IT IS NOT GOOD TO BE ALONE:
SINGLENESS AND THE BLACK SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST WOMAN
It is not good to be alone; singleness and the Black Seventh-day Adventist Woman
Valerie Y. Bernard-Allan
Institute of Education UCL
PhD in Sociology
Over the last decade the literature on adult singleness has highlighted the pervasiveness of constructions of singleness as an undesirable status. The great majority of the literature has focused on White women’s accounts of being single and few studies have examined Christian women’s views about their single identities. A notable exception is Aune’s (2004) study of British evangelical Christianity and gender which looked at the state of gender within the New Frontiers International movement (an evangelical house church movement). Yet while the literature on single women is burgeoning, little is known about Black single women. The literature that is available suggests that Black single women are typically portrayed in essentialist and often demeaning discourses that depict them for instance, as hypersexual.
There is even less known about single Black women who are committed members of a religious organisation. This thesis contributes to an understanding of singleness by analysing the accounts of one group of Black British Christian women; Seventh-day Adventist women, mainly of Caribbean descent. I use thematic analysis to focus on the recurring themes produced by the women and to explore the ways in which singleness for these women is a complicated identity. Seventy-nine women were recruited: nine took part in a focus group discussion, fifty-three filled out a questionnaire, seven contributed written narratives and ten participated in in-depth interviews.
The findings illustrate that participants construct singleness as marginal and deficient, despite this, however, these Black single Seventh-day Adventist women draw on a range of cultural, religious and non-coupling narratives to construct more positive accounts of their selves. Intersectionality provided a theoretical framework to illuminate what the key themes highlight about the complexity of participants’ racialised, religious and gendered identities.