“Old and Bitter”

Over the past seven months, I’ve sold a home, purchased a new home, gone through family health scares, and dealt with health issues with my two “babies.” Throughout all of it, one thing has remained fairly consistent; at least . . . Unsolicited commentaries and criticisms from grown men . . . I must be “old and bitter.” It’s an interesting conclusion that almost all men like to jump to, when a woman doesn’t agree with or placate them. “You must be old and bitter,” they say.

Soon, I will be at the midway point between 40 and 50 years old. According to the World Life Expectancy website, a woman like myself, in the United States, can live an average of 82 years. So yes, I am just a few years past halfway. However, I don’t know that it makes me “old.” Even Dictionary.com defines “old age” as, “the last period of human life, now often considered to be the years after 65.” Therefore, I have a solid 20 years to go, before I am truly “old.” Bitter, however, is a little harder to define and determine. My thumbs venturing back to the smartphone screen to research the definition of “bitter” on Dictionary.com, all it says is, “characterized by intense antagonism or hostility” and “resentful or cynical.” Hmm, this could be interesting, and to be fair, worthy of investigation.

I was recently contacted by someone I knew in high school. We had reconnected half a decade ago, discussed possibilities of friendship and romance, and even met up for dinner. At dinner, he wound up stiffing my sister (as we met with other friends) with a $100+ alcohol tab of his, while he dashed out to an ATM that seemed to never deliver any money. Then, over the course of three years, he did everything from stand me up, ask me for “dick pics” of other men I had been involved with, spoke incredibly ill of his girlfriend (whom I did not even know existed until six months into our reconnect), and was just an overall ass. He was full of insults, demeaning behavior, and generally poor manners. I would likely have to be mentally unsound, in order to have had any interest in him, in the end. Yet, he still felt it necessary to track me down in my newest city of residence, plan a trip to visit (uninvited), and harass me almost the entire time he was here. A barrage of “won’t you come out for a drink” texts, quickly followed by, “You’re a bitch” texts, and of course the . . . “You must be old and bitter.

About four years ago I met someone and fell for him pretty hard. It didn’t work out as a romantic relationship; however, it seemed to be a really great friendship. We were friends through other relationships and involvements,. I was a shoulder when he needed one. I was transport and support when he needed it. I was included in his life, his child’s life, met all of his friends, and spent time with him almost daily. I don’t know that many of his girlfriends even spent nearly the amount of time with him that I did. And at times, it almost felt as though I was never apart from him.About 8 months ago, we had a falling out. It was just one of those things that happens, when you spend too much time with someone, whom you’e not legally bound to. I was constantly compared to his girlfriends, I was giving more than I was receiving, and I was emotionally and mentally spent. Even worse, I was in love with him. I had to break away, and I did. I separated myself. I couldn’t stand how I felt, and how he made me feel . . . Never quite good enough, never quite matching up, always somehow letting everyone down. It’s a terrible place to be, and it was making me mean and resentful.In my breaking away, I decided to move 250 miles away, and be closer to family. I bought a house, and quickly got swept up into dishonest sellers, home repairs, family turmoil, accidents, surgeries, medical diagnoses, and so on. I was more than busy. And then four months ago, I got a text. The message alert rang in ears with hesitation and apprehension. He missed me. He had a lot going on, and wished I was there. He needed me. And the old, “What if it was you all along? What if the perfect girlfriend is my best friend?” “Stay alert,” I thought. “Proceed with caution,” I warned myself, but I felt that I needed to proceed, just to see where it would go. For six weeks, I heard “I love you,” “I miss you,” “I’m moving to be with you,” and “I want to marry you.” Still, I was guarded. After all, I knew him, I knew how he was with women, even though I still loved him.

After six weeks, and a visit to see him, it all imploded in grand fashion. Not for lack of me finally buying in and giving it a chance. Not for lack of me not being giving, loving, and accepting. And not for me not heeding signs or warnings (there were very few). He had been seeing someone else, lying about it, and creating a story so immense and ridiculous, that I am still in awe that anyone would’ve believed it. Really, most surprisingly, the other woman believed it, even with an obscene amount of evidence to the contrary. He painted me as “crazy,” “needy,” and even tried to portray me as some sort of “thief” (after he returned something of mine that he had taken). It seemed as though he created a grand skyscraper, just to push me off of the top and laugh as I tumbled down, but . . . My proverbial parachute opened. I held my ground, stood up for myself, and got the better of him in a smart, well-planned, well-executed, and hilarious way. The details of the story are great, but not appropriate here and now.

