Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Single's wards vs. Family wards

Quite a few of my single girlfriends have informed me that they are going to start attending family wards. A few of their reasons: "Single's wards are just a meat markets"; "You can never get to know anyone because the turnover is too high"; "The pressure at a single's ward is just too much." One of my readers said "single's wards just don't work anymore." I tend to agree with them.
Once you have been to a single's ward for nigh on a decade they become very exhausting and tedious. They are these artificial environments that don't represent the population of the church or society and you know the real reason they exist is to facilitate YSAs getting hitched. But do they really work for that many people? I know some people that won't date anyone from their single's ward, because honestly who wants to see their ex-boyfriend/girlfriend every week at church, let alone perchance serve in a calling with them? There is also a fair amount of stealth dating in single's wards (SWs), because lets face if you go on one date with someone in your ward, everyone knows about it by the end of the night. SWs are hotbeds of relationship gossip and there is a lot of elbow nudging too-"so I heard you went out with Scott, so when are you guys getting married." I honestly don't understand it, if singles hate this treatment so much, why do they inflict it on other singles? So basically there is this huge pressure and anxiety on singles in these wards, almost like mice in a lab experiment. Which mice will pair off first???

Until a few weeks ago I attended a single's branch which I wholeheartly appreciated compared to the huge single's ward I attended in Boston previously. Nobody in the Boston ward really knew or cared who I was, let alone the bishopric. I had to beg for a calling and introduce myself to people each week just so I felt I was somewhat a part of it. Whereas my single's branch was small, I knew just about everybody and I was one of the bishops favorites (well at least I like to think so). The spirit was very strong there, but the turnover still was fairly high and the latest turnover left me with mostly a group of 18-19 year old girls and 21-22 year old guys. They are great people, but not really my peers. So now I'm back in a university single's ward that meets with 9,000 other wards at the SLC institute and the family ward is looking better and better.

I did go to a family ward for about a year or so sometime after my mission. I was the sunbeam teacher and I loved it. There are so many more ways to serve in a family ward. (I would actually love to be a Young Women's leader.) There is also such a greater diversity of people. I love getting to know the elderly people in the family wards too.

So here's what I propose. Dissolve SW's, this way there will be good-sized groups of singles in each family ward and they could plan activities and whatnot with each other and other wards, but you would still get the benefit of a family ward. Well I'm not holding my breath, but it could work. So until that time spinster's will always lament-to single's ward or family ward, that is the question.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Beware the Spinster!

I hope no one is too devasted that I haven't posted in a week. I was sucked into season one of Heroes, which took up most of my free time. But now I'm back and I have an important question: Do parent's think that because you're not married they have more say over your life then they do over your married siblings, regardless of your age? Does it mean they can be huge buttinski's and "accidently" open your mail that happens to arrive at their house and "accidentally" read it and then confront you about whatever they find? I guess that's what my parent's think. Not that my mail was scandalous (too bad) in any way, but it would be nice to get a little privacy!
This is definitely one of the cons to being a spinster, parents still treat you like you're 16. I think that if I was married and had kids and a house then they might see me as more of an adult. (If I had my own house at least I could have my mail delivered there instead of using my parent's house as my permanent address.) Well perhaps I am wrong, maybe all parents try to control their children regardless of marital status. I'm not sure, I'll have to see what my married sister has to say.
But that leads me into another subject, Parents' views on their daughter's spinsterhoods. I would really like to hear what y'all's parents say to you about marriage and such. Do they try to set you up on dates, or say things to you like, "Don't worry you'll find someone soon", or talk about your future children as if they are sure that you will provide grandchildren to them in the near future? My parent's don't do any of that. I'm pretty sure they have always believed that I would end up a spinster! Why? Do I have a huge 'S' emblazened on my chest like the scarlet letter? "Beware the Spinster!" (oh I like that, maybe I'll make that my title). I really never talk to them about it either. I think I'm afraid my fears will be confirmed and that my parent's will say "give up, it's no use."
Or maybe I don't want to talk about it, because deep down maybe I'm ashamed to be a single, LDS woman over the "legal" marrying limit by Mormon standards. This is sad, very sad to me that there could be some truth to this statement. This shame is the byproduct of having such a heavy, heavy focus on families and marriage in our society. If you don't marry than you feel like you've failed because that was your "mission" in life. What in the heck do you do now? Biology is even against the spinster too, trying to make us feel guilty for not propagating the species, by programming woman with this "biological clock" thing.
Well I want to explore some of these issues further, possibly sometime when I'm not in such a ranting and raving mood. So please post and give me your thoughts. Also stay tuned I may soon be posting a spinster comic strip, that is in the works, and not, thankfully, drawn by me!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hanging Out, But Not Hooking Up

