The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

5 January 2004

Neither do they spin

I have almost always been puzzled as to the reason why perfectly desirable women would willingly embrace the term "spinster," a word which to me has always seemed fraught with despair and desolation and all those other D words I used to toss around so frequently.

After reading this, perhaps I understand a little better. I'm reasonably certain that not everyone using the term subscribes to every single item in the list, but I think they might buy this line:

We have a right to proudly reclaim the word Spinster, to uphold and forge this brave new identity, to embrace our singleness, to live our lives fully, and to never let our human expression be characterized as a paraphrased offshoot of the male experience with words such as "bachelorette."

Heh. She said "offshoot."

Now maybe I should look for a comparable term for myself — besides "dork," of course.

Posted at 6:26 AM to Table for One


Oh crap no :barf: -- you will never hear such "life-affirming" ickiness from me as to the reason I use the "spinster" term. Nor, of course, do I subscribe to your (alas, commonly held in this age where "normal" people, especially women, are supposed to be afraid of being alone) that it has associations of "despair and desolation." As if!

If you want to know the real reasons I like the term, read Florence King, especially the essay "Spinsterhood is Powerful" in her collection Reflections in a Jaundiced Eye. Sample:

Spinsterhood is Nature's Own feminism, the only kind that works, but most women would explode rather than admit it.

Another sample:
Have you ever noticed that there are no old maids in Correctol and Ex-Lax commercials? They beam the message that women are three times more likely than men to suffer from constipation, yet the sufferers portrayed in these minidramas are always matrons and their married daughters, who discuss the problem and conclude that it comes from "doing so much for others" -- an unconscious gem of truth-in-advertising hinting that marriage and motherhood are the ties that bind.
I've seen married people. Heck, I was raised by a couple. Oh, yeah, give me spinsterhood any day.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 9:48 PM on 6 January 2004

I figured I'd get pilloried by someone for this.

Then again, it took me three decades or so to learn how to pronounce "clitoris", a word which doesn't have a whole lot of, um, emotional baggage.

(Might as well saw off the rest of the limb, long as I'm out on it.)

Posted by: CGHill at 10:02 PM on 6 January 2004

[SOUTH PARK]"Dude, what's the clitoris?"[/SOUTH PARK]

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 10:15 PM on 6 January 2004