In the midst of all of this, other, bigger things were happening. Thankfully, these things (though some upsetting) constantly demonstrated how trivial and ridiculous the drama caused by these men was, and is. It still stung, but it was in perspective. And in the meantime, I’ve watched him, and his new girlfriend, spiral into some of the meanest and most ill-mannered and hateful people you would ever meet. They deserve each other, and I am happier for the near escape.

Back to the issue at hand . . . Old? No, not quite yet. Bitter? Well . . . After all of it, I have not been antagonistic, nor have I been hostile, but I have stood my ground. Cynical? Yes, I will admit to that. After almost 45 years of life, which has included horrible people who have made it their mission to try to tear me down, make me feel like nothing, and tried to make me into a joke, probably. Resentful? I do resent the bad things that have been done to me, who wouldn’t? But I am not resentful 24 hours a day. I am well aware of, and grateful for, my family, my closest friends, my career, my education, my wonderful “babies,” my home, and so much more. I am lucky, and not resentful overall, at all. So, really, no, I’m not bitter, either.

The older we get, the more knowledge we gain. That experience turns into warning signs and cautionary gut feelings. You learn not to ignore those, as much as we would like to live in the moment. Therefore, instead of “old and bitter,” I would say that I am, “experienced at life.” A vast and notable difference, really. I don’t jump into things without considering the potential consequences, especially when it could involve some of the things that I am so grateful for having. And no one should, really. Reckless abandon is really for the young. The really young. The ones who haven’t quite learned what’s worth holding onto and what’s worth letting go. So call me, “old and bitter,” if you want and if you must, but I will counter and proclaim, “EXPERIENCED!” every time with pride.

You Don’t Need THAT Much of a Dream Home

I recently decided to sell my townhouse and move to another state. I’ve lived at my current residence for almost a decade and a half. It’s a nice home, and it has served me well. However, as time has gone on, I have outgrown the townhouse, and I am now “busting at the seams.”

It’s an interesting thing to see the reactions of others, when you make a big life decision. Their judgements and opinions of you come dancing and leaping into the light. At times, without them even realizing it.

The conversations end with comments like, “You don’t need a house that big. It’s not like you have a family.” And, “You couldn’t possibly take care of a house by yourself,” or “What do you need all of those bedrooms for?” Then there are the friends and loved ones who feel that you are somehow making a statement about their lives and success (or lack thereof). They offer gems like, “You couldn’t possibly afford that kind of house. Isn’t it extravagant?”

The best was from a dear loved one, who kept sending me house listings for homes that were almost half the size of the one I would be moving from. She noted, “I wouldn’t need something that bid, so you shouldn’t. They’re cute and quaint. What would you need all that room for, anyway?”

It’s as though the world thinks that, if you’re single, you shouldn’t take up that much space. As if you should leave the world without making any sort of mark. And it’s presumptuous and arrogant, if you want more than what they think you are entitled to. I get the distinct impression that the attitude is that, if you are unmarried, you have not earned your right to have a home of your own.

Truth be told, the purchase of a house would be A LOT more manageable with a contributing, romantic counterpart. However, it has been my personal experience that men have no inclination to be a “contributor,” and are happy with any sort of life that they do not have to give money toward. Now, I will note that I know many men who are NOT that way. They are decent human beings and would not use a counterpart for comfort or financial gain.

Even the process of selling my townhouse is not without its judgement. I bought the home when I was 30 years old. An average age for new homeownership, a townhouse was the perfect purchase. I did begin my life as a homeowner with a boyfriend who lived with me for the first seven years. For all intents and purposes, he was a renter. He barely paid his fair half, and at seven years, expected to be a part-owner of the property. To his surprise, common-law marriage was not a thing in my state of residence. In fact, I made sure of that, before I ever agreed to live with him. Call me a “pessimist,” but better to be safe than sorry. Once he did confirm that he would not just be handed half of a property that he made no investments in, he manhandled me once, then was asked to move out. He truly felt that not even contributing the minimum entitled him to half of what I had. My response to him was, “Why would I commit half of my home to you, when you wouldn’t even make the commitment of marriage to me?” One of the only times I witnessed him speechless.

