21st Century Spinster?


Spinster; this is my new nickname.  No, I didn’t choose it.  It has been conferred upon me by others.

A dictionary definition of Spinster states it is an old-fashioned, often offensive term for a woman beyond the usual age for marriage.  However, prior to that it was used to describe the job of a woman, often older and single, who earned a living spinning; thus giving these women a certain freedom from dependence on a husband or male relative for their financial survival. Yet is such a term still relevant in the 21st century?  Well, according to some and if only as a joke, it is.

This seems all the more incongruous when you consider the increasing number of people who are single in this country.  Are we all to be labelled in such a way?  Well, of course not because men are bachelors, aren’t they?  Bachelors are unhitched, untamed and unhindered by commitment and therefore able to do as they please.  A spinster however, is not to be congratulated for her single status but criticised for her inability to acquire a man.  To a man, people will say ‘well done you’ for escaping the marriage noose (despite the fact that men benefit more from marriage than women), but a woman will be asked ‘what’s wrong with you?’  ‘Are you being too picky?’  ‘You just need to get out there.’  This last comment is my favourite.  Where exactly is ‘out there’?  This magical place where single men exist who are genuinely interested in you, and vice versa.

The thing people ignore when they throw a barrage of clichés at me is that I’m actually quite happy on my own.  Life is much easier that way; much simpler.  If being a spinster means being a woman of independent means, who doesn’t need to rely on a man for her existence, and thereby having the freedom to do as she wishes, then I am clearly guilty as charged.  It takes courage in a couple-obsessed society to choose to be alone, rather than be in an unhappy relationship.  So I embrace spinsterhood and the freedom it entails.  However, if I can, I’ll have a pack of dogs instead of cats because I’m more of a fan of the former, and I’ve got to subvert the stereotype somehow, haven’t I?


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