Is Celebrating Solitude Really An Anti-Feminist Act?


A few weeks ago, poet Tanya Davis posted a short film titled, “How To Be Alone,” on YouTube, earning praise from thousands of people who connected with her words. But not everyone is a fan.

Russell Smith of the Globe And Mail is quick to point out that it isn’t Davis’ video that bothers him as much as the reaction to Davis’ piece: “My opposition is not so much to this innocent piece of diaristic vlogging,” he writes, “but to the culture that upholds it as in some way exemplary of feminine behaviour, as some kind of useful balm for the wounds of a supposedly monolithically married society.”

Smith argues that Davis’ video is “anti-feminist” and “retrograde,” as, in his view, it paints women as weak and in need of instruction as to how to handle their loneliness. Smith goes so far as to assert that the clip “seems to be from a time before the feminism of the 1960s, before the sexual revolution: It reflects a world of women knitting and playing instruments and feeling lonely, a place of purely old-fashionedly feminine interests, where women don’t have economics or chemistry or warfare to keep them busy or distract them in any way.”

But here’s the problem with Smith’s argument: there’s nothing gender-specific about Davis’ poem. At no time does she imply that her words are aimed at women, but rather at anyone dealing with loneliness and the challenge of becoming comfortable with oneself while being alone. The video is a bit twee, and quite reminiscent of the work of SARK (who does tend to focus specifically on women), but I’m not sure I buy Smith’s argument that the entire piece—and the reaction that has followed—is in some way a detriment to feminism.

In a way, Davis’ piece points out that there’s nothing to feel bad about in being alone, despite society’s overwhelming push to marry people off, and that enjoying your solitude can be a wonderful thing. It is more a statement on self-nurturing and not depending on others to help you lead your life—to love yourself without having to be validated by the love of someone else. I don’t think Davis is implying that women need to be pushed to do such things, nor do I think her piece was meant for women’s eyes only—anyone, regardless of gender, who suddenly finds themselves isolated, be it through a breakup, a move, or a death, can most likely understand where Davis is coming from.

So what say you commenters? Is Davis’ piece “anti-feminist” as Smith claims? Or is it just a statement on the power of being alone?

YouTube Video About Being Alone Is Anti-Feminist, Retrograde [Globe And Mail]

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