Black, Woman and Single: In Defense of My Sexuality

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If I had a dollar for every time a non-potential dating partner asked me, “Are you dating? Or Why Are you single? “ I would be basking in the sun on somebodies Caribbean resort right now. To a regular person this seems like a natural question but for a person like me who has gotten this question as the first thing in a conversation with loved ones rather than “Are you well?” or “Do you need anything?” I find it to be extremely problematic and dare I say annoying! Especially since these conversations always end up with me having to defend my heterosexuality.

During my adolescence I was always bigger than my peers, and though my figure even-ed out (i.e. height/ weight) by the time I was in high school, by then insecurity had made me its refuge. So when guys expressed interest in me, especially the one other girls liked, most of the time I rejected the gesture. And the ones I did entertain were sexually active at the time and I was not. From college on, insecurity switched from permanent resident to visitor, and I dated  here and there but nothing too serious; None serious enough to bring home and introduce to my family anyway.

So what gives?

Simply put, I am single because at this time I have not met a partner with whom I am interested in pursuing a monogamous and committed relationship. And I am unwilling to settle or compromise my (healthy and reasonable) relationship standards. With so much pressure and criticism regarding black women and singleness, little conversation is on black women establishing healthy relationship standards or having a healthy sense of self worth, which are both crucial components of a healthy relationship. Instead single black women are looked at suspiciously and are judged harshly. And when black women are not subjected to suspicion and judgment, they are force fed inaccurate and discouraging information about black men as potential relationship partners.

According to the 2009 U.S census report that listed 70.5% of black women as unmarried. However, in her piece entitled “Misleading Statistics about Black women” blogger Elegance goes on to say the Census statistic, though true, is actually loaded. The full story is that that 70.5% of single black women include “unmarried lesbian women common-law relationships, women with boyfriends, women who are engaged, women who are divorced, women who are widowed, and women who do not want to be married right now!#” In addition, according to the U.S census report the 70.5% of black women who are single only apply to women between the ages of 25 and 29. The data indicates that Black women marry later and in fact of black women 55 and older, only 13% had never been married.

(Read: Stop Saying Black Men Don't Want Black Women)

This contradicts the dominant sexist and racist discourse regarding black women and singleness while further confirming the need for black women to NAME OUR SELVES FOR OURSELVES by being in control of our own narratives, including the interpretation of data that pertains to us. As a womanist with black feminist tendencies, I am fully against the ‘there aren’t any good black male partners” propaganda and am optimistic about my future relationship prospects with men of the African diaspora.  In the mean time, I will continue to nurture my sense of self worth, maintain healthy and realistic relationship standards and pursue my goals. Going forward the next time I am confronted with the dating question, I will heed the advice of my truth telling therapist…

No need to own other people's stuff or apologize for being single. The dating question doesn’t require an answer.

Next Question?

Liz A. is a woman on a journey of becoming. She is a "warrior poet", an avid journal-ler and is of the tradition of women who write to remain alive. Liz is currently a social worker in training.

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