Being nearly 25, unmarried, female and from Kyiv

Being thus is a flashing green light for anyone who is dying to quote out loud that awesome thing they read this morning on the metro in a women’s magazine. 

Being thus is that pause in conversation.

Being thus is the following phrase: “Get married, you can always have affairs later!”

Being thus is remembering Yaroslava, whom someone else remembers with “…and for some reason, this beautiful girl just didn’t have a husband. And then she died.”

Being thus is a prickly blanket of loneliness even if you are not lonely. 

Being thus is comparing yourself to those wilting teabags that are saved in the little dish in the cupboard above the sink. 

Being thus is telling people that they sound as though they are from a village. 

Being thus is not telling people your whereabouts. 

Being thus is an intimacy. 

Being thus is being pitied and adored.

Being thus is a passing glance.

Being thus is whispers hanging in the air like cobwebs in the damp-stained corners of rooms with high ceilings.

Being thus is digging at a clump of frozen raspberries with a spoon.

Being thus is an invitation to the parties of your parents’ friends. 

Being thus is advice on how sex prevents cancer – “but I’m having it” – “but you’re an idiot.”

Being thus is a conversation that gets spread outward and outward, like butter.

Being thus is a reassuring smile from beneath a veil from a woman in a church. 

Being thus is the looks from your neighbours. 

Being thus is the quiet lassitude of the swallow-streaked evening skies, and the kettle boiling right as he calls. 

Loosely inspired by the infinitely superior Being Poor (in case you’re wondering).

9 thoughts on “Being nearly 25, unmarried, female and from Kyiv

  1. Being a strong woman, why do you buy into this bullshit? Why would anyone who is educated, privileged, well-traveled and earning her own income need to feel anything but disgust at this? Maybe I just can’t relate but I still want to ask: why do you care? I understand about needing to get things off your chest, but why do you perpetuate and legitimize what’s going on? I wouldn’t dignify this with responding.

  2. Tabby, you have your answer in your comment. You can’t relate.

    Although, allow me to ask a question as well:

    If you’re walking down the street, and someone shouts a sexist insult at you – does a part of you care? No matter how strong or evolved or confident, does a part of you feel the slightest bit hurt and/or offended?

    Now imagine, for a moment, if the person delivering said sexist insult is someone you’re close to, someone you love and respect.

    I don’t believe that strength always means being silent. I also don’t believe that I am “perpetuating” or “legitimizing” anything here. I am telling a story. Perhaps to you this story is unimportant, but that says something about you, not me.

    Honestly, you remind me of this woman who went off at me for daring to bring up having to deal with male-dominated spaces in my life. Her response was along the lines of – “male-dominated? What? There is no such thing! Pah! Why should I care?” Made me think she’d never been to the Middle East, or Ukraine, or, for that matter, down the street. She struck me as someone who rarely looked beyond the borders of her own existence.

  3. It’s not just women who get some of these comments. My grandmother asked my mother if I was gay; a cousin threw my unmarried status in my face during an argument as proof of my immaturity; my mother sometimes starts gently nudging me about grandchildren as though I have some sort of duty to carry on the family name; an upstairs neighbour flat-out told me to get a girlfriend, as though that’s just like buying a new suit. I’m not yet at the stage where married friends start trying to set me up, but it’s coming. For some people, being single is being less than a whole person, and they can’t help showering you with clumsy pity and unsolicited advice: it’s like having a conversation with someone whose denture doesn’t fit. It’s worse at those times when you start to feel yourself agreeing with them.

    Natalia isn’t accepting sexism (and woe betide, I think, anyone who expected her to): it’s a brief description of what it’s like not to give people what they have no right to expect from you, but do anyway; people who love weddings so much that they’ll even suggest a loveless marriage spiced up with extra-marital affairs just to get one. I mean, come on: it’s just a fancy-dress party with gallons of booze. You can have that on New Year’s Eve around here without someone having to mortgage their future to achieve it.

    In any case, the above poem doesn’t accept any of the comments it reports, just as ‘Being Poor’ doesn’t accept the state of poverty; just as I didn’t go out looking for anyone who was interested the day after I spoke to my neighbour. Not everything in life is about fighting the good fight. Get over it.

  4. Squa’s got a point. I’d still argue that in Ukraine, single men have it easier than single women. There’s the idea that a single man just doesn’t want to be nagged by some harpy (naturally, all married women are harpies) until the end of his days. So he’s just kicking back and having fun.

    There are those that judge single men pretty harshly, but it’s usually assumed they remain single out of choice. Women do it because they’re “ugly, stupid or both.”

    I think it’s different in Britain, where you really do hear some seriously harsh words levelled against single men on a regular basis. I don’t understand it. Marriage isn’t for everyone. Long-term relationships aren’t for everyone either.

  5. Mind if I gush a bit? 🙂

    Being thus is a beautiful, intelligent, talented, edgy, chin-up-high gift to the world.

    I love the way you put your feelings into words.

    I also love how you are an empowered feminist who understands that good men bring out something unique in women.

  6. Thank you for your kind words, Kinzi.

    I think it certainly doesn’t apply to all feminists – seeing as many of us are not partnered with men, but then again, a relationship doesn’t have to be romantic to be meaningful.

    I brought up Reynolds Price recently on this blog – being one of his students was a profound, important, unique experience for me, and he certainly wasn’t a boyfriend, you know what I mean?

    I generally think that good people can bring the best out of each other, if they try to connect with another person on a greater level.

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