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Emily Atack just nailed the big problem with the way society talks about single women

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Lauren Geall
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Emily Atack

Actor and television presenter Emily Atack took to Twitter to share her thoughts on single shaming – and she just nailed why the way we view being single is so problematic.

It may be a hard pill for some people to swallow, but there’s one thing we all need to accept when it comes to dating: sometimes, women actually want to be single.

We live in a society where single women are still treated with pity. The idea that any woman would choose to be single – and, shock horror, actually enjoy it – is one many people seem unable to grasp. Of course, they assume, any woman who is still single must be on the lookout for a man – that singledom is the result of their failure to secure a partner, and that they must be desperately, hopelessly miserable. So goes the messaging of a society designed – and biased towards – couples. 

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Of course, the main, damaging message behind all of these negative assumptions is that being single is simply a failure to find a relationship – and that’s just not true. That was the message behind a new tweet from actor and television presenter Emily Atack, who criticised the common phrase “how are you still single?” for what it really is – single shaming.

“People constantly say to me ‘how are you still single!?’,” she wrote. “I think they mean well and that’s cool. But being single shouldn’t be seen as a negative!”

She continued: “I became single by choice. Let’s stop making women feel like they’re failing if they aren’t in a relationship!”

Atack isn’t the only celebrity to speak out about the negative attitude society seems to hold towards single women. At the end of last year, Emma Watson went viral for her comments about “self-partnering”, a phrase she coined in an attempt to rewrite the narrative which assumes being single can never be an active choice.

And earlier this week, Girls creator Lena Dunham took to Instagram to embrace – and dismantle – all the destructive clichés that persist around single women. Posting a photo on Instagram of herself with her cats, Dunham wrote: “And it was then, walking to the refrigerator at 3am in her mustard-stained nightgown carrying an armload of cats, that she realized, ‘wow, it feels good to be a living breathing destructive cliché about single women’.”

It’s refreshing to see so many women in the public eye tackling all the negative stereotypes that come with being a single woman in 2020.

Despite all of the progress we’ve made when it comes to equality between men and women, the concept of a single woman continues to be perceived very differently to that of a single man. While a single woman is portrayed as sad and lonely – and assumed to be looking for a relationship at every waking hour – a single man is celebrated and revered, especially when they have a rapidly growing list of sexual partners. 

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“Stop single-shaming me – I don’t need a partner to be valued”

It’s about time the stereotypes society places on single women get thrown out the window. Being single can be just as, if not more, fulfilling than being in a relationship – the only thing that really matters is what works for the individual involved.

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Lauren Geall

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