Feminism Fodder

Spinster versus Bachelor

Spinster. Crazy cat-lady. Barren.

Earlier in the week I was talking to a dear friend about some relationship issues they were going through. And one of the things they mentioned stayed with me. She talked about not wanting to be a “spinster” in the future and how that could potentially be one of the worst things to happen. Now trust me, as someone who is single and pretty happy with life in that sense, the word ‘spinster’ is like a stab in the heart. At that point though, I wasn’t going to get into arguments about semantics. And also, it wasn’t about me.

But it got me thinking.

Why do we use such negative words to describe only single women?

There aren’t words of a similar kind to describe single men.

Bachelor has a cool ring to it.

Spinster? Definitely not.

In fact, when I googled the meanings for bachelor and spinster, take a look at what came up.

bachelor

 

spinster

 

Basically, if you are a man there is no ‘usual’ age to get married but god forbid if you are a woman and not married by a certain age…you are practically doomed for the rest of your life!

And not just that. Try being single with a cat. Or two. {Like yours truly}. You get the label of heading towards being a “crazy cat-lady”. How come there is no equivalent for men? Like a crazy cat-man? Or crazy dog-man? And as we all know very well, if you are an unmarried woman and have no children, oh my god you are barren or cold or just plain evil. Because after all, how could you not want kids!?

You would think that in this day and age, it is more acceptable for women to choose to stay single. After all, women are pretty independent, earning their own money and well, able to do things without necessarily having to depend on someone. Sure, not every woman is choosing to remain single but why does singledom equate to unhappiness? Like I was talking to my flatmate, I’d rather be single and happy than be in a relationship for the sake of companionship and be miserable. Which is what several people I know seem to do. [I’m not saying everyone in a relationship is miserable!!! Just that some people stay in it for the wrong reasons}

I wonder though…if the language around women being single changed, would that change people’s perceptions? After all, I know several women who are single {older than me} and perfectly happy with their lives. Yet, friends of mine talk about older single women {spinsters!} as being bitter and negative and angry with the world. Sure, there may be some single women like that. But I know of many married women like that too. Bitter. Negative. Angry with the whole goddamn world. If perceptions changed, would we see fewer women getting into relationships that are potentially unhealthy? If perceptions changed, would more women be comfortable enjoying their lives than constantly ticking boxes in their heads following every man they meet?

I just wish we could stop placing so much emphasis on a woman’s relationship status. And that too, in such a negative manner.

Next time someone tells me older single women are ‘crazy cat-ladies’ or ‘spinsters’ I’m going on a rant.

For sure.

Do you think I’m blowing things out of proportion? Or do we have a bias here? 

Do share your views on this issue.

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

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  • fatimabenel@gmail.com
    July 9, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    U r totally right. Patriarchy means its a mans world and they make all the rules and words up in that world. Even the word history comes from the two words his story.

    I miss the autonomy and possibility that came with being single. Your not over reacting u r accurately observing the bullshit around you

  • fatimabenel@gmail.com
    July 9, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    U r totally right. Patriarchy means its a mans world and they make all the rules and words up in that world. Even the word history comes from the two words his story.

    I miss the autonomy and possibility that came with being single. Your not over reacting u r accurately observing the bullshit around you

    • Psych Babbler
      July 11, 2013 at 10:14 pm

      I agree Fatima that it’s a concept that in all likelihood arose in a patriarchal society. It’s high time though that people started to move on…it’s pathetic that even in this day and age people worry about something like that! Like I said, next time someone brings it up, I’m definitely going on a rant! And I might add the whole patriarchy argument to it as well… 🙂

    • Rose Bush
      July 26, 2014 at 1:27 am

      Personally, I think that it is just patriarchy that makes spinsterhood worse than bachelorhood.

      It is a sad fact that men are expected to make all the rules in the world and women are expected to “stay quietly in the shadows” and be dependent on them.

