Thursday, January 27, 2011

Spinsters

Phoebe has a post up that continues an on-going theme over at her blog about marriage and female age. In this latest post, she contrasts too common narratives used to explain why women of a certain age aren't married -- Miss Pickies, Waity Katies. As the names imply, Miss Pickies, as younger, more attractive women, were too picky and dumped marriageable men; Waity Katies, in contrast, waited too long for marriage phobic men to pop the question.

What always strikes FLG about women who are worried about getting married isn't what the decisions they made in the past, didn't settle or waited too long or whatever, but the issues they have now. The women FLG knows who want desperately to get married would be so much better off if they devoted the time spent lamenting past decisions towards asking questions about their current situation. Sure, their past actions might give clues into what issues they have, but invariably FLG hears some tale of woe regarding some stupid decision(s) they made years ago.

Look, there's additional societal pressure on women to get married that's not there so much for men. There's the additional biological pressures, if we consider that marriage is often an important step toward children. FLG gets that. However, almost without exception the issue isn't decisions made in the past, but dealing issues affecting them right now, regardless of whether they are Miss Pickies or Waity Katies, that would be most fruitful.

First and foremost, why do they want to get married so bad? Maybe they have very clear and awesome reasons. Maybe they don't. Far better to ask why they feel the way they do now than to fret over decisions and "mistakes" long since made and with the tint nostalgia. Again, however, FLG thinks the most effective, if most difficult to implement solution, would be not to care about society's expectations.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

My wife had a great line: "Men are like streetcars. Wait ten minutes, and another one comes along"

and then all of a sudden, it's midnight, and they stop.

My sister spurned various plausible suitors, and now is a spinster aunt at 57 - beloved by her nieces and nephews, but she always thinks about what might have been.

It's very hard to know. You're young and toothsome, the guys cluster around like maggots to rotting meat, and then all of a sudden, like there's a signal, they are gone. You can never be ready!

You see some women who have settled too soon, what a dweeb, she coulda done better. Some women are 36 and guys still respond, some, the phone doesn't ring for months. dave.s.

arethusa said...

Of course, this "Waity Katie" got a future king.

If you Google Waity Katie the top hits are Kate Middleton. I suspect she may put the phrase out of business - or make other Waity Katies think waiting is worth it.

Phoebe said...

FLG,

The post wasn't about the woman who wants to get married, but about the conversation among professional advice-givers around the idea of such a woman. At the end of the post, I mention that I don't think women of the demographic being targeted by Gottlieb and Yoffe, at least, have many problems getting married, if this is what they want.

dave.s.,

It's not some great secret kept from young women that they will not always attract as many men. Age isn't everything, and there are 50-year-old women doing better than other women did at 25, but women get that there's a general pattern even without men, social commentators, spelling this out.

The woman who wonders what might have been... could just as easily be married and wondering what if she'd stayed single. The "spinster" (defined as both unmarried and regretful) is, often enough, a woman who has rewritten the history of her own love life, whose boyfriends were not all that "plausible" as husbands for reasons even her brother might not understand (esp. if she's idealizing them now!), a woman who wanted to stay single just as much as another woman wanted go get married, but who now faces social pressure to say she did the wrong thing.

Arethusa,

"Waity Katie" was indeed a reference to the (possible?) future queen of England - not random, certainly not my invention. I'm not aware of the expression having been used in any other context.

FLG said...

Phoebe:

Sorry, I should've been clearer in my summation of your post.

Phoebe said...

FLG,

No need to apologize. I point this out because you're arguing that women shouldn't care so much what people think. And I'm saying that women don't care as much as advice-givers would have us believe, that the 'crisis,' such as it is, does not exist.

Phoebe said...

Or to clarify, my post is not about why alllll these women who wish they were married are still single. It's about the silly reasons women are told to change their behavior so as to avoid a problem they're unlikely to even face. So basically I'm agreeing with you that people, women included, should do what makes sense for them.

 
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