The women who upheld the standard

David Warren knew some of them:

I wrote once an essay on “The Modern Spinster” — a class to which I added women who had (by war and accident) long outlived their husbands. Born, typically, before the turn of the last century; widowed perhaps in the Great War; some had survived into the 1980s. They were impressive figures of pedagogical authority. We had, even here in the once admirable Province of Ontario, women I would rank with empress-dowagers of China. They were irreplaceable pillars of a society that I have watched disintegrate, over the decades since. Not one of them was a feminist, or could be interpreted as one by any fanciful act of the imagination. Each was instead not an ism but fully a Woman, without mistake or compromise.

There are two converging strings, which I shall try to knot together here. First, that their power can be neither appreciated nor understood, in a society that has so far degenerated that sex (not imposed grammatical “gender”) is dissolved in an androgynous slurry. Second, that there can be no such thing as an independent woman, who exchanges her position for that of a little man. For it was the function of such women not to seek “equality” with these strangely unnatural, mole-like creatures we see today — whining, whimpering, whinging and wimping off to their “safe spaces” whenever reality approaches. Rather, from a station of absolute moral superiority, that Modern Spinster would corner and intimidate; leaving them a choice between personal resuscitation, and complete psychic annihilation.

“Be a man, or get away from my nostrils,” is what e.g. a certain Edith Carson, of blessed memory, could communicate by no more than a slight inflection of her sensitive nose. She and her like were, and with God’s grace will again be (after the collapse of progressive disorder), bestowers of the White Feather. They were guarantors, not only that women will be women, with their privileges defended and intact; but too, that men will not dare to let their women down.

“Equality,” while we weren’t looking, got redefined as “interchangeability” by individuals of the female persuasion who failed to grasp the concept, reinforced by several of those “strangely unnatural, mole-like creatures” who pass themselves off as feminist in the vain hope that it will win them an occasional ejaculation. This is something else in dire need of correction.


  1. fillyjonk »

    7 September 2016 · 5:59 pm

    I suspect, though I don’t have good proof, that in our Modern World there is less flexibility to be one’s own self, to be an individual with whatever that entails, than there once was. I think of the 1970s, and Rosie Grier and his needlepoint, for an example. Instead, you have to be a member of a “class,” rather than who you actually are. A stereotype rather than an individual.

    I could *almost* see myself as one of those (last-century) “Modern Spinsters” – frankly and to be honest, it DOES take a certain toughness to go it alone in this life, and while I often claim not to be that tough, I really probably am. And I find (what used to be derided as) Sensitive New-Age Guys distinctly tiresome….

  2. zigzag »

    7 September 2016 · 6:53 pm

    Every word on this page is fantastic; Charles, the quoted essay, and the comment above me. I know I am not eloquent, but very heartfelt. I think about Rosey Grier often.

  3. ETat »

    8 September 2016 · 6:48 am

    Yes, but.
    But why he omitted war widows raising several kids? Or not widows, just plain wives who did the same – AND took care of an invalid/alcoholic/low-wage husband, plus dependent parents and various relatives? Were they less able and tough? I’d say, the contrary.
    But why limit yourselves by “gone years”? You look around, but you see only the surface. It is the same old story, however “isms” people tend to flag it under.

    And this is how we come to realization of true feminism: equal appreciation for labor. Because women have been – and still are- the pillars, the structural members, the ever-tenacious horses who drag the kicking and screaming kids of all ages into civilization and decency.
    Only now we don’t give you a lip service of submission, don’t use coverup of “little wife” or – of the same cloth, as a matter of fact – of “spinster harrigan”.

  4. Dink Newcomb »

    8 September 2016 · 8:07 am

    Is that not an incorrect definition of the word “spinster”? I have always understood that it meant “a never married and unlikely to marry woman”. Widows fail to qualify with that definition. I am aware you said you added widows.
    Also, spinster was previously, in places in this country, the formal title of an unmarried woman beyond a certain age– mid twenties, I believe.
    Not quarreling or engaging in “gotcha”. Just trying to clear up some of my confusion. I read and enjoy this column daily.
    BTW- in JHS-HS football, I had Rosy Grier’s number. I remember having a few sticky moments of bad comments but he was a great player and I was onery enough to not be bothered by what others thought. Besides, despite being pretty good at it myself, football was not all that important to me– I would have happily spent my life alone in the woods hunting and fishing where macho had just a small foothold.

  5. fillyjonk »

    8 September 2016 · 9:17 am

    I think “spinster” could possibly be extended to any woman who had to earn her own living. I’m a never-married woman and wouldn’t take issue with someone who was widowed young (esp. if without children) being referred to as such – the idea that she is pretty much thrown onto her own ingenuity to make a living. (Which, fortunately, is far easier today for a woman than it once was. 100 years ago I probably would have been a frontier schoolmarm or perhaps a governess to a wealthy family, and would have been half-a-notch above abject poverty)

  6. ETat »

    8 September 2016 · 7:27 pm

    Which, fortunately, is far easier today for a woman than it once was. 100 years ago I probably would have been a frontier schoolmarm…

    Which, incidentally, is a result of the much-maligned feminism movement

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