If you stay a singleton very long you will soon come across a certain problem. Your close friends get engaged and then married and fall off the planet. At least for a year, during which time you have to make new friends to hang out with. This happens with roommates too, I've sent many roommates off into the marital horizon and then had to get new ones. Over the years each new set of friends and roommates has gotten younger and younger, while I've gotten older and older.
Yes I do have a few friends around my age that have not gotten married, but most of them have moved away, so we never get a chance to hang out. And now we get to the main issue-who do I hang out with in the future when the age gap between me and a new set of friends will just be too chasmatic? I mean when I'm in my 30's am I really going to feel like hanging out with people 10 years or more younger than me and in a totally different stage of life? I could start hanging out with my married friends. I did that my last year or two of college sometimes, but you can only do that so much.
Now I think I see why spinsterhood can be hard and why some people think spinsters are recluses. They have no one in their demographic to hang out with. At a certain age they no longer go to a singles ward, so they don't have that built-in social network. They no longer seem to have a niche in society. They are nicheless.
What we need to do is start our own social network of spinsters, people to hang out with that understand our unique situation in the world. I've already started a group on facebook-the Mormon Spinster Society! Ok ,so the name really isn't that creative or catchy, that can be changed. The point is now we can start to network with our fellow sisters. I don't know where this could lead, but I think it could be a lot of fun. So if you would like please join. Over and out.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Just the Facts Ma'am

Here are a few statistics about single women and marriage in the U.S. I found them interesting and enlightening, I thought you might feel the same way.

As of 2003 there was 147.8 million females in the U.S. I guess that included children as well since the population then was about 295,000,000. Of that number of females 53.5 million were unmarried (including widows, divorcees, and never marrieds), and 62.9 were married. (I think the remaining 31.4 million are under the age of 15).
54% of Single Americans are women and there is an average of 86 unmarried men to every 100 unmarried women in the U.S. That sounds really bad, but also think of all the elderly women that are widowed. There are twice as many women as there are men in the 85 and older category. Also by state the numbers change. Rhode Island has only 79 unmarried men to every 100 women, while Alaska has 114 men to every 100 women. Of course not all these men are really eligible-some are in prison, which skews the real dating numbers!
But I think most interesting are the median ages of first marriages for people in the US in the past 100 or so years. Just remember median age is not the average, but the midpoint of all first marriage ages.
Median age at 1st marriage:
Men Women
1890 26.1 22
(Now things get interesting, the median age drops steadily until 1956 when it begins makes a steady rise.)
1947 23.7 20.5
1950 22.8 20.3
1969 23.2 20.8
1977 24 21.6
1985 25.5 23.3
1999 26.9 25.1
2003 27.1 25.3

So our grandgrandparents were married later in life than our grandparents and parents! The interesting thing will be to see if these ages for women keep rising or if they will level off. Soon maybe the median age for first marriages for women will be 30!

For more stats check out these websites:

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Spinsters get their facebook on

So I looked up spinster groups on facebook and apparently I have come very late to the game. There are already 114 different Spinsters groups on facebook! Two of which I joined-"Everyone needs a little Bridget [Jones]" and "D*** it feels good to be a Spinster". Why did I choose those particular ones? Well I joined the first cause I'm a Bridget Jones Fan (edited version of course!) and I joined the second one because it was funny and it was one of the only groups that didn't talk about becoming a cat lady. Apparently in many peoples minds "cat ladies" and spinsters are inseparable beings. And the number of women that liked the idea and the number of them that abhorred that idea was split down the middle. Also it seemed that a lot of the spinster groups were created by girls in England and Australia. Do those Isles have a disproportionate number of spinsters compared to the rest of the world???
But I digress, back to cat ladies. It seems that society has lumped spinsters into a few different groups. So lets go over the supposed categories of spinsters.

The Cat Lady, also known as the Crazy Cat Lady: Apparently she has given up on human interaction and filled that need with cat ownership. She lives in a small abode with 5 plus cats and leans in the direction of eccentricity. Oh and apparently she even has her own action figure (this is real!)
While I'm not going to say this kind of spinster doesn't exist and I'm not going to say I haven't met a few of them, this does not represent the Gen X spinster. Spinsters do not have to own cats, I think we come a long way since then.

