Lilli Suburg’s article “Couples and Singles”

Eve Annuk

The article is dedicated to the essay “Couples and Singles” published by Lilli Suburg (1841-1924), the first Estonian feminist, writer, journalist and educator, in her magazine Linda in 1887. In this essay Suburg focuses on the topic of single women, highlighting social prejudices about them and presenting arguments against these negative attitudes. Suburg stresses that, in the context of Enlightenment ideas, women as the oppressed part of society have to be protected against mistreatment. In her opinion, single older women are one of the most marginalized social groups who are represented with derision in both fiction and journalism. Suburg demonstrates that, on the basis of statistics, the number of single women is constantly increasing and this necessitates a closer look at social prejudice against them. As a perceptive social observer, Suburg notes that women have remained single by chance and stresses that single women fill an important social role, both as assistants in family households and as educators of children, and this should be valued. Suburg’s views were progressive for her day, as she tried to counter stereotypical patterns of thought with rational arguments and, through that, to re-shape public opinion.