Does it ever cross your mind that Beyonce’s feminist quest went backwards? That 2008’s All The Single Ladies’s rallying cry to all those left on the shelf, wasn’t quite the turbo-charge that it might have been? In terms of empowerment? Because that’s what single implies, doesn’t it? Left. There’s no active choice inferred by ‘remaining single’. We are all born single and single we stay until, Praise Be (in the vernacular of The Handmaid’s Tale), we are chosen.
But, perhaps B’s previous incarnation as centrepin of Destiny’s Child saw her hitting on something nuggety in ‘Independent Women’. What if, when people ask ‘Are you married?’ or the mindlessly spiteful ‘Did you never marry?’, we could change up the conversation a little by answering, ‘No. I’m independent.’ Or imagine if those same curious types were to phrase their probing differently and ask, ‘Are you married or are you independent?’
Why not allow women who haven’t done the ‘public display of a private passion’ ritual to move on from the unplucked flower narrative of a millennia? We are born single but we are not born independent. We learn that and we earn that. It is proudly won. Why can’t we achieve independence as the collateral gain to solo travel? Because language can corrode but it can also refresh and educate and give small girls another scenario to visualise beyond the white dress: the adventurer, the explorer, the self-determiner. After all, it’s a journey, not a predicament. Women are not born as problems waiting to be solved. Not here guys. Not now.