Librarian Spinster: It seems to me that some jobs will always be linked spinsterhood and being a librarian is one of those jobs. Why? I'm not really sure. In the past maybe the traditional librarian "uniform" of glasses-on-a-rope, hair in a bun, cardigan and long skirt was just not appealing to the opposite sex or maybe librarians just found books so much more interesting and intellectually stimulating than the men they knew. The world may never know, but this kind of spinster is supposedly dowdy, bookish and shy. Ahem, this is not today's spinster either. Today's spinster can have any career and has much more flair.

The Bitter Spinster: This is the man hating, bitter, seething spinster who is epitomized by the character, Miss Havisham, in Great Expectations. She has been scorned by love and exacts her revenge on every male that crosses her path. Personally, I think this is what a lot of men think all spinsters (and sister missionaries) are like. They think that spinsters hate men and are just plain angry because they "couldn't snag a guy." Who really has time for all that anger and vengeance? It consumed and ruined Miss Havisham's life, take note. While modern spinsters may go through bouts of loathing the opposite sex, it's not long before they are back to living their busy lives.

I love this picture. HA!

Well that's all the categories I could come up with for now. If you can think of anymore please comment.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Go Cougars! (and I don't mean the BYU kind)

If you are anything like me you may have noticed that the older you get the shallower the dating pool of men your own age gets. And when I say shallow, I don't just mean less guys, I mean kookier, less stable, more bitter guys (yes guys do get bitter too). But all is not lost, there is a veritable smorgasbord of hardy, dashing and charming males right under our noses! Who are they???? They are all those young men between the ages of lets say 21-27 years old that you thought you were too old to date.

Yes the future is bright for older, single women. The stigma of dating a younger man has almost fallen by the wayside, actually it's becoming trendy-just look at Demi Moore. A
nd this is where I come to the topic of Cougars. What is a Cougar? A Cougar is a single woman of a certain age that purposely dates younger men. Ok maybe the worldly view of the definition encompassing a little more than just dating, but that doesn't mean that single LDS women can't have their own version of the Cougar.

What really is so wrong with dating a guy 2, 3 even 7 years younger than yourself? I mean guys have been dating much younger women for...well...ever. A 28 year old guy can marry a 21 year old girl and hardly anyone bats an eyelash. Why can't a little older women have the same luxury? I actually find younger guys refreshing. They are less set in their ways and more open to trying new things. Ok so maybe they won't share your affinity for 80's music and they don't know all the characters on Saved by the Bell, but this is a small price to pay for finding a truly great guy. The Gen Y guy is also a different breed than the Gen X guy. Gen Yers are more forward thinking than Gen Xers, they are really more open to the idea of dating older women.

Now you may say, what about the maturity level, he is going to be so much less mature than me and we'll be at different stages in our lives. This isn't neccessarily the case with younger guys. Some people are naturally more mature than others no matter what there age and I don't know a lot of girls that would say that most guys over 30 that have never been married are quite mature. So maybe you're done with school and he's still studying away at BYU. Yes you may have to help support him through school, but again a small price to pay for getting to be with a great guy. And of course there is the perk that you won't out live him by as much as you would an older guy, since it's a fact that women live longer than men.

Basically what I'm saying ladies is don't discount the younger man. Broaden your horizons and just remember the formula half your age plus 7! (that's the youngest you can date ;), or so I've heard from numerous guys). Happy Hunting!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Where the Boys Are...

As a single gal it's sometimes hard to make plans for your life, because somewhere in the back of your mind you're thinking about getting married. It doesn't seem like the two activities should be exclusive of one another, but when you're planning your life you may not want to make plans that will hinder your chance for marriage or make plans that you won't be able to complete if you do get married and want to start a family. This is especially true for the single LDS woman.

Many of us are intelligent, independent, educated women that have lots of dreams and ambitions. But lets say one of these dreams is to join the Peace Corps, that's a dandy goal and all but how many single LDS young men do you think you're going to meet in your three years in the bush? Well unless you take one with you, then probably none. Maybe you'll love your time in Africa or whatever far flung place, but you basically are taking yourself off the market for three years. Now that is an opportunity cost. Is that fair? No. Is that reality? Pretty much yes. Hmm...
Ok so lets say your goal is not so exotic. Maybe you just want to get out of Utah and move back East. That may be a good plan, but is it practical for the marriage minded? Let's refer to some real statistics. I present a chart from National Geographic published in Feb 2007. For a better image you can go to the site

