Danya Ensing is a 19-year-old student at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto, and a Feministing reader. Last week, she posted this video over on the Community blog, and I thought it was so great that I wanted all our readers to watch it.
Danya didn’t realize she was a feminist until a few years ago, but once she did, she started seeing gender everywhere. “What got me really interested in feminism was the way I felt as a single, young woman when I moved to Toronto. I noticed in a big city the way that men looked at women (myself included) on the street, the comments that were sometimes made, and overall the way that I, as a female, was told to conduct my daily life (don’t go out past a certain hour, don’t walk alone, look people in the eye, etc).” Now, Danya explores feminist ideas and the representation of women’s bodies in her art and photography.
A little while ago, Danya had a few things to say about the emphasis that our culture places on romantic relationships for women. Specifically, she objects to the way that people try to comfort someone who’s just gone through a break-up, which is usually by reassuring them that they’ll surely find someone else and that will make everything alright. The assumption that a long-term relationship will happen and will bring happiness, Danya argues, ties those two things together, setting us all up for failure.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, even the staunchest feminist can start to feel crappy if they’re single. But, Danya reminds us, “there’s something so valuable about not being in a relationship and not having to put the effort into a relationship, because you have so much time to invest in other people and to love people around you like your family, and your friends, and people in the world.”
If you are single this Valentine’s Day, and resist the culturally-mandated misery. “Why not,” Danya suggests, “work through improving yourself and getting yourself to a place where you’re really proud and confident of yourself instead of finding that confidence in someone else? Because if you have the mentality that eventually you will meet someone else and be happy, on some level you are filling and insecure void in yourself with someone else.”
Full transcript below the jump.
Hello my friends. Today, I wanted to touch upon an issue called relationships. This video is going to be mostly geared towards females and girls, it also applies to boys but not as much. Allow me to explain.
Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of sentences that include phrases such as, “I’m so excited for when you get married.”
Or, “When you are in a relationship.”
Or something like, “When you find your soul mate.”
When you get married, when you’ve in a relationship, when you find someone. And they usually end in something like “You’ll be happy.” Or “I’m really excited for it.”
The major issue I have when people say things like this is when girls are raised in an environment and a culture when they are told their entire life that when they get married or when they find someone special, it becomes expected that you are going to get married or you are going to find someone special. And I do realize that this is because statistically most people do end up in a permanent relationship for their life, but I also think it’s an incredibly unhealthy mentality to have. It creates an issue where they are looking for that person and if they don’t find that person, it seems like something is wrong with them.
If a guy is 40 years old and isn’t in a relationship, he’s just considered to be a bachelor and to not want to be in a relationship. But if a woman is 40 years old and not in a permanent relationship, she’s looked at as unvalueble, and that she can’t find someone, or not attractive and that nobody wants her. It’s not her choice to be single, it’s that she can’t find anyone, therefore she is single.
This also creates a situation where happiness is linked to a relationship, and that if someone is not in a relationship or a permanent relationship for their whole life, then they are obviously not going to be happy. But “relationship” and “happiness” are not synonyms. And lately it seems like I’m the only one who’s using a thesaurus.
And way too often I see people giving relationship advice after someone’s been through a breakup. They say things like, “It’s ok, eventually you’ll find someone new. When one door opens another one closes. Just wait it out, you’ll meet new people.” Which is probably the most ridiculous and self-harming way to deal with a breakup and relationship that I’ve ever heard.
Instead of focusing on how you’re eventually going to meet the right person if you’re single or if you’ve gone through a break up, the best thing that people can do is focus on themselves and the people around them. There’s something so valuable about not being in a relationship and not having to put the effort into a relationship because you have so much time to invest in other people and to love people around you like your family, and your friends, and people in the world. Why not work through improving yourself and getting yourself to a place where you’re really proud and confident of yourself instead of finding that confidence in someone else. Because if you have the mentality that eventually you will meet someone else and be happy, on some level you are filling and insecure void in yourself with someone else.
I really encourage people to start using the word “if” instead of the word “when”. IF you get married, IF you’re in a relationship, because then it doesn’t create this situation where someone feels like they’re missing out on something if they’re not married.
Singleness is beautiful, and I think that really needs to be emphasized a lot more than it is.
So IF I get married and IF I get into a permanent relationship, that’s awesome. But I also think it’s amazing to see really strong, independent women who don’t need to be in relationships and don’t feel vulnerable and unloved and unhappy if they don’t have someone else. Because I recognize that I am so immeasurably valuable and beautiful and loved by so many people in my life that I don’t need one other person to complete me and to make me feel like I’m special.