Women under patriarchy are too often defined not by their own personal development and accomplishments, but instead by the stage they have reached in the patriarchal, heteronormative narrative of dating, boyfriend, live-in, engaged, married, children. We find that we and our wider circle of female friends are constantly subjected to questions regarding where we are on this timeline. This is a means of judgment and a primary way that others participate in socially pressuring you to conform, by constantly reminding you what is expected.
If you reject these questions or are not making what is deemed as the right progress, you are punished, othered, and excluded for your non-participation. In patriarchal society, single women are pathologized, especially as they get older. In contrast, being in a long-term relationship with a man is seen as “success.” But just being in a relationship doesn’t mean you are doing well.
In addition to being too personal for most people to be asking you, questions such as the below:
- Are you dating?
- Do you have a boyfriend?
- Do you live together?
- Are you engaged?
- Are you married?
- Do you have any children? Do you want to have children?
- When do you want to/are you going to have children?
are NOT IMPORTANT. They are irrelevant and useless as measures of how well you are doing in your life. The only reason anyone would ask you these questions is so they can assess and judge you against heteronormative, patriarchal criteria. They also use your answers to compare themselves against you and justify their own lives and actions.
Rejecting the intrusive list of questions above, we have created a list of 20 questions we can ask ourselves to assess our well-being. This type of self-evaluation is feminist, non-heteronormative, and has a balanced view of our relationships with ourselves and others, partner or partners, rather than basing all of our worth and well-being on a single intimate partner.
For the sake of coherence and convenience, we have sorted the questions into 4 categories: Relationship with Self, Relationships with Others, Space and Time. If you find yourself answering “no” to any of these questions, we encourage you to focus attention on these areas and take steps towards a healthier and happier you.
RELATIONSHIP WITH SELF
1. Are you happy?
2. Do you feel fulfilled?
3. Are you eating/sleeping well? Do you get enough exercise and fresh air?
4. What are the areas of your life in which you are challenging yourself to grow?
5. Are there any habits or patterns you would like to change?
RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHERS
6. Do the significant people in your life treat you with respect?
7. Do you feel free to make your own choices?
8. How are your relationships with family and/or friends?
9. Do you know when it is appropriate or necessary to put up boundaries with particular people?
10. Do you have the capability and know-how to put those boundaries up and hold them?
11. Are you comfortable and satisfied with your living situation?
12. Do the environments you inhabit make you feel alert and clear-headed/restful and peaceful?
13. Do you have a low-stress strategy for dealing with mess, clutter, and household chores?
14. What can you do to make your environment or surroundings better reflect you/your personality?
15. What can you do to make your environment more refreshing or relaxing?
16. Do you make some time for yourself every day?
17. Can you be spontaneous with your plans and decisions?
18. Are you spending enough quality time with family and/or friends?
19. When you are feeling highly stressed, pressured and overworked, do you take the time to address your needs?
20. Are you able to say “no” in order to avoid overcommitment?
Are you sick of being defined by your relationship status? What are some better ways you can evaluate your well-being? Any suggestions or additions to this list, please leave them in the comments below.