Waving not drowning – The joyous feminist possibilities of single (un)becoming women

Melissa Joy Wolfe, Genine A. Hook

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In this paper we promote feminist possibilities of feelingthinking (Massumi (2015) uses the term thinkingfeeling but we prefer feelingthinking to further interrupt the normative brainbody hierarchal construction) beyond the heteronormative assumptions of coupledom. We thrive by living feminist lives as independent females irrespective of partner status, we are ‘unbecoming women’. Not belonging to a partner [usually assumed as man], brings us as women, into conflict with the regulatory tensions that re-inscribe both a compulsory and a normative conception of hetero/coupledom where females are always accountable to and for their men-folk. We recount our own personal stories that illustrate the joyful productive possibilities that only become available to us as unowned and unownable women- as unbecoming women. Our narratives draw attention to social mechanisms of misogyny (Manne, 2018) that seek to regulate us/women towards relational conformity within coupledom. We suggest coupledom derived from this normative conception is a mechanism of misogyny because it polices and enforces affective power relations which diminish possibilities of flourishing female lives, within and exterior to affectionate attachments. In utilising personal narratives, we creatively traverse the binaries of compulsory and restrictive coupledom, to articulate the joyful queer (“Broadly speaking, queer describes those gestures or analytical models which dramatise incoherencies in the allegedly stable relations between chromosomal sex, gender and sexual desire” (Jagose, 1996, 3)) possibilities of positive difference as agentic bodies who happen to be female. Our togetherness, through recalling and sharing narratives beyond dominant reductive conceptions of coupledom becomes central to our feminist killjoy toolkit (Ahmed, 2017) for living a joyful feminist life.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102269
Number of pages6
JournalWomen's Studies International Forum
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019


  • Feminist killjoy
  • Heteronormative coupledom
  • Misogyny
  • Narrative
  • Singledom

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