As I was growing up, I was taught that girls who did not marry were considered to be spinsters or, as they are better known, old maids. My grandmother had two spinster sisters. I didn’t think less of them for not being married. Also, I do not recall anyone else ever having any derogatory things to say about either of them.
From as far back as I can remember, I was taught that I would grow up, get married and have lots of babies. This, I was told, is what all good girls do, and of course, I was a good girl. My mind was set with the parameters to finish high school, find a husband and get started on having nine children.
Dreams become askewed and plans are altered.
Reading storybooks and fairy tales to children, a pattern emerges to the adult in the room. Okay, it should. The stories we read to children all seem to have a similar theme, women have to have a man in their lives to matter and they always need a man to rescue them from the monsters that exist in the world.
Many years ago I wrote a blog post (in a now defunct blog-o-sphere) about movies and television shows of yore where the women were always fainting and hiding behind men. This was to depict on the screen that women were frail and fragile, needing a man to protect them.
Disney movies perfectly portrayed women in the same light. In recent years, they did produce some movies with a stronger female lead, however, there was always a man standing near to, once again, demonstrate that women need men in their lives.
Then Disney produced a pleasantly surprising movie called Maleficent. A friend absolutely loved this movie and kept suggesting I watch it. Earlier this year, I rented it on iTunes just to be able to tell my friend I saw the movie. However, I was floored by the ending. Maleficent featured not one, but two strong female leads and while there was a man standing near at the end, it was depicted in a manner that neither woman needed a man in her life to be complete. She could be strong and whole, facing monsters and demons on her own and the man was just a nice addition on the sidelines.
It is the twenty-first century and society still believes a woman’s place is in the home with a man to go out, earn the living and protect her and any offspring who happen to come along. Many believe it socially acceptable, because of the constantly rising costs of living, for the woman to work outside the home. However, she must have a man in the home to take care of everything else.
Many years ago I was engaged to be married. I was not in love with this man. I was simply marrying him to get out of my mother’s house. Since I was raised to believe I had to get married to have a meaningful life, I was willing to marry the first person to propose.
I thought I needed a man in my life to be whole and complete.
Happily, I was wrong.
We still see movies, books and television programs being hurled at us emphasizing that people, especially women, must get married. Why? Women can now hold down prominent jobs and even run major companies. Women can protect our cities and our towns. Women have even returned to the status of ancient times and go to war and fight side-by-side with the men. So, why do we NEED a man in our lives to be complete?
Twenty to thirty years ago, I felt I was letting my family down because I was not married. As I went through my life, I met women who were afraid to be alone. It seems they always needed a man in their lives. I have even known some women who, when their husbands were out of town on business, would either stay with their parents or have a friend come and stay with them because they feared being alone in their own home.
We as women do not need to have someone else in our lives to feel like we are a valued member of society. We can be alone. We can earn our own way in life. We can stand on our own two feet. We can protect ourselves and any offspring who happen to come along.
I am a spinster. I am an old maid. According to societal norms of yore, I am both of these things. NEVER AGAIN!
I am a woman. I am intelligent. I pay my own bills. I protect myself. I have no man in my life and do not feel the need to have one. I am a woman who has never married and has no plans to ever be married. Do not pity me. I am fine in this state. I am a strong, independent woman. There is nothing wrong with men and they are welcome in my life. However, I do not need one to be absolute. I stand whole and complete in my own right. Rise and stand complete even if you are not married and let Old Maid just be a children’s card game.