Kate Bolick joins Today to talk about her book, Spinster, and says we should rethink the single woman experience. Unmarried women share their thoughts on what the term “spinster” means to them.
Watch the video and say whether the statements below are true or false.
1 The first woman interviewed says a spinster is usually in her 50's.
2 The third woman interviewed says a spinster wears black.
3 Kate Bolick does not have a positive idea of spinsters.
4 In Kate Bolick's opinion, a lot of spinsters have been successful.
5 There are more single women in US than ever before now.
6 Many unmarried woman are focused on their professional life, and they do not prioritise marrige.
7 Kate Bolick had dreamed of marrying when she was younger.
We are back now. It’s 8:38. With an unprecedented shift in 2014 for the first time singles outnumber married people in the US. Kate Bolick wrote a book about it for The Atlantic and it’s a piece that quickly went viral. She’s now following that up with a book called Spinster, making a life of one’s own. We’re going to talk to Kate in just a moment, but first we asked a few women what the term spinster means to them.
When I hear the term spinster I think of the little lady who’s alone living in that house at the end of the street with 50 cats and she’s by herself, lonely and sad, it’s a bit scary.
I think of a woman who is independent and she doesn’t need a man to survive.
When I was growing up the image of spinster that I had was a school teacher from Little House on the Prairie and a black Victorian dress, who was not always happy and sometimes bitter with her lot in life.
Kate Bolick, good morning to you.
Starting a conversation again. Spinster is not a word, as we just saw, that most people associate with positive things. Are you trying to kind of reclaim it in this book?
I am. I think that spinster is an excellent way to broadcast our conflicted attitude around single women, and a way to think about how we can rethink the single woman experience.
And that’s what this book, your article, of course in The Atlantic, really caused disturb, takes it to the next step I guess it’s sort of in praise of a single life that you choose.
Exactly, I wanted to show that the state of being that many women avoid, unmarried and childless, has been a state of being which many women have thrived, past and present, and amazing things can happen when people are alone.
But there’s so much cultural pressure to pursue that certain course. You write at one point in the book, “whom to marry and when will it happen, these two questions define every woman’s existence and govern her until they are answered, even if the answers are nobody and never”. Is society ready for women who decide to, you know, I think I just kind of, maybe I’ll just have relationships, maybe I just won’t get married.
I think society is catching up that, you know. It’s hard to bring attitudes up to date with demographic shifts, it always takes a while, where we still have attitudes that our parents and grandparents dealt with and they were dealing with a different reality on the ground. But now we have more unmarried women than ever before, and it’s really changing the landscape and changing the conversation.
There is a distinction to be made. So is this a question of women who are saying I don’t want to be in any relationship or I just don’t want to be married, that marriage is obsolete in my view.
It’s a lot of things, actually. In all of my reporting I only talked to a handful of people who say I never want to get married, that’s not for me. Mostly the story is about women who are really excited about their careers or their educational pursuits and just keep pushing marriage off, that still feel like something is wrong with them or feel that they are alone in that decision.
And generationally it also must make a real difference.
Yes, absolutely. I see that women of my generation, they are the ones who, we’re a transitional generation, so we tend to grow up thinking that we’ll get married some day because that’s what people do, and then we hit our mid 30’s and go through this internal paradigm shift for like, wait a minute, I’m not married and I love my life, so who knows what’s gonna happen?
There’s a lot to be said for it. I have to say you have a part in the book where you’re talking about walking down the street in the middle of the night, you’re eating a big mac, I remember those days, those are good days. Absolutely. The book is called Spinster, by the way we asked folks to weigh in the Orange Room, our viewers, that asked them the question whether or not being married was easier than being single and 59% said, no, actually that being single was harder, yes it was wait... Is it easier for a woman to be married than single? No, 59%. I think I had that all tops and curvy. But anyway, it’s a good discussion to have, one that will continue online. Kate, thank you very much.
Thanks so much.
1F 2T 3F 4T 5T 6T 7T