Graphic By Arefin Bashar
In her latest interview with British Vogue, English actress and activist Emma Watson described her relationship status as “self-partnered,” coining the phrase as an alternative to “single.”
Since the interview, the new term has garnered both positive and negative sentiment online as people become divided over whether “self-partnered” truly justifies one’s singledom — the state of being unmarried or not involved in a long-term relationship. However, rather than debating on what being “self-partnered” means, we should focus on the true problem: society’s misogynistic perception of single women.
Watson’s interview with British Vogue’s Paris Lees sheds light on the unnecessary societal pressures that burden women who approach or surpass the age of 30 while single. She describes her own feelings of stress and anxiety surrounding turning 30 in April because she “had all these ideas” of what her life would look like and what she would have accomplished by that age.
“If you have not built a home, if you do not have a husband, if you do not have a baby and you are turning 30, you’re not in some incredibly secure, stable place in your career or you’re still figuring things out … There’s just this incredible amount of anxiety,” Watson said.
In the interview, Watson described how, despite it taking a long time, she is finally happy as a “self-partnered” woman.
Society has an outdated and unrealistic expectation that single women should be married and have kids by a certain age. This creates the philosophy that women are valuable solely as mothers and wives rather than as the strong, independent people they naturally are. It’s this very perception that is the source of the anxieties many single women face. Single women should not feel the need to fulfill unfair societal expectations. Instead, they should be able to put their own needs and aspirations first without being ridiculed or judged.
Watson’s new term “self-partnered” received many positive and supportive tweets from single women everywhere.
“All about being ‘self partnered,’ I’m happy and single. Just because I’m nearing 30 does not mean I need to be married with kids. Thanks for coining this phrase Emma Watson,” one Twitter user said.
On “Good Morning Britain,” TV host Piers Morgan made his opinion on Watson’s new term clear.
“Where do we get this rubbish from?” Morgan asked. “Self-partnering means you can’t get a bloke right?”
It’s unacceptable that our society allows an international movie actress, UN ambassador, Brown University graduate and feminist activist like Watson to be ridiculed for being happy with herself and for choosing a word other than “single” to describe herself. Watson doesn’t need to be married with kids in order to feel content and fulfilled with her life.
According to a 2018 study conducted by creative marketing agency Hill Holliday and its market research company Origin, more single American women are prioritizing building a professional career over having kids. The study, “Reaching the Modern Independent Woman,” surveyed 1,217 single women (with no children and who never married) and married women between the ages of 30 and 45. It found that 44% of single women ranked “living on your own” as their top priority, 34% ranked “establishing a career” and 27% ranked “financial security” as most important.
Graphic By Hill Holliday and Origin
Today’s women have a strong sense of independence and a desire to be successful regardless of being single or married. Single women should no longer have to endure endless questions from family about why they are single or why they aren’t married with kids. They should be able to enjoy their lives without society’s constricting and misogynistic expectations that limit their potentials.
If Watson wants to describe herself as “self-partnered,” then she should be able to without being mocked or ridiculed. However, the trope of the single woman does not need to be defined by a new term. It should be addressed by society. If society changed its view on single women and changed its associations with “single” to be more positive, Watson wouldn’t need to coin the phrase in the first place and single women wouldn’t have to feel anxious about prioritizing themselves over marriage and children.
Bernadine Sobingsobing is a third-year English major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.