VOLUME 15, PART 2:
UNMARRIED & UNAPOLOGETIC
Earlier this century, the share of single women in the U.S. edged out married women for the first time in American history. More and more women are marrying later or not at all, a shift that offers both promise and challenges. After all, government policies have revolved around traditional families since forever, and single women have poorer economic outcomes than both men and their married peers.
In our Vol. 15 film selection “Counterfeit Kunkoo,” a newly single Indian woman tries to establish a life for herself after leaving an abusive marriage. The housing inequality she contends with occurs all over the world, even in countries like the U.S. where housing discrimination is illegal.
Despite the difficult path Smita must take, she is determined to make her own way in the world. She joins a cohort of single women on film who have done the same: Violet Newstead (Lily Tomlin) from “9 to 5,” Slim Hiller (Jennifer Lopez) from “Enough,” even Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) from “Mad Max: Fury Road.”
As a greater share of women negotiate adulthood on their own, we need these role models more than ever.
We asked our resident medical expert Dr. Julia Arnold VanRooyen to reflect on our Vol. 15 film and provide discussion questions geared towards deepening your understanding of the issues it raises.
Reema Sengupta’s short film “Counterfeit Kunkoo” shows the precarious position of a woman in India who has left an abusive husband. She faces systemic oppression as she struggles to gain control of her life. By the end, it appears she has triumphed against steep odds. And then the doorbell rings again…
- Was it surprising to see the discrimination that unmarried women still face in the 21st century?
- What solutions does Smita try (or not try) to secure housing for herself?
- What difference would it make if Smita did not have her own money?
- How does Smita use her “counterfeit kunkoo” to beat the system?
- Is Smita’s triumph likely to last or will she continue to face discrimination?
“Kusruti plays Smita as fearful but resolute, an homage to the strength of every woman who has struck out on her own against all odds.” — Emily Christensen
Gear up for living life on your own terms (social expectations be damned) with our Vol. 15 playlist “Bitch BYE.” Dedicated to everyone out there who needs to put themselves first and leave toxic situations in the rear view. Here’s to listening to powerful women and building new foundations.
with special guest Reema Maya Sengupta
Periodical Podcast host Asha Dahya chats with “Counterfeit Kunkoo” writer/director Reema Sengupta about how her mother’s struggle to find housing as a single woman inspired her to write a “very angry script.” In a lovely full-circle moment, Sengupta’s mom served as the producer of the film and helped secure many of the set locations in the Mumbai slum where she grew up.
“A really important rule I follow is if you’re getting so many people together to work really hard and create something, you might as well say something important and significant.” — Reema Sengupta
The interconnectedness of our struggles: why the fight for reproductive rights is inseparable from housing justice work
“Reproductive justice is inextricably linked to housing justice. Safe and sustainable communities are undermined by the lack of safe and affordable housing … Unhoused people and families who lack housing stability are routinely unable to access reproductive and other types of health care, and individuals experiencing homelessness tend to have higher percentages of unplanned pregnancy.”
Single by choice: why fewer American women are married than ever before
This 2016 interview with Rebecca Traister is an excellent introduction to her book “All the Single Ladies.” The wide-ranging conversation touches on iconic single women like Anita Hill and Susan B. Anthony, who once suggested women might have to abandon the institution of marriage to achieve real equality.
The housing gender gap: Why women still face roadblocks in homeownership, home equity and home values
“For single women, wealth accumulation achieved through home equity lags behind that of single men,” reports Mia Taylor. “Women pay more to buy a home and reap less when they sell it. They can afford a smaller chunk of the homes on the market.” Given widespread racial bias in housing, Black and brown single women are at even greater disadvantage.
Single women take an outsize role in the workforce — and the economy
“We’re one of the first generations that’s not really worried about getting married in our 20s and 30s, even our 40s,” said 31-year-old Rebecca Lundberg. “Being in charge of my own personal and financial decisions, and having my independence is very liberating for me.” The downside? “A stubborn wage gap means single women have less spending power and wealth.”
Instagram Replay: Jimaekia Eborn, Tending the Garden
Missed our conversation with Jimanekia Eborn of Tending the Garden? The comprehensive sex educator and trauma expert founded her organization Tending The Garden to support marginalized sexual assault survivors looking for healing and community.
We discuss working in partnership with our bodies to heal from trauma and so much more. Check it out here!
Originally conceived in the 1940s to offer humanitarian assistance to postwar Europe, CARE is now an international organization focused on saving lives, defeating poverty and achieving social justice.
“We cannot eradicate poverty and achieve social justice while inequality persists. Discrimination against women has negative implications for global security and development, economic performance, food security, health, climate adaptation and the environment, governance, and stability.”
Learn more about CARE’s focus on gender equality.
AWID (Association for Women’s Rights in Development)
AWID is a global, feminist, membership, movement-support organization working to achieve gender justice and women’s human rights worldwide. Their priorities are supporting feminist, women’s rights and gender justice movements to thrive, to be a driving force in challenging systems of oppression, and to co-create feminist realities.
AWID envisions a world where feminist realities flourish, where resources and power are shared in ways that enable everyone, and future generations, to thrive and realize their full potential with dignity, love and respect, and where Earth nurtures life in all its diversity.
Through film and conversation, rePRO advocates for reproductive health, justice, and bodily autonomy. We lift intersectional issues, using the power of storytelling as a catalyst for knowledge, intention, and action.