You are entitled to what you earn, in this life. It doesn’t matter if you’re married, single, childless, parent a hoard of children, so on . . . If you pave your own way, and make enough to purchase your dream home, you should do so with gusto and pride. Do not let anyone steal your thunder, or judge you for wanting a home of your own.

What If This Isn’t My World?

Years ago, when I was about eight years old, I remember laying in my white canopy bed with frilly, pink bedding, thinking, “How did I get here, in this body? How did my soul end up in this exact place?” I asked my mother, and I don’t know that she ever understood what I was asking fully. To be fair, the question was coming from a child, so she assuredly saw it as a basic inquiry. I never could understand how a soul floating around in space, would end up in a specific body, with a specific family, and live the particular body in which they landed. I had a bit of a disconnection, at times, with everything around me, because I just couldn’t understand where my soul came from, and how it ended up where it did.

About a year ago, I was having a tough time with some things. I asked one of my dearest friends if I was having a “mid-life crisis.” She responded with, “No, you’re having an existential crisis.” She may have hit the proverbial nail upon the head, but I don’t know that the crisis was limited to last year. I think I’ve been having that existential crisis my entire life. I grew up in a very Italian area. I was notably not Italian. I was very “Nordic,” in comparison. I mention this, because I looked, sounded, and acted differently from the other children. To add to that differentiation, I loved castles, unimaginable beasts, magic, mysticism, and anything that was not quite of this world. That bothered some kids, but I was fine imagining and playing on my own, anyway.

I often daydreamed that I was part of another world, and that at some point, someone would come through a great sci-fi portal to bring me back home. Wherever home was, that is. As a child, I was fairly convinced that I came from a world where people looked and acted more like I did. I felt like, somewhere, there was a home that I was missing. Somewhere, I fit in. 

Some thought I looked like the literary descriptions of elves. Not the elves that make Santa’s Christmas happen, but the ones from fantasy books, who were tall and slender, with fair, glowing skin and pale eyes. It gave me hope that, maybe, there was a world out there that I would fit in. Some place where I just “fit.”

Although I’ve grown up, that feeling has never completely left me. That feeling of being uncomfortable in your own skin. That cloud of not being like anyone else in the world, and never really fitting in. I’ve never been an extrovert, or an outgoing life-of-the-party type. I’m uncomfortable in most social situations, and prefer to keep to myself and “people watch.” At times, it really does feel like observing some foreign species that I just don’t relate to. Heck, if someone showed up at my door tomorrow, and said that they were here to take me back to some other world, maybe everything would suddenly make some sort of sense. 

I rarely approach or handle things like other people. The world is very “black and white” for me. In most situations, there are very defined points of “right and wrong.” I was recently speaking with my sister about how we grew up. She said, “Most people don’t seem to understand why it’s so easy for us to be ethical, but I don’t know any other way to be.” You see, my sister and I grew up in a household that was very strong on ethics. My parents are still married, even after 55 years. They have stayed faithful to one another, without question. My mother once said, “Your father would have never cheated on me. Not because he loves me so much, but because you just don’t do that. That’s not something that is in his ethical makeup to do.” The comment seemed both sweet and sad, all at the same time.

My sister and I were raised viewing the world very differently from other people. We were expected to handle everything, remain strong, and power through any issues. If something needed to be moved, we moved it on our own. If a spider needed to be taken care of, we were the removal crew. Even when I fractured my foot, I was expected to get to the car (to go to the Emergency Room) on my own. When I failed to make it to the car, (upon request for assistance) my father simply said, “Hop.” In our household, there was simply never any allowance for “girly-ness,” “femininity,” or weakness. 

