyamory or overcoming obstacles as part of what developing a partnership entails. We are lost in a dream.
The extent of the romantic love obsession is reflected in the numbers: in 2017, Americans spent 18.2 million dollars on valentine’s day, showing advertisers and marketers where the money is at. There are around 57 million Tinder users around the world, and that’s just one of the many dating apps currently in existence.
This frenzy around having to find love has left many singles with the anxiety of finding their other half. The idea of love under the patriarchy, in my opinion, has been one of the biggest Truman shows of our lifetime, leading many to look for love through the lens of illusion. People look for someone to complete them, not complement them. This to me, it explains the myriad of failed marriages and relationships.
The prevalence of a dependency-based and toxic idea of love is problematic on so many levels, and it might be one of the reasons why you feel alone. Some feminist call it the myth of romantic love, and explain how it is also used as an instrument of control over women, keeping women occupied and entertained and therefore docile.
Love is absolutely not how we have been taught to perceive it, it is a dance with someone that starts with you happily dancing alone.
As my friend and fellow feminist Minna Salami Tweeted “The way that we are conditioned to do relationships has nothing to do with love. And to live without intimately knowing love is to not live at all. Not love in some romantic sense btw, but love as a borderless, fearless state without preconceived roles or ideas.” and continues “So many men ultimately feel unloved in their relationships because they are. They choose patriarchally-conditioned women who make them feel powerful rather than liberated women who are their equals (a precondition for love). Any woman who truly loves men hates patriarchy.”
Acknowledging the construct of romantic love and the way we have been taught to do relationships can make us explore another side of love, one without conditions: the love of the self or love in a partnership that transcends power hierarchies.
“The way that we are conditioned to do relationships has nothing to do with love.” minna salami.
Love is absolutely not what we have been taught to perceive it, it is a dance with someone that starts with you happily dancing alone. So, when you are sad about being alone in your house these days, don’t message a random person for validation, but perhaps try and understand why you feel like this. Or do something you have always wanted to do, the time to find love will come.
Also, know that right now there are hundreds of individuals who are stuck in quarantine with a partner they despise, there are women locked in their homes with their abusers, and there are many families currently struggling to work from home with a toddler.
It is important to accept the reality you are in at the moment and shift your perception of relationships. Unveil the patriarchies that exist inside you, and in a spiritual sense: just close your eyes and trust the process. Work on your self worth and on nurturing and accepting your aloneness, figuring out where it comes from, and then go out there and find a love that fits reality.