      It is social conditioning. Nothing else

  • Whoa, Molly!
    July 9, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    I’ve reclaimed the word ‘spinster’. I’m single for the first time in seven years and you know what? It’s okay. I don’t mind being in my early thirties, with a cat, and single. I was raised by a woman who never married, so I was brought up to believe that marriage wasn’t the be-all and end-all of a woman’s life.
    Whoa, Molly! recently posted…The RulesMy Profile

  • Whoa, Molly!
    July 9, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    I’ve reclaimed the word ‘spinster’. I’m single for the first time in seven years and you know what? It’s okay. I don’t mind being in my early thirties, with a cat, and single. I was raised by a woman who never married, so I was brought up to believe that marriage wasn’t the be-all and end-all of a woman’s life.
    Whoa, Molly! recently posted…The RulesMy Profile

    • Psych Babbler
      July 11, 2013 at 10:17 pm

      Ooh I love the idea of reclaiming the word…just like the whole slut thing. 🙂 What you’ve said also makes me realise just how important upbringing is…if you are brought up believing that you are a person in your own right and marriage doesn’t necessarily make or break you, you are so much stronger. I have been single in the last year after the end of a long term relationship and while I do have down days I must admit I love my life. I have grown so much and done so much post my relationship that I probably would never have done if we’d still been together. In short, being single isn’t the end of the world. It can be the beginning of so much more! 😀

  • R's Mom
    July 9, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    Bah! Who says marriage is the end of life…I know of ‘spinsters’ who are happy at the age of 60 doing what they want all their lives..so gah! to people who make a fuss about it. In today’s world, its the same for a guy and a girl!

    And like I have maintained, personally, I think marriage is definitely over rated!

  • R's Mom
    July 9, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    Bah! Who says marriage is the end of life…I know of ‘spinsters’ who are happy at the age of 60 doing what they want all their lives..so gah! to people who make a fuss about it. In today’s world, its the same for a guy and a girl!

    And like I have maintained, personally, I think marriage is definitely over rated!

    • Psych Babbler
      July 11, 2013 at 10:23 pm

      Haha RM…I love your comment! 🙂 That’s the thing though…in this day and age, you would think people would be past the whole ‘spinster’ thing but it still exists! Which astounds me no end. Oh well…
      Psych Babbler recently posted…Redefining SuccessMy Profile

  • Kaddu
    July 9, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    Hiya “Crazy cat lady!” 😀
    Thank your lucky stars you’re not living in India. Out here, even maids treat you like crap if you’re single! I’ve had to show the door to so many of my maids just because they wouldn’t show up on time because I was unmarried! Apparently, if you’re married, then it means you do more work. Irrespective of the fact that you have a cook or that you don’t earn your own living. Some logic, right?
    Bitter, negative, angry… hell yeah! Anyone would be if you’d treat them as social outcasts!
    Kaddu recently posted…When Heavens Turn GrayMy Profile

    • Psych Babbler
      July 11, 2013 at 10:25 pm

      Haha… 😀 Hi Chicky! Oh I am glad I’m not living in India…totally understand my situation would be a zillion times worse! It’s weird isn’t it how women who are unmarried in India past a certain age are almost considered the lowest of the low? I remember being told of some extended family members who were unmarried…they were always spoken about in a hushed tone as if it was the worst thing that could happen! And I remember arguing that they had good jobs etc etc but it never seemed to matter. I think though, while I had come to accept that it occurs in the Indian context, I wasn’t expecting it in countries like Australia. But sadly, it exists here too.

  • Kaddu
    July 9, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    Hiya “Crazy cat lady!” 😀
    Thank your lucky stars you’re not living in India. Out here, even maids treat you like crap if you’re single! I’ve had to show the door to so many of my maids just because they wouldn’t show up on time because I was unmarried! Apparently, if you’re married, then it means you do more work. Irrespective of the fact that you have a cook or that you don’t earn your own living. Some logic, right?
    Bitter, negative, angry… hell yeah! Anyone would be if you’d treat them as social outcasts!
    Kaddu recently posted…When Heavens Turn GrayMy Profile

  • LiFi
    July 10, 2013 at 4:31 am

    Na you are not over reacting, one thing for sure we lived in a male dominated society,I read American history I can see that. But things are changing , I never feel sympathetic towards a single women, other day one if my friends was bitching how sorry she feels for another friend who is a single mom. I reacted saying its better to be single than being in a relation where there is no love and trust .your post is an eye opener, well didn’t know the real meaning of spinster , yes it sounds negative .
    LiFi recently posted…When your daughter starts mothering youMy Profile

    • Psych Babbler
      July 11, 2013 at 10:32 pm

      I’m like you LiFi…I never feel sorry for someone who is single. After all, they have probably made that choice to be happier than perhaps in an unhealthy relationship.

