The Feminization of Freedom: An Analysis of love, happiness and freedom from the perspective of single, never-married, childfree women of color
This article addresses singleness as a state of being and not a transition for single, never-married, voluntarily childfree women of color. As the characterization of adult romantic relationships has evolved, the meaning of singleness has also gone through a transformation. My research applies the theoretical frameworks of feminist standpoint theory and decolonial feminism through an intersectional lens to explain how women of color experience love and relationships in a non-traditional way, and how they create a singular corridor that allows them to exist on the boundaries of heteronormative marriage and romantic love. I examine two research questions: 1) How do never-married, voluntarily childfree women of color experience and feel about romantic love, singleness, sex, and attachments in society? and 2) how do their experiences within these contexts construct a sense of self? My study utilized a qualitative research methodology with an inductive inquiry approach. I conducted forty semi-structured interviews with women between the ages of 36 and 61-years-old. I argue that these women have a unique positionality in society. They are women who have remained free from the heteronormative obligations to a husband or children, and they are also women who have not had the privileges of some of their white counterparts. Therefore, they have a group-based experience and knowledge that is rooted in group identity.
This article is being submitted for publication in November 2023
Film and the Single Girl
I am revising a paper that examines the roles of single women characters in movies. Movies portray women who live a single life, outside the perimeters of the wife and mother paradigm in ways that reveal social perceptions society has of these women. Film, as an extension of, and an accompaniment to culture, continuously creates, defines, and redefines gender and accompanying gender norms and generational expectations. I performed a content analysis of the portrayal of single women in film with single women as main characters. The films span multiple decades and genres from: a mock-documentary, femme-fatale thrillers, romantic-comedies, female “buddy” films, and coming of age films. I included films with cultural diversity and representations of women of color, as well as more typical single-white-female films. I used an inductive, narrative inquiry approach, through a feminist lens, to analyze themes from twenty films who have single women as main characters. I hope to have a revised version of this paper out for review in early 2024.
The Autonomous Woman
Whether we refer to women as childfree or childless, women’s fertility or lack-there-of is still placed forward in both terms. With the emergence of women who have remained never-married, single and childfree a new way to describe these women is necessary. The current terminology is inadequate and imperfect; and although there may not be just one way to refer to these women, I proffer the that these women should not be defined by the children they chose not to have or the marriage they did not enter. These women are an entity on to themselves and should be described that way. They should not be viewed as the never-married or childfree but as autonomous. These autonomous women are self-governing. They are independent and have power to make their own decisions. Defined as “their actions also reflect their genuine interests and/or values. Autonomy is a bit broader than independence, although the terms are often used interchangeably, in that, independent actions need not be driven by values.” Their independence is born of a need and desire to live their lives in a fashion that is conducive to their beliefs and self-sufficiency. These women are not free from burdens as self-governance is hard, and they have responsibilities as much, if not more, than other people. They are not liberated as they had nothing and no one to be released from. They did not gain their independence from eradicating themselves from a bad marriage or an unhappy relationship. They have chosen not to be mothers, but they are no martyrs. This was not a tortured decision fraught with doubts and fears, but a choice to live a singular life than what might be expected – an autonomous life.
This work will be a part of my dissertation and hope to be the genesis for a book.