Single-minded

Graduate and Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences sessional academic Melanie Saward is a successful writer, singer and academic, but in some circles, she won’t earn society’s respect until she has a husband.

What achievements are you most proud of?

I’m really proud of winning a sessional academic teaching award last year, and being shortlisted for the Copyright Agency/Varuna First Nation’s Writing fellowship this year.

I’m also proud of making a return to singing after many years of battling stage fright.

I'm proud to be descended from the Bigambul and Wakka Wakka peoples.

What barriers have you faced?

The thing I’ve found myself continually battling with is being respected as a single woman. While I was raised on a steady diet of Disney and dress like a 50s housewife, I’m definitely not singing Someday my Prince will come, and I don’t want to be any sort of a housewife.

There are lots of challenges to being single: you pay all the bills yourself, don’t get to divide any of the chores around the house, and don’t have anyone to bring you soup and orange juice when you’re sick. But by far the hardest is being respected for my choice.

I’ve been forced into working longer hours and travelling more because there’s no one waiting for me at home. I’ve had people say things like: ‘a girl like you shouldn’t be single,’ as though there’s something wrong with me because I’m alone; and I’ve had friends and family who’ve admitted they think I’m putting on a brave face when I say that I’m okay.

The truth is, my life is good: I don’t have to clean up after anyone but myself, I can decorate my home the way I want, I enjoy having lots of different hobbies, and I only have to share the couch (and the bed) with my dog. There’s nothing wrong with me.

My time is as valuable as someone who is married or has children, and this is not a brave face, this is just my face.

What would you like to see change for the next generation of women?

There are so many ways in which I hope things change for the next generation of women.

I hope they will be able to live without the fear that we live with now, that they will be respected more, paid more, feel okay about speaking out, about saying no, and about being who they are without needing to explain themselves or justify their choices.

I hope that things will be better.

Keep up with Melanie via her blog thelittlered.com.au or on twitter or Instagram @littleredwrites.

Images:

1 & 4. Jill Kerswill Photography

2. Pandom Images

3. Say Cheesecake Photography