In her Archetypes podcast, Meghan Markle joins Tamil-American Actress and Producer Mindy Kaling in a candid conversation about the stigmas of being a single, unmarried woman and Mindy's decision to create a family and raise children on her own.
According to Markle, many kids even till this day are ingrained with the belief that if you don’t end up getting married, you have somehow failed in the game we call life or in other words are considered “unsuccessful”. If we even look back and dissect the old playground rhyme that I’m sure many of you grew up hearing, “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage”, you can see that men and women are still institutionalized to believe that they NEED to get married and have kids.
To examine the stigma behind single women and their decision to stay unmarried, Markle looks for more insight and opens up the conversation with Rebecca Traistor from New York Magazine and author of All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation.
Traistor explains that the stigma surrounding single, unmarried women still exists and dates to historical times when terms such as “old maid” and “the spinster” were used to express a woman who was not married. In fact, the term Spinster refers to Spinners of textiles, which meant that the women who worked as spinners required income due to being unmarried - because they were doing something outside of societal norms or an institution.
Men were believed to be the wage earners, not women.
She goes on to break things down even further by explaining that marriage was created and institutionalized as a system for the purpose of organizing power, responsibility and labour structured into gendered roles.
Marriage was also organized to create economic power, where men would be the breadwinners and women would be the domestic labourers, dependent on their husbands. This institution was also responsible for organizing sexual power and social power alike. Women were to take their husband’s last name, a practice that continues to exist.
Traistor concludes by saying, despite efforts being made towards a more progressive society and revisions made to the role that marriage plays, power structures still subsist.
Meghan concludes her discussion with Traistor with a closing remark by saying that if it took centuries to build, it is going to take centuries to dismantle.
She continues the podcast by welcoming Tamil-American Actress and Producer Mindy Kaling in the hopes of putting a stop to the stigma that women face by allowing Mindy to share her story of the joy, challenges and stigmas of being an unmarried single mom of two.
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For those of you who don’t already know, Mindy Kaling is best known for producing and starring as the lead in the sitcom “The Mindy Project”. Although Mindy’s character was portrayed to be a married and divorced woman on the show, Mindy has never been married in real life nor does she currently have a partner.
She decided to start a family on her own and has two kids, a daughter named Kit and a son named Spencer. She identifies herself as a mom, writer, someone who cooks occasionally and a wrangler of children from Hancock Park in Los Angeles.
The great thing about Mindy is that she is layered, multifaceted and real. Not only has she created shows that defy societal norms for Tamil women and women in general, but she also gives her characters a fresh feel exposing her audience to two different ways of being in this world. This is especially seen in the hit sitcom she produced called “Never Have I Ever” featuring lead Tamil-Canadian actress Maitreyi Ramakrishnan.
Markle continues her discussion with Kaling to talk about her experience choosing to be a mom without having a husband.
Kaling goes on to explain that she had predetermined the idea of becoming a mom even if she did not find a partner by the age of 40. Although she ultimately imagined herself being married with kids by the age of 24 and grew up wanting the type of nuclear family her parents had, things just didn’t go as planned and therefore she carved a path for herself.
As her career started to take off, she didn’t want to get married just for the sake of getting married nor cave into the pressures from society.
She now looks at her life in amazement of how different her life panned out but is content at the age of 43 with two kids, a nanny, and staying in touch with her immediate family.
Kaling believes that most people, especially women are willing to compromise their needs for the fear of being single. She says, a lot of people will drag on relationships that aren’t meant to be and end up breaking up years later.
She reminisces about her past and the challenges she faced growing up. She remembers feeling insecure with being overweight and wearing glasses in the white Suburbs of Boston. She always felt unattractive and thought she would feel a sense of belonging if she were made to be someone’s girlfriend. There is always that fear that women face and feel that it’s better to stay in relationships and have that plus one as opposed to being single. She says that she felt a shift in energy and vibes around people at parties where they felt bad, worried or sad for her for being single.
Another challenge she faced was dealing with people who felt threatened to be around confident women who were unapologetically themselves. She had to push through a lot of labels in her career and life but was prepared to live life on her own terms.
She does however explain that the choice she made to become a single mother was only something she imagined possible in her late 30s and was dependent on the resources available. She is able to take on the role as a mother with the help from her live-in nanny and family. She explains that the bond she shared with her late mother was very strong. She describes her mother to be a great role model as she portrays her to be maternal and career driven and if it weren’t for her, she wouldn’t have taken on motherhood.
Kaling assures Markle that despite everything, she is in fact happy, regardless of what happiness looks like to others.
Markle concludes the podcast by highlighting stories of little girls who are defying the norms and encourages women to progress towards this new norm.
To all my single ladies out there, it is perfectly okay to be single, career-oriented and unmarried. Stand up for yourself and start choosing to live your life on your own terms and timelines. Do not let others dictate how your life should be. Be unappologetically you!
Tune into Meghan Markle’s Archetypes Podcast: The Stigma of the Singleton ft. Mindy Kaling on Spotify to hear more.
Check out myTamilDate's 'Dating While Tamil' podcast: