The Low-Hanging Fruit

My birthday is just around the corner. It’s not really important which one it is (once you’re over 40, it doesn’t seem to matter anymore). While driving a friend to work, he reminded me of the impending day, and I had to hear about how I’m “old.” It’s worth noting that he is only a year younger than me, and (as standard practice) dates women young enough to be his daughter. And it would be comforting to think that he was the only man who had this opinion, but he’s not. Far from it. Somewhere along the line, someone decided that older women weren’t desirable, sexy, attractive, or even valid. And to be fair, it was probably a man.

I don’t know that I ever saw myself as “pretty.” I have a lifetime of people telling me that I’m not, even after a short stint with modeling. It’s been 40+ years of people not just “making me aware,” but going out of their way to “notify” me of how “not pretty” they think I am. As if it was their moral and social obligation to let me know, and not go through life blissfully unaware. Dating websites were the absolute worst. It’s a free-for-all of jilted men who have this burning need to insult and berate women they do not know, in sad attempts to make them feel better about themselves. Through it, I’ve heard some horrible things from people. Things that shock some, and would amaze others that they had even been uttered.I have family members who feel it is now their obligation to go against what these people have said, and try to tell me daily that I am “beautiful.” With over four decades of random and unsolicited opinions to the contrary, the encouraging words sting more than comfort. They anger, they don’t encourage. 

In never thinking I was “pretty,” I also never thought that I was “ugly,” either. I never saw myself as some sort of mutant or otherwise. About a decade ago, I was in an unhappy relationship and had gained a notable amount of weight. Once I left that situation, I got to work at being healthier. I lost over 30 pounds at one point, and felt so good about myself. The comments were almost immediate . . . “You’re too skinny,” “you look sick,” so on. I had a coworker say, “You need to stop losing weight, because it’s hard for everyone else to.” Wow. Just . . . Wow. The backlash was immediate, and big. And I didn’t understand it, because I was happy, and I felt good. Healthy. I was a lot more confident. Then, I gained two-thirds of it back. That seemed to comfort people, oddly enough. So now, I’m not skinny, I’m not healthy, I don’t feel good, and I’m still not pretty. At least, a few years ago, I was skinny and confident.

On top of all of that, now age has caught up with me. I would like to note that I don’t really look my age. Good, bad, or indifferent, I don’t look my age. Most people guess me to be in my thirties. And that’s okay, but it serves no purpose. I’m still, well . . . My age. And when that comes to the opinions of others (especially men) in society, looking young means nothing. In today’s world, men may say that they lust after women like Jennifer Anniston, but in reality, what would their peers think when they find out she’s almost 50? It wouldn’t matter if a woman is a great catch, if she’s smart, sexy, funny, warm . . . She’s old, and that just doesn’t “look” good.

So what is to become of these “old crones?” We would be foolish to ever expect a man to step in. And why would they? We’re not children. We’re not living “sex toys,” who drive their friends green with envy. Women who are older, more independent, and more settled in who they are, are much more intimidating anyway. They aren’t impressed by a man’s clean apartment, or the sports care they don’t know how to drive. After all, they have their own clean home, and their own sports car that they’ve mastered. They’ve impressed themselves beyond what a man can do. It’s much easier to reach for the low-hanging fruit of youth, instead of the blooms that grew higher for the sun. That said, it never fails that the man doing the reaching is likely to be angered by the fruit just out of arm’s length, so he tries to knock it to the ground where he thinks it “belongs.” I mean, everything in the world should “know its place,” right? 

In a just world, older women would be heralded as the bigger prize. They are much more difficult to obtain, after all. It would take someone very special, very accomplished, and very dedicated to hold onto a woman who doesn’t need him. And realistically, that’s just to hard for most men. That lower fruit is just so much easier. Not as sweet, but easier.

What Is a “Spinster?” Welcome…


What is a “spinster?” There are a lot of varied opinions, amongst the people I ask. The opinions range from “prude,” “inexperienced with men,” “unwanted,” “defective,” and all the way around. According to a Google search, it’s, “an unmarried woman, typically an older woman beyond the usual age for marriage.” a quick look at the online Urban Dictionary states, “Old unmarried woman. Not necessarily a virgin.” Then there’s this gem from vocabulary.com:

Spinster originally meant “a spinner of thread,” and as that was a job typically done by unmarried women, it came to have the meaning — even in legal documents — of “single woman.” Another term for spinster is the equally old-fashioned sounding old maid. Either way, it means a woman who never got married. Spinster is not a word you should call anyone: it reduces single women to one detail about their lives.

We can all agree that the main definition would be an older, unmarried, and childless woman. This is not to include a divorced woman, as she would be a “divorcee.” The definition is not of much concern, and would typically go into the “who cares” category. Unfortunately, it’s the implicit bias that causes the rub. Literature and society are at no shortage of older, unmarried women who are independent, inspiring, and strong. Just do a search of any of those women, and you’ll see that the rumors and theories of them being homosexual are not far behind in those searches (simply because society needs an explanation as to why a woman would be a spinster). It’s worth noting that, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being homosexual. It’s no different than someone being a brunette or being tall. However, you wouldn’t look at someone and say, “Look at that unmarried, childless, older woman…she must be a brunette.” See how utterly ridiculous that sounds? 

What is implicit bias? According to the Kirwan Institute (http://kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/research/understanding-implicit-bias/)

 …Also known as implicit social cognition, implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control.  Residing deep in the subconscious, these biases are different from known biases that individuals may choose to conceal for the purposes of social and/or political correctness. Rather, implicit biases are not accessible through introspection.

The implicit associations we harbor in our subconscious cause us to have feelings and attitudes about other people based on characteristics such as race, ethnicity, age, and appearance. These associations develop over the course of a lifetime beginning at a very early age through exposure to direct and indirect messages. In addition to early life experiences, the media and news programming are often-cited origins of implicit associations.

How does this translate into every day life? You may not think you’re discriminating, but sometimes…It just happens without you even realizing. I have a friend who is a Jack Daniels Squire. In order to become a squire, you have to be nominated by another squire. He was randomly pulled from a tour of the distillery and nominated by our tour guide. In the two years since his own induction, my friend has nominated numerous male friends (some who are not even really fans), but no female friends. One might explain this by saying that he doesn’t know that many women who are fans of Jack Daniels. However, I am actually a stockholder, I own various bottles of Jack Daniels, have repeatedly gone on the tour (even with him), own more JD swag, and I am just as big of a fan as he is. That said, he has never even asked if I even wanted the nomination. When I mentioned it to him, he said, “I didn’t know you wanted to be one.” And there it is, that nasty little implicit bias where, my being a “chick” supposedly eliminated my desire to be a part of the organization, where his non-fan male friends would want to be. It wasn’t a malicious judgement, but it was a judgment. He did not leave me out to be nasty or intentionally exclusionary, but that assumption that I would be disinterested in something considered “male,” was an example of preconceived notions about me, based on my gender. 

How does this parlay into being a spinster? Well, being an older, childless, unmarried woman carries with it the “joy” of A LOT of preconceived notions and biases. Many are subconscious, many are blatant. What is certain is that it is one of the last remaining types discrimination that society deems to be “okay.” Much like “dumb blonde” jokes (come on, they’re “just jokes,” right?), these notions, media promotions, and attitudes bleed into everyday life.

And this is what Spinister is all about. It is an abolishment of those preconceived notions and implicit biases. It’s a discussion about what life is like to be older, unmarried, and childless in this generation. It’s a redefinition of the term, spinster, to show that it truly should mean strong, independent, and free-willed. Welcome to the conversation.