Reading writer Sara Maitland’s How to Be Alone I learned the origins of the word spinster. Get this…
“In the Middle Ages the word “spinster” was a compliment. A spinster was someone, usually a woman, who could spin well: a woman who could spin well was financially self-sufficient – it was one of the very few ways that mediaeval women could achieve economic independence. The word was generously applied to all women at the point of marriage as a way of saying they came into the relationship freely, from personal choice, not financial desperation.”
Great stuff, hey.
Back then, when a woman came into a relationship freely it was regarded as a good thing. How bloody interesting the term now comes with a derogatory stench (while a “bachelor” is truly a blessed being). And how bloody interesting that today a woman’s financial (and otherwise) independence is not really regarded as an asset to a strong relationship. At least it’s not really championed.
And, finally, how bloody interesting that the derogatory stench derives from the loneliness implied in being a single, economically independent woman. A sad loneliness…with cats.
And yet some of the most content, fulfilled women I know are single, economically sorted and don’t find being alone has to make you lonely. They also feel very secure in the knowledge that when they next enter a relationship it will be freely and without desperation. Meantime, they’re happy to spin, or knit, take lovers, have interesting friends, travel, dine, and the rest.
Don’t you think every woman’s independence before entering a relationship should be championed?