Sooner or Later We All Eat Alone

by | April 9, 2010
filed under Feminism

I moved to New Westminster at the beginning of the month. On the day of the move I was pretty tired after unpacking and decided to take myself out for dinner. After I got back I was talking with a friend, who observed, “I guess you’re not one of those people who’s afraid to eat out by themselves.” I was kind of surprised. That’s a type?

She mentioned my solo adventure to another friend, who said to me, “Oh my God, I could never do that!” She said if she ate out alone she’d always feel like people were looking at her and thinking how lame she was. “Once, I almost went to a movie by myself, but I couldn’t do it,” she added.

Seriously? When I’m out on a date or with friends I certainly haven’t been spending the time looking around the restaurant or movie theatre and feeling sorry for all the lame single people. Maybe I’m naive, but if there are people who actually do this I’m kind of surprised. And even if there are, why do people care?

I raised this incident on a comment on a blog post at The Mankini Revolution about the pressure on women to avoid singledom, and one of their contributors wrote a post about the joys of going out by yourself.

I like going out with friends but I don’t have to go out with anyone to have a good time. When it comes down to it, if someone can’t find someone else to go for dinner with, are you honestly going to say she should just stay home? Maybe order in so it’s only the delivery person who might be judging her?

If you go for a dinner alone, people will think this is how you’re spending the rest of your time

I do see this whole fear-of-eating-out-alone thing as connected to the idea that single people, especially women, are to be pitied. There might also be pressure on men not to eat out or go to movies alone, but I think it’s compounded for women because of the negativity about being single.

For example, The Mankini post refers to a Madatoms article called “Ladies’ Excuses for Being Single” that suggests that women who claim to be single by choice are in reality: lesbians, ugly,or  “two cats away from being crazy cat lady.” Nice…

And I’ve written before about Lori Gottlieb’s Marry Him: The Case for Mr. Goodenough, where she says single women who aren’t worried about getting married are either lying or in denial.

How about we say you’re welcome to critique someone’s taste in movies, but not the fact that she didn’t need someone else to escort her to the theatre? How about we say if a woman’s eating out alone that doesn’t indicte anything deeper than the fact she’s hungry? How about we trust women?


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