  • LiFi
    July 10, 2013 at 4:31 am

    Na you are not over reacting, one thing for sure we lived in a male dominated society,I read American history I can see that. But things are changing , I never feel sympathetic towards a single women, other day one if my friends was bitching how sorry she feels for another friend who is a single mom. I reacted saying its better to be single than being in a relation where there is no love and trust .your post is an eye opener, well didn’t know the real meaning of spinster , yes it sounds negative .
    LiFi recently posted…When your daughter starts mothering youMy Profile

  • Zita
    July 10, 2013 at 6:20 am

    I love this post! It’s similar to one I did a few weeks ago when a ‘friend’ I hadn’t seen or spoken to in a while gave me that pathetic “oh…..you’re still single, what are you doing?’ Sigh! I had not realised those definitions, that’s just crazy and I think totally outdated!!! I think you are definitely correct in your views around people’s perceptions and I, like you, would rather be single for the rest of my life than stuck in a miserable relationship!!

    • Psych Babbler
      July 11, 2013 at 10:36 pm

      I remember reading that one of yours Zita…it really annoys me when people give single women that pitying look/voice as if we are so helpless and lacking completely in our lives. And yes, those definitions don’t help one bit!!

  • NS
    July 10, 2013 at 8:51 am

    You know, you are right. But these feminist rants always fall on deaf years, have not changed over hundreds of years andI doubt they ever will. Being a Feminist is also mocked at. Really frustrating.. Really frustrating when women get into relationships just because of peer / societal pressure and ruin their happiness…

    • Psych Babbler
      July 11, 2013 at 10:38 pm

      Oh NS…being single and a feminist is even harder…because then you are looked at as a man-hater. Which is weird. Because I always say I don’t hate men. Just some kinds of men. And unfortunately I do think a lot of women get into relationships because of societal pressure or the fear of being alone…

  • Varsh
    July 10, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    I think people attach such terms and labels with women because women are perceived as emotional and needy for men and relationships. Men can make merry and never get married and never get tired of it. But women cannot enter foolish relationships, physical or otherwise, just for the heck of it. They want to be a part of something special.
    Never mind this though, a spinster is not a fair term. I know of ladies who were happy being unmarried their entire life. They had a good job, lots of savings and no responsibilities. Such independence is not accepted by society with an open heart. Even now.
    Varsh recently posted…A moment of happinessMy Profile

    • Psych Babbler
      July 11, 2013 at 10:53 pm

      There is always that biased perception isn’t there Varsh…that women ‘need’ someone. In fact, research has shown that women who are single in their 40s and 50s are happier than men who are unattached at that age. Apparently that’s because women have a larger social network. Yet, society seems to think that women need to get married as that is the only way they will be happy! Go figure…

  • Avada Kedavra
    July 11, 2013 at 5:59 am

    You are so right PB.. if a woman is not married and doesnt have kids, I dont know why people think she is not happy. I know many women who were never married and yet are happier than those women in abusive relationships. Just looking at IHM’s site gives us an idea of how happy many women are in their married life.
    Avada Kedavra recently posted…SupermoonMy Profile

    • Psych Babbler
      July 11, 2013 at 11:02 pm

      Exactly Ava! While I’m not saying that everyone in a relationship/marriage is unhappy, there are several out there who are. I see among my own network of friends those who ‘adjust’ and ‘adapt’ but are not necessarily happy with it all and I wonder whether I’m better off being single. At least I get to live my life my way. Oh well…

  • Rose Bush
    August 10, 2014 at 8:33 am

    I think that it.is nobody’s business how other people lead their lives.

  • Rose Bush
    August 10, 2014 at 8:36 am

    Oh, sorry. My keyboard went a little haywire.

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