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Revitalizing Spinster

September 4, 2013

Apparently Facebook would really like for me to be in an abusive relationship. That’s the only takeaway I’m getting from the iPhone app’s constant ads for Match.com and Amazon’s Audible, which will allow me to fulfill my life’s dream of listening to Fifty Shades of Grey. 

Yep. Apparently even after I’ve cursed and tongue-lashed the hell out of my computer as a byproduct of finally finding a way to hide the box on my profile that’s very disappointed in my lack of relationship status, everyone’s most loved social media giant to hate is still none-too-subtly telling me to get with the program. Obviously they’d love me to go all the way so they can inundate me with ads for wedding venues and photographers, but I’m sure a declaration of myself as Facebook Single would be a perfectly acceptable go-ahead to making every ad a Match.com shill.

But since I don’t give enough of a fuck about changing my marital status to even go for Match’s lower-rent, lower-class stepsibling OKCupid, I’m sure as hell not putting myself in Facebook’s box (heh) to classify myself as single to them. That portion of my About Me will remain enigmatically blank until Facebook finally gives into my demands (okay, so all the demanding I’ve done has been through this blog, which they–and everyone in the English-speaking world!–should totally read) and allows users to define their own relationship status on their own terms.

Turns out there are some pretty awesome terms out there, as I discovered the last time I offered Facebook an overflow of white whine. “Flying solo,” I’ve decided, is going to be the title of the book I’m invariably going to publish when fellow disgruntled daters realize that eating Chinese food and watching Netflix on a Saturday night has its definite advantages. And the sass of telling people that “I’m my own better half” sparked a self-fulfilling prophecy when I realized the unassailable truth to that statement!

Alas, as evidenced by the plethora of dating site ads I get now as well as the jewelry store ads telling me I’d better force my then-boyfriend to put a ring on it, Facebook is stolidly rooted in tradition and likely won’t expand outwards to embrace anything new. But who can blame the company? Every trend piece in the news, no matter how questionable the trendiness really is, always attracts a fit of curmudgeons and pearl-clutchers moaning about how this right here is all the proof we need to show that society is going to hell in a handbasket, which shows just how out of touch they are, seeing as how handbaskets haven’t been a credible fashion accessory for CENTURIES.

But somewhere between the traditionalists and the radical granola-crunching commie pinkos, there have to be people who are open to the concept of different lifestyles, even if they’re not so game to shake their own lives up from the societally-approved course. And those people are just going to be confused, possibly put off, by any newfangled term for “happily single” that requires an extensive explanation of its existence.

Which is why I’m going with linguistic reappropriation to describe myself to casual acquaintances and my half-assed petitions to Facebook for more relationship status options. After all, reclaiming once derogatory terms has worked before. Words like “geek” and “nerd” used to solely connote people who got wedgied so badly they’d have Fruit of the Loom imprinted on their teeth, and now you can’t go on the internet without someone proclaiming their desire to fuck our bespectacled, luscious brains out!

My top candidate for this reappropriation, as you might have gathered from the title, is the word “spinster.” I mean, take a look at its history! In its strictest sense, it refers to a woman who spins thread and then, by extension, turns that thread into cold, hard cash.

Spinning was a great way for women who missed the boat on marriage and babbiez to support themselves. And without the husband to take the earnings into town and spend it on ale and workers at Ye Olde Strippe Clubbe, not to mention the children’s clothes and shoes, these women could be comparative financial powerhouses in their communities. Plus, those clothes had to come from somewhere, so spinsters still managed to provide an essential service to their communities in spite, or rather because, of leaving their contributions out of the gene pool.

Of course (and do forgive my outright oversimplification here–I know that explaining sociocultural phenomena in one sentence is not pipe-smoking-and-tweed-jacket-wearing-academic approved), the idea of an unfettered woman controlling her own finances and, by extension, life was just a little too much for The Man (both upper- and lowercase) to handle, so “spinster” acquired the sneer we’ve all at least implicitly heard.

I say we sneer no more. Yes, I’m well aware of the fact that the cranks and pearl-clutchers are still deeply afraid of female empowerment and would hate a revitalized spinster as both person and concept. Which to me is all the more reason to embrace and embody the potential you-go-girl in the word: unburdened and rolling in dough? Forget about Match.com, I’ll sign up for that seminar!

There ya go, Facebook. It’s an advertisable product to support your expanded status options. But since I’m guessing you’re still going to pepper my mobile feed with Audible ads, could ya at least make sure they’re hawking books that feature real BDSM? Even us spinsters have needs, ya know.

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