• The Festival Celebrant

Thanks, Emma Watson! (and Gwyneth Paltrow)

Updated: Jul 7, 2020

I've been up and about for less than an hour and I've already been inspired. And by a morning news bulletins at that. How unlikely!

Emma Watson has announced that henceforth she'll describe herself as 'self-partnered'.

Cue lots of groaning about 'flaky millenials' and Narcissism.

But hang on.

It could be argued that Emma is usefully tackling a contentious issue in our society - what to make of singledom. The usual response is sympathy, even pity -

"Oh, Never mind love! There's plenty of time. You'll find someone".

Just think of the image of the sad, frustrated spinster, so common in popular culture. The unmarried woman who becomes frustrated and unwilling companion and carer for her ageing and ailing mother. Or ends up living with her sister and brother-in-law, bitterly observing and resenting their domestic bliss.

And it is disproportionately women who are saddled with this stereotype. Single men are more likely to be congratulated on their 'freedom' and encouraged to take advantage of it.

So maybe it's high time this attitude was challenged, and having a high profile advocate for change can be helpful. Even if they initially attract ridicule, ridicule prompts a response, a conversation ensues and awareness is raised.

The fact is, there's nothing inherently sad about being single. Of course, many single people suffer sadness and loneliness - I've been through it myself and I know how hard it can be. But many more don't. On the contrary, many are very happy in their singledom. What Emma has done is acknowledge this simple fact. She's effectively saying that for now she has all she requires within her self to create happiness and a sense of fulfilment. I think that's a feeling worth promoting and celebrating.

Oh! And that reference to Gwyneth Paltrow. What's she got to do with Emma Watson's announcement you may be asking?

Well, nothing directly, but she introduced us to another novel concept, 'conscious uncoupling' and was roundly ridiculed for it. 'Crazy LA nonsense' was the widespread response, or 'deluded people, in denial about the role of their own bad behaviour in the breakup of their marriage'. Well, possibly.

But how about looking at it another way? How about seeing it as a conscious attempt to provide an alternative to the acrimony, name calling and blame slinging that is often the landscape of 'divorce'. That very word, even now, carries a weight of judgement, of implied failure, of blame. Perhaps it's time we did have an enlightened alternative option? Perhaps we should call it conscious uncoupling, perhaps not. But whatever we call it I welcome the concept.

So thanks, Gwyny!

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