Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spinsters near and far

So my research on Spinsters around the globe has not turned up as much information as I had hoped, but I have found a few interesting tidbits. My first question was what are spinsters called in other countries. Here are a few of the results I got from Babel Fish:

German- Unverheiratet Frau (Unmarried woman)
or Alte Jungfer (Old maiden)

Italian- Zitella
or Donna Celibe (celibate woman?)

Russian- Ctaraya Deva (Old girl)

Spanish- Solterona (single one?)

Dutch- Oude Vrijster


But I asked my friend from France the word for spinster and she told me it was Vieille fille (Old girl). Here are some snippets from our conversation:

So at what age are you a vieille fille in france and what kind of stereotype do they get?

My friend: Considering that the average age for a woman in France to have her first baby is 29 you're not a vieille fille for us yet. You're just starting your life girl! To be a vieille fille is not so much a matter of age but a matter of behavior to us since getting married does not mean much. We have actually more chirldren born out of wedlock than in. So when you meet a woman of 50 years old who has never been "married" she could very well be a happy mother of three (one just starting her career, one at university and one still a teen).

so vielle fille is not really used much anymore? Is it a derrogatory term? so people don't feel any pressure to marry or start of family from society or their parents? what about in the church?

My Friend: LOOOOOOOOL this is such an American question. Oh nooooo. People really don't feel any pressure to get married. Actually what happens very often is that people get married after having raised their children (if they have not split up before). Vieille fille can still be used but since it is such a seldom thing we don't use it that much and it is therefore even MORE derrogatory. It takes a lot to be a vieille fille. It takes not only to never have had sex but also to be narrow minded and stuck in the time of your youth.
As far as the church is concerned there is not so much social pressure but people feel a lot more pressure from the church. Then you want to ask me why it is this way and then we will start on another subject that will take a lot more time to answer.

So I guess France is the place to go if you don't want to feel any pressure to get married! But not everyone has the French attitude. Here is an excerpt from a very interesting blog from a girl in Jordan, I suggest reading the whole thing at Memoirs of a Jordanian Spinster!!

She starts her post like this:

"Don’t be surprised! Jordan is one of these countries that if you are a woman and did not marry before the age of 25; panic attacks start hitting your family and specifically your mother, and they start doing their best to change this status to married so that they can finally rest and breathe that they did what they were supposed to do.

Suddenly; your mother wants to take you with her to any social call she is making, even if you don’t know the people or you don’t have anything in common with them; your mom will do her best to show you around to her friends and relatives and will go on and on about how successful you are, smart, obedient and how you would make a great wife and mother.

When you go to wedding parties, women will salute you and say in a low tone: By God's will; next time it will be your turn!! When will they learn that this is not a nice wish? It is as if saying we hope that one day you will get married as if this is the ultimate achievement in life!"

It sounds like Jordanian mothers aren't really that different than Mormon mothers. They still say the same things at weddings that they say here, "Next time it will be your turn!" Could that be a the most dreaded comment a spinster could receive anywhere?

Well I will keep searching and try to find more about spinsters from all over the planet, but until then I hope this suffices. Over and out.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Just a side note

I can't believe how many people from all over the US and Europe have looked at my blog. I have really no idea from my cluster map if some people are return visitors or somehow accidentally ended up at and have never returned. I think I want to make some sort of guestbook that people could sign in, anonymous or not, and say where they are from, whether they are a spinster or not and how they found the site. But until that day when I get more techsavvy, you can always leave a comment on the latest blog with some info, just for fun, and maybe any ideas you have for new posts.
Ooh and also, let me know if you have a spinster to nominate for Spinster of the Week. They don't have to be famous, just interesting in some way. I think one time I will spotlight one of my great-aunts that never married. Also if you find any great quotes or related websites, I'd love to hear about them. Thanks for you input!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Would a Spinster by any other name...

Is it bad to call yourself a Spinster? My roommates don't want to read my blog because they don't like the idea of calling oneself a spinster. If you call yourself such does that mean you've totally given up on the idea of ever getting married? If you call yourself a spinster does that mean you want to hole up in your apartment and become a bitter "old maid". (Just a sidenote, I find it interesting that we call those kernels of popcorn that never pop "old maids". What's the significance of that? Do people think that single women that never marry are useless, wasted things? Interesting...)

Why do I call myself a spinster? I thought about this for awhile the other day and I came to the realization that I call myself spinster because I want to be part of a group, I want to have a niche. I could just call myself single, but then that lumps me in with all people, male and female, ages 18-99, that have never been married or are divorced or widowed, etc. There's too many singles to really feel like your part of a group. (Another sidenote, why is it that people are called singles or married people? Why not marrieds or single people? Do we not get person status until we are married?). Ok so it's a much smaller group that are women ages 25/30 and up that have never been married. There is more solidarity with such a group, we can sympathize with and support one another in a society largely prejudiced towards us.

Also I want to take back the word spinster and make it my own, free it from the connotations it holds. I found an interesting article on the internet with this quote from Grumble Magazine (I can't vouch for this magazine because I don't know anything about it, but I liked this quote),

"Ladies, in the great tradition of under-served, marginalized and downtrodden people, we need to reclaim a certain word that defines and labels us as "less than". The word I am referring to is "Spinster". We have been called many things throughout the years: "Old Maids", "Career Girls", "Maiden Aunts", and most recently, and appallingly, "Sex & The City Girls". None of these terms encompass what we are, what we can be if we mobilize. If the gay population took back "faggot" and "queer", and the black population took back "nigga'", then why can't we take back "Spinster" and make it our own, define it our way? I say we can."

Anyway, it's just a thought. I think I have embraced my spinsterhood in a way some others haven't. I may marry one day or I may never marry, but I don't want to spend my life in a limbolike state being neither here nor there. For now I am a spinster and that is no bad thing. For now I will enjoy my life and live it on my terms, without feeling like I am less than I should be. Thank you.