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The Single vs. the Unmarried Woman

The Single vs. the Unmarried Woman

When does a woman go from single to unmarried? That's the question Maureen Dowd asks in her New York Times column this week. She points to 50-year-old Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan as the public's latest spinster target, but it really raises the question for all women.

A single woman is full of potential and, her life, possibility, but she's really just 10 years, 20 pounds, and 30 gray hairs away from being labeled "unmarried." It's sexist (aren't men just eternal bachelors?) and unfair, but it's also totally true. I wouldn't exactly call my 50-year-old, never-married aunt "single." It's kind of like — though not quite — calling a woman over 40 a "girlfriend."

There may be plenty of famous women to challenge the single stigma, but is crossing the unmarried threshold as inevitable as menopause for everyone else? Or should we start minding our Ss and Us?

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Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 6 years
I mean 'as in' not 'and in'
Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 6 years
I know I'm late to post another comment... GM I understand why childless offends you but child-free sort of offends me, as if children are something to be rid of (STD-free, cancer-free, cholesterol-free). I prefer does/does not and did/did not, and in, "I did not have cereal for breakfast" or "She does have a red shirt on today." I can't think of a more neutral way to say it.
Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 6 years
I'd rather be called unmarried than a spinster.
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 6 years
IMO, "unmarried" implies that marriage should be what every woman strives for, and while marriage can be a wonderful thing for many people (I'm married and I love it), not being married doesn't make a woman (as mintyboy said) abnormal or inferior. Exactly.
bryseana bryseana 6 years
It's hard to take on gender roles that have existed for thousands of years. Women have it tough in certain areas. Men do too. Men are pushed to be breadwinners and to hold their feelings inside, etc... Double standards on both ends.
runningesq runningesq 6 years
Is a man ever "unmarried" when he's past a "certain" age? No, he's a "bachelor." (wow, that's a lot of quotations in one sentence!) IMO, "unmarried" implies that marriage should be what every woman strives for, and while marriage can be a wonderful thing for many people (I'm married and I love it), not being married doesn't make a woman (as mintyboy said) abnormal or inferior.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 6 years
Personally, I think the "unmarried" label has a derogatory undertone. In my language, I would rather use "single." By the same token, I don't like the word "childless" to describe a married couple. My husband are I happen to decide to not have children, and we were once referred to as a "childless" couple. To me, there's a negative nuance. It's subtle, but it's there. Personally, I fancy us "child-free." :)
mintyboy mintyboy 6 years
I'm currently 23, never had a bf and can't see myself with one. I hope by the time I'm 40, this "spinster" label/stigma will be a thing of the past. I think the worst is that WOmen are typically the ones propagating this notion that we have to get married unto other women by making the latter feels utterly inferior and abnormal. For myself, I was born alone and will die alone (not to be morbid but those are facts) and it's ok; if someone comes in at a certain time, I won't shun him away, but my life won't be over if there's nobody there either. There are other things to occupy my mind with than whether or not I'm married when I'm old.
KateAthens KateAthens 6 years
My auntie is 45 and divorced. Her boyfriend is 59 and everyone in the family still calls him boyfriend. So why a woman at 40 can't be girlfriend of someone? So its Milfs and cougars and the rest are just "unmarried"?
stephley stephley 6 years
Do people really spend time worrying about classifications like this? How ridiculous.
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