As you can see there are a lot more single women than men Back East (and in Provo) then there are in Mesa, Las Vegas, Dallas and most of California. So this may throw a wrench in your plans. You may have always wanted to live Boston, but if you do you may be spending more time with your girlfriends than with actual dates. Now this matter is even more complicated for the unmarried LDS gal because the majority of LDS members also live in the Western United States. While I couldn't find the map of US LDS membership that I have seen, I'll give you the salient information. Utah had about 75% LDS population while Massachusetts had about a 1% LDS population.
So what does a young spinster do? Take a risk delaying marriage or plant herself firmly where the single LDS men are? Well either option doesn't guarantee that your will find a spouse, but unless you have inspiration one way or the other, it's something to think about. And that's what this blog is all about, to think about the issues facing LDS spinsters. I personally would go out and live your dreams and hope for the best, but of course I am still single. :) Ladies, have any of you out there had to make that choice? What were the results?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

If Hilary Clinton were a Spinster I'd vote for her!

So it's been awhile since my last post, but I just found out today that I have readership! Exciting! So I thought I better get cranking out a few more posts, so my readers don't get bored and stop visiting my blog. I should probably say here that my posts aren't in any particular order and don't follow any agenda except to be an outlet for my thoughts on spinsterhood and anyone else's who would like to comment. I hope to shed light on the pros and cons of spinster life and look at how society views us and how we view ourselves. It's really a complicated topic, but I intend to look at it with some serious reflection, but also a good deal of humor. So dear readers please let me know how I'm doing and make comments. Thanks! Now on to the topic of the night. Famous Spinsters.

No doubt you know many unmarried woman. Everyone it seems has an aunt in their family who never married and did all of their genealogy work (really would any genealogy get done if it weren't for spinster aunts?) or were a part of some noble cause. I wish I knew their names and could tell their stories. Spinsters have always been in good company and some have become famous to history. Here is a very incomplete list of famous spinsters that I have complied (note some are fictional). If you find any more names please send them along.

Jane Austen (she heads the list because she is very well known for being a spinster and perhaps is a hero to single unmarried women everywhere)

Louisa May Alcott-writer of Little Women (she is probably my favorite spinster)

Emily Dickinson-poet

Emily and Anne Bronte-Emily wrote Wuthering Heights, they were sisters to Charlotte Bronte

Harper Lee-wrote To Kill A Mockingbird

Beatrix Potter (until the age of 47)

(It looks to me that spinsters make great authors.)

Miss Havisham from Great Expectations (spinsterhood gone very wrong)

Elizabeth I-ruler of England, daughter of Henry VIII.

Florence Nightengale and Clara Barton -both famous nurses

Susan B. Anthony-Women's rights advocate

Helen Keller

Joan of Arc

Mother Theresa- obviously she was a nun.

Mary Cassatt-artist

Janet Reno

Condoleeza Rice

Also some actresses of note: Sarah Bernhardt-early actress of the stage; Diane Keaton; Jodie Foster; Oprah Winfrey

And what of famous LDS single women? Well no list would be complete without Sheri Dew- the role model for all single LDS women everywhere. Also, Barbara Thompson is unmarried at the age of 55 and is the new 2nd counselor in the General RS presidency. Then we have Ann Osborn Poelman, a prominent cardiologist, who was a spinster for a long time before marrying Ronald Poelman, an emeritis general authority. She wrote a book about her story titled, The Simeon Solution, a very good read. And I've mentioned before Wendy Watson, a professor at BYU, who was single until her 50's when she married Elder Nelson. (Jenn do you know her?)

This famous spinsters list is quite interesting. Although all of the women found in the list were unmarried, they were not all the same. Some had torrid love affairs, some harbored unrequited love for unattainable men and some were quiet spinsters. But all in all they were strong women, who tried to make a difference with whatever talents they had been given. We are not alone.

for a more complete list of famous spinsters visit the following sites:

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Spinster Entertainment

There is nothing I love more than a movie or tv show about a spinster making good. Usually this involves snagging a guy, but that isn't the be all end all. Sometimes in the really good shows the spinster comes into her own and becomes her best self-- more confident and sure of herself, more successful, etc. The guy is really just icing on the cake. Take for instance the recent movie Miss Potter. Without wearing a smidge of makeup Beatrix Potter (Renee Zellwegger) becomes a children's book mogul, stands up to her parents, charms Mr. Ware (Ewan McGregor), buys her own farm and in the process becomes a conservationist. All I can say is GO BEATRIX!
My other favorite shows about Singletons making good:

Bridget Jones Diary I and II; My Big Fat Greek Wedding; Persuasion and The Nanny.
Also entertaining to me is any movie based on something written by a spinster: This includes anything by Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte or Louisa May Alcott.

Does anyone else have any favorites out there?

Friday, January 4, 2008

Spinster Sisterhood

As it turns out there are many self-proclaimed spinsters out there online. When I googled Spinster Blog I got 366,000 hits. Of course I didn't look at every hit, but here are some of the spinster blog titles I found interesting:

The Spinster Chronicles, Spinsterella, Urban Spinster, The Spinster Sister, Diary of a Mad Spinster, Spinster War Diaries, A Spinster for Life, Celibate in the City: My Spinster Prize, Spinster with Cats, Stories of a Silly Spinster, FrankenGirl: Who's afraid of a Spinster, The Spinster Girl's Guide to Love, Latter Day Spinster, and many others!

Some are by LDS women, some aren't. I haven't gotten around to reading many of them yet, but you will for sure get my views on them as soon as I do.

So why are we so ready to calls ourselves spinsters? I was starting to call myself spinster at 23! Did that become some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy? I don't know. Maybe we want to call ourselves spinster before anyone else has a chance to. Maybe we have resolved to stay single, so spinster just sounds appropo. Whatever the reason the word spinster doesn't have to be a bad word, actually it sounds kind of hip when you strip all past connotations from it. So lets do just that, let go of the past and embrace the future as single swingin' SPINSTERS!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

So what is a spinster really?

I found the following synonyms for spinster on miss, old maid, unmarried, virgin, woman.

I think virgin is my personal favorite. But even better are the synonyms for the above terms:

Old maid:-bachelor girl, fuddy-duddy, lone woman (like the lone ranger?), maiden, prig, prude (I guess we didn’t want to get married because marriage is just too naughty), single woman, spinster, unmarried woman

Unmarried (just the ones that relate to women):celibate, chaste, cherry, eligible, fancy-free, footloose, husbandless, maiden, old maid, single, sole, spinster, spouseless, unattached, uncoupled, unhitched, unwed, unwedded, virgin, virginal, widowed

Miss:damsel, female, gal, lass, lassie, maid, maiden, missy, schoolgirl, spinster, virgin, young lady, wench (oh, it just meant girl?),

What about Bachelorette?

So the synonyms do throw a light on how society views spinsters, they are prudish, virgins that are all alone. Interesting. I think the only definition that everyone could agree on though is that a spinster is an unmarried woman. But herein lies the question that all spinsters agonize over. Is a spinster someone who just happens not to be married or someone who is not marriable?

Sometimes it feels like that latter is true, but really can a spinster be stereotyped into a certain kind of person? Do they look or act a certain way? It can't be that all mousy girls with glasses and frumpy clothes are spinsters or that they are all pudgy and socially awkward. If those stereotypes were ever true, they definitely aren't true any longer. I know many gorgeous, confidant spinsters and actually very few demure, awkward ones.

Of course all women are nubile at any age in life. They may be getting married for the first time or for the tenth time at any age. And I'm not kidding about the tenth time, my mom's friend has been married at least that many times (is she going for a world's record?). Anyway just think of Wendy Watson who married Elder Russel M. Nelson recently. That was her first marriage at like the age of 50. But even though she was a spinster for a long time, it didn't stop her from becoming a marriage counselor. Well more later on famous spinsters, LDS and not, but I think the conclusion here is that a spinster cannot really be stereotyped. There may be a myriad of reasons for not being married, but I don't think any of them includes wearing glasses.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

This blog is by an LDS spinster for LDS spinsters. How would I define spinster? Well in society at large it's any woman say 40 or over that isn't married. In the LDS world it's much much younger than that. Anything over 25 feels spinsterish, but once you hit 31 and you haven't mangaged to enter marital bliss, well sorry, but you've reached your expiration date. They kick you out of the single's ward. because obviously the system has failed you. and you're put out to pasture. Not that giving up the singles ward scene is some great loss, but the message is loud and clear-it's too late for you. Ouch!
So in preparation for that event I got on the internet and started googling for some kind of support group for unmarried LDS women over a certain age. I couldn't find anything!
I know there are quite a few women out there in my same situation. I know more than a few of them myself. Great gals-- beautiful, intelligent gals, somehow marriage had eluded them, either by choice or happenstance or cosmic forces, who knows. But they are out there and they need to have a voice. So lack of a better option I have stepped in as that voice.
Now I don't know who is going to read this blog and how exactly they will find it. But I know it will serve as an outlet for me and maybe we can rally the troops and stop being a silent minority.