Did you ever stop to think about the term ‘spinster’ and how it has come to be used in a very derogatory way; to describe a woman who lives alone and never married?
Well…here is how that came about:
Wool happened to be a massive European industry during the Middle Ages.
A lot of the wool and the land was owned by Monasteries and Landed Gentry and since the spinning of this wool into cloth was seen as a very feminine occupation and WAY beneath the monks and the men, they hired women to spin it.
Turns out, this was actually a great job to have; it paid well and allowed the women to look after themselves and become stable and independent. Making their own choices.
You see where this is heading don’t you?
It was also a pretty respectable position to hold and so women who became ‘spinsters’ really had all they needed; the respect of their peers, a place in society, money and stability.
At a time when men treated marriage as an ownership deal, I am guessing, aside from friendships and some fun, there was little else those empowered ladies really wanted for.
They had all they needed, thank you very much indeed. If they wanted to go on and have children they absolutely could but perhaps many of them chose not to.
So, the next time you hear someone using the word ‘spinster’ to describe a lonely older lady, bitter and wizened, looking back on a ‘life full of regrets and missed opportunities’, perhaps you can do me a favour and correct them…
Spinster: a woman who, in a time where men were in charge, had it all pretty much under her control. She did it her way, on her own terms, in her own time and at her own free will.
Not a bad rep.
Ladies, you know what to do…
PASS IT ON