This expectation of being strong has stuck to me through adulthood like super glue. Even when I tried to avoid it at all costs. I once asked a male friend to walk me to my car on a late, dark night. He said no. He wouldn’t even watch me walk to my car. He said, “You’ll be fine.” I wasn’t fine, I was nervous, and apprehensive. I didn’t feel safe. Months later, I found out that he was walking his new girlfriend a couple of blocks, from one destination to another. The distance he walked with her was viewable from his place of employment and did not exceed two city blocks. One day, I asked why he would walk her, and not me, when I had asked. He said, “Look at you, no one would bother you.” He never did elaborate on that more, but did (in the realization of hearing what he had said) try to then say that his girlfriend seemed more like a “victim” than I did. 

The expectation is to “need” men, and to have them take care of you, if you’re a woman. Society is pretty unforgiving, if you’re a woman who can live without one. However, I have never understood what society thinks will happen to women without men, when they need to handle “manly” things? Are we expected to fail? To flounder? Or to take care of it ourselves? And if we take care of it ourselves, why are we condemned, and not regaled? 

Ultimately, I am a breed unto myself. I sit alone in a world of species whom I do not understand, nor do I really relate to. And I continue to wait for my companion to show up and escort me back to a world where people think, act, and look like me.

Life is Short, Live it Now

Throughout time, people will come into your life, and people will leave your life. Some may be around a lot, some may just spend a moment. Those that make the biggest impact, and share the most love, are the ones who leave the biggest void when they go.

Years ago, I also lost a young family member. He had been sick most of his life, and we were all blessed to have him around for the time that we did. In the brief two decades I shared with him, he left an important lesson . . . No matter how long your life is, life is short. You never know. Even when you have a hint, you never know. Even when he went, and we knew he would at some point (it was certainly not a surprise), I was still not ready for him to not be in my life anymore. That is one of life’s events that you are NEVER ready for. His lesson always stays with me, but sometimes, it gets pushed into the back of my brain more than it should. Until, that is, you get another painful reminder . . .

I found out this morning, that I lost a dear friend. I didn’t spend much time with him as I should have, and I will always regret that. I did, however, speak to him via social media, quite often. In all my 40+ years, and amongst all of the people I have met in my life, he was one of the ones who left a mark. He was a dear, sweet, kindhearted person, who left a vacuous void in countless people’s lives.

This friend of mine, he always thought of me, and many other people. In his death, his Facebook page is flooding with people remarking, “He was my best friend.” More than ever before, I see people leaving wonderful, loving words for this man. This simple man who loved others more than he ever loved himself. And even more amazing, he never bragged about it. He never boasted about all of the friends he had, or how much he did for others. You just didn’t know. He made you feel special individually. 

Isn’t that how the world should be, though? The world should be full of people with humility, positivity, good nature, and love for others. People should know that it’s the small things. The little things, like a silly Facebook post, or a kind word, that make people feel loved, sometimes at their worst, or even their scariest, moments.
We spend so much time trying to impress people, worrying about how we “look” on social media, working until we drop, leaving our families behind . . . And what will we have at the end of it all? PEOPLE are the most important thing in life. More specifically, the people we love. 

This friend of mine, he kept asking for me to come back and visit, as it had been awhile since I had seen him. I kept saying I would. I would try. But I didn’t. What would it have taken, really? A charge on a credit card? We charge credit cards every day. Some time off of work? I have stockpiled my personal time off almost shamefully. Worse, I love travel. Especially, air travel. Even worse, he’s not the only dear friend at that location. Some of my other most beloved friends and people live there. I have no good excuse, other than I let time get away from me, and I shoved that lesson about time too far back into my head. 

People aim for milestones in life, more than anything. They dream about love affairs, weddings, promotions, success, children, and on and on. So much so, that they forget to live in the “here and now.” Life is finite, we should ALL live in the “here and now.” It’s not about being married, or not being married, having kids, or not having kids, how old you are . . . It’s not about those milestones. It’s about moments, single events, individual people. It’s about those whom you love. 

I urge everyone to stop, evaluate what and who is most important in your life, before it’s too late. Life is short, you get no “re-dos.” Tell people you love them every chance you get, go see them, without delay. Live without fear and apprehension. And always remember that life lesson . . . No matter how old you get, life is a gift. 

In loving dedication to my dear friend whom I didn’t get to see one last time. Much love in the clouds with lots of puppies, and all that other “guy stuff.”

