The unmarried spinster
Can this please just go away forever? The whole concept of a spinster is so antiquated and ancient that it shouldn’t even be a word we know anymore. Thank goodness it’s fallen out of favor and considered completely insulting to use. But the idea still abides. For some reason, an unmarried woman is somehow considered damaged or broken, and once she hits a certain age, she’s completely ruined without a man, apparently.
Blame it on Miss Havisham, but an unmarried woman of a certain age is not something our culture values or even tolerates. In fact, Amy Schumer herself comments on the shelf life of a woman by remarking on a woman’s last attractive day (warning: the clip is uncensored). This is a contribution to the conversation about spinsters, maiden aunts, crazy cat ladies (which I am proudly one), and the grand dames. These stereotypes are born out of the notion that a woman needs a husband to be viable, and once she gets too old for anybody to want her, she’s completely worthless. Although our culture has smartened up, and has ceased to depict these ladies on screen (mostly), it doesn’t shy away from using them as cautionary tales for young women. It’s like the worst thing you can be, and characters are often working hard not to turn into a spinster.
A woman’s worth is definitely not rooted in her marital status, and it certainly doesn’t expire with age. These tropes portray older women as nothing more than worthless, driven crazy by the absence of a husband. You know the sort: shuffling around her crowded apartment, stacked high with old books and magazines, smoking a cigarette from a long holder, swishing in her caftan and musing about how her life could have turned out if she had married that man. Just no.
Examples: Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Mad Men, Doctor Who