(I’m trademarking that sucker)
Tis Mother’s Day weekend and I am not a participant. I have no children and my own mother passed on in 2013. (She wasn’t crazy about the holiday. I pointed out to her once that she seemed to be as far away from her children as possible when it rolled around. She didn’t deny it)
I am not, nor ever have been, married. I’m not alone. (And I’m not defective, either. Let’s be clear) I’m also well past my twenties, which is the traditional age range for marrying and starting a family (although, that seems to be stretching on the back end onto one’s thirties). The labels women of my situation have had to endure are such quaint terms as “spinster” and “old maid.” Men get to be bachelors all their lives. I know; it’s an old complaint, but I suspect men are the ones who made the naming rules.
Without the task of bearing and raising children, I’ve been free to, quite literally, move around the country, as wanted (or needed. I’ve been in that situation), pursue a career that I wanted as a child (without much success, but I pursued it), and go through some serious shit without worrying about dependents and what would happen to them.
I propose that, in the 21st century, we shed the old, rather derogatory terms and replace them with a new one:
The Free Range Woman is just that: she is able to pursue her own path (which may lead to marriage and family even in middle/old age) and does so.
With the advent of animal rights, locavore, farm to table, food-related movements, “free range chicken” has become part of the lexicon. These hens are allowed room to be chickens rather than penned into a tiny space.
“Spinster” and “old maid” are terms that have been around at least 200-250 years. They’re antiquated and carrying the baggage of patriarchal expectations that girls would grow into wives and mothers or be on the fringe of society because they didn’t find a way into the acceptable status. Think of Miss Havisham in “Great Expectations”: not being married wasn’t her fault, but the shame and humiliation of having been jilted left her mentally and emotionally stranded at that moment for decades. She had one job…
“Unmarried woman” brings up images of a Jill Clayburgh movie from the 70s and a line from “Private Benjamin” where Goldie Hawn, the newly widowed and unhappy about being single Judy Benjamin, wails “I would have been Mrs. Alan Bates in a heartbeat.”
Free Range Woman also looks good on a T shirt. And may have mathematic meaning. (I didn’t do well in algebra and math, and my mathematic consultant passed away 12 years ago).
The next time some dipshit asks me why I’ve never gotten married (A more subtle version of “What’s wrong with you?”), I shall smile and answer, “Because I’m free range, Baby.”
Then end the date.