Waiting for Happily Ever After

Once upon a time, I wanted a family of my own. I can’t say that I “wanted a husband,” or that I “wanted children.” I wanted the whole package. This, of course, is something that eludes a lot of people, but I was not about to seek one out without the other.

My life has not been devoid of relationships. I have had a few. Most of them were more about what my counterpart could get from me, and me providing a more stable and comfortable life for them. After walking away from, and looking back on, the long-term relationships, I can honestly say that I left those situations with little-to-nothing to gain from the other person. That’s a sad thing to realize, as you get older . . . That you weren’t a “real” person to someone, and that your worth lay in how you could make their life easier. Not one of them would’ve stood up for me, helped me, held my hand when I was unwell . . . They were in it for them, and only them. 

A common point of conversation lately is one of people seeming to be mystified that I no longer seek out dating and/or relationships. I tried the dating apps, dating websites, meeting people through friends . . . Frankly, it’s just too stressful. It’s draining. It’s self-esteem killing. I expressed to someone recently that I have no desire to waste my precious time trying to make a relationship out of a situation that I know is not what I want. I’ve actually become someone fine-tuned at being able to discern a situation doomed to failure long before the first date. Some may say that it is “pessimistic” to look at it that way, but why waste anyone’s time? I want what I want, and it would be a disservice to anyone to try to make something out of something that I know I don’t want. 

I do not view people as perfect/imperfect. Rather, it’s more a situation of variables. What one person wants is not going to be what the next person wants. It’s all relative. Granted, there are common interests. You’d be hard-pressed to find any heterosexual woman who wouldn’t show some interest in someone like Brad Pitt, but that’s not to say that all women would want to bear his children. It’s all a give and take, and what is perfect for one person, is a total mismatch for another.

I have always wanted a counterpart, a puzzle piece, a slice of my own perfection. I will not compromise. Not anymore. I wasted too much time on the wrong men, because I tried to make something out of a situation that didn’t offer all the ingredients necessary for it to work. It’s not about changing yourself for another person. It’s about not having to change yourself to make your companion happy. If you have to adjust who you are, you are with the wrong person. People are fallible. People are flawed. There is no perfect person. The goal is just to find the person who is perfect for you. The one you work well with, whom you would give your life for, and they would do the same for you. 

Not long ago, I had to tell an old friend that I was not romantically interested in him. He was one of the sweetest, kindest men I knew. For years, he romanced me with poetry, flowers, graces, so on, and so on. By all accounts, he was as close to the “perfect man” that I had ever met, for any woman. When it came to me, it just wasn’t there. No matter how I tried, I would just not feel the same way. And to be honest, I didn’t see how he felt so enamored. Even after years of knowing one another, he did not really know me. He could tell you my favorite movies, maybe even my favorite foods, but he did not know who I was at my core. He knew the social media version of “me,” not the “it’s a horrible day” me. He had spent years building up an image of who he thought I was, but it wasn’t real. I asked him to back off and just get to know me as a person, a friend. I thought that maybe, if I got to know him on that comfortable level, maybe I would have a love for him that would be fostered and grow. It didn’t. In fact, he kept on with the flowers, the poems, and the “push.” I wound up finally asking him to stop and abruptly telling him that I was not interested and never would be, in that way. He turned in an instant, going on about how I had “led (him) on.” It ended our friendship.

I could have just kept my mouth shut and lived a lie to get my own family. But I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t take part of his life away for my own selfishness. What service would it have done? THAT is NOT love. By not going down that road, he is free to find that one person who is perfect for him, and will love him in the way that he deserves, without the compromise.

Call me a “dreamer,” if you must. You can disagree with me, too. I have to live my life, and walk my path. I just want to make sure it’s with the right person. And in the end, if there is no “right” person, I’m okay walking with my dogs, who really do know me better than anyone else, anyway.

The Storm Cloud of Spinsterhood

Most little girls grow up with fairy tales. Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, they all end up with the epitome of happiness in the end . . . The man, the marriage, and the “happily ever after.” There’s a scene from one of my favorite movies, The Mirror Has Two Faces, that addresses just this thing (https://youtu.be/EcuhMYVjY_Q). The point of it is, they never tell you the “after.” 

I was once in a long-term relationship that lasted over a decade. Seven years of which, we lived together. There was never a proposal, and rarely a word or conversation about going down to the courthouse and filing those important papers; let alone, anything culminating in a grand display of his “love and devotion” to me. Somehow, the absence of this grandiose celebration rendered my long-term relationship invalid in the eyes of almost everyone. It didn’t matter that we functioned as a married couple. It didn’t matter that, when we parted ways, we had to divide things and suffer the emptiness left behind from the other. It didn’t matter that we were more devoted to one another than most joyous young couples who are currently planning to walk down the aisle. None of it mattered, because I didn’t have that ring around my finger. He never “loved me enough” to “seal the deal.” It’s always amazed me that, in order for others to take a relationship seriously, a couple has to plunge themselves into enormous debt and unimaginable amounts of stress, in order for anyone to consider their coupledom worth, well, considering.I recently had the honor of attending the nuptials of my cousin’s daughter They had a gorgeous wedding, it was a great party, and they deserve every happiness that the world affords them. The family could not be happier for them, and has been happy for them for their entire journey. Those same family members didn’t seem to be able to muster the same happiness for my sister, who became engaged for the first time at 51 years old. The whispers of “desperation” floated through the air, as the judgement on her fiancé bounced alongside of them. People just couldn’t find the same happiness for her that they had bestowed upon my cousin’s daughter. 

All of this begs the question . . . Where is the line? When does the view of joy turn to a view of disdain? When does the happiness turn sour? When does elation turn to pity? Is it in your thirties? Maybe so. Somewhere around 32 or 33, I think. That notion that, if you were worth “getting,” you would’ve been “gotten.” 

The storm cloud that hovers over the unmarried-and-childless-over-35 woman is that no one “wanted her.” No one found her “good enough.” And it prevails in everything from career to personal life to family life. Everywhere. These are sometimes accompanied by the whispers of lesbianism, but ultimately, the onlooker’s conclusion is that this woman must be so defective that, even the lowest of the low, didn’t find her worthy. 

The irony is that the same is not true for men. Unmarried and childless men are heralded as “players,” “don juans,” and “confirmed bachelors.” Men are never branded with something as heinous as, “spinster.” They are high-fived and congratulated for “dodging bullets,” and not making “bad choices.” For not succumbing to the wiles of an unworthy woman. No company or professional organization would even think to consider a man’s personal life, when they are being considered for a job or promotion. They would never weigh the absence of marriage and children, as a commentary on their value. No one would even make the connection. However, for women, if that part is missing, there must be something horribly wrong with their makeup, their character, their person. Was it their looks? Their constitution? Their personality? Why would anyone take the chance?

This is not to imply that women should never marry. I do think that marriage should be a mutual agreement, or pact, of working together to survive this world. A partnership that means you always have someone on your side, someone in your corner. I never aimed to be unmarried or childless. It’s just what life offered me. I wouldn’t compromise. I didn’t want to marry for the sake of marrying. I just never received the memo telling me that the world would hold such condemnation of me in doing so. I honestly thought that people would consider me wise, and of good judgement. I thought that I would be applauded for knowing myself. My wonderful sister should be commended for waiting until she found someone she considered the perfect match for her, and not taking any lesser offers. Alas, people think she is just jumping on the first life boat in the shipwreck of age and spinsterhood. 

I would like to note that, women who are divorced, are exempt from all of the notions carried by unmarried women. Divorced women get a societal “pass,” because they were “chosen” by someone at some point in time. Someone found them “worthy,” it just didn’t work out. Someone found them “good enough” to bestow a ring upon their delicate finger, it just unraveled later. 

Most women live their lives dreaming of their wedding day. The end-all-be-all of existence, when a man has declared his love for you, and rendered your existence valid. I was honestly no different. Growing up, I had the magazine clippings from Bride magazine, and the daydreams of what a reception would look like, who would be in my wedding party. After all, nothing, and I mean nothing, is as important as getting married (so society told us). You could have a PhD in Physics, but you are “broken,” if you are not married. You could be the President of the United States, but it wouldn’t matter. It’s sad, and terribly unfortunate. Even in today’s world, women are valued and judged by the salutation before their name, and the jewelry on their hands.

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.