By Bunmi Sofola
“Show me a married woman over the age of 35 and I’ll show you somebody who has been told that she’s too fussy’ more times than she’ll care to remember,” so said Stella in her reaction to an earlier write-up on happy spinsters.
In her reaction to Kate Bolick’s controversial book titled Spinster: Making A Life Of One’s Own, Stella completely disagreed with Taiwo’s view on the said write-up where she moaned it was no fun being a spinster.
She continued: “In the bizarre and baffling world of human relationships, being choosy about the person you want to spend your life with is considered a bad thing.
You can be fussy about your choice of sofa, or where to go on holiday but when it comes to the single most important decision you’ll ever make in your life, the message seems to be just settle down. Anything is better than nothing as long as you don’t end up on the shelf.
“I clearly recall in my mid 30s (when I was just perching on the shelf but not beyond rescue) dating a man I had doubts about. He was nice enough but wasn’t much fun and seldom made me laugh.
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I lost count of the number of friends and relatives who urged me to ignore the fact that he was a little dull because ‘I was getting on in life and he had a good job’. ‘You’ve got your friends to have fun with. He’ll get snapped up if you let him go’ was the consensus.
“Well, I did let him go and they were right – he was snapped up. I wondered then if I would later regret some of the decisions I made about boyfriends. Now at 49 years old, I can say I don’t.
“I’m glad and rather proud that I didn’t allow myself to feel pressured or panicked into being with somebody who didn’t feel right, as so many of my friends did. In fact, the very same women who urged me to be less fussy are now the ones who tell me how much they envy my life.
“They’re the ones stuck at home with moody teenagers who are not likely to leave home until they’re 30, and a boring, lazy husband they don’t seem to even like, let alone love. I have freedom, a good amount of disposable income and only myself to please.
“According to statistics, about one in four women in urban areas will be single by the time they hit 40. It’s crazy to think it’s because none had the opportunity to marry. Today’s modem, self-supporting woman doesn’t feel the need to get married out of duty, fear or social pressure. Like all the unmarried women I know, I’m not anti-married, I’m asked most often whether I worry about growing old alone with no children to look after me. Yes I do.
“But having children doesn’t mean they will be on hand to take care of you as I’ve recently witnessed with one elderly neighbour who hasn’t seen nor heard of her son, an only child, since her stroke last year. A lot of friends who gave their blood and sweat for their children’s foreign education now have children who sneer at coming back home for anything – except maybe quickly come home for their parent’s funeral then leg it back as quickly as they could.
“The good news is that once you are over 45, the pep talks about being too fussy tail off. The bad news is, this is when the pity kicks in. Yet all my spinster friend in their 40s and 50s are strong, feisty women who are still as proudly fussy as they ever were.
Sadly, some people just can’t seem to make their peace with the idea that a woman can be unmarried and happy. But as I look at friends trapped in miserable marriages, I rather feel the joke is on them,” she concluded.
“As a little girl, I dreamed of a white wedding dress. It wasn’t until I actually ordered one, 30 years later, that I realised the truth – I didn’t want to be anyone’s wife,” said Mandy, a 45 year old solicitor. “As soon as he made one silly mistake, I called off my wedding ten years ago in what I now realise was an act of self-sabotage. Since then, every failed attempt at a romantic relationship has only confirmed the suspicion I had then – for me, marriage would be like forcing a round peg into a square hole”.
Reacting to Kate Bolick’s engrossing memoir, she said: “I am more convinced than ever that being unmarried by choice is a growing and legitimate trend. When the author eulogises the ‘extravagant pleasures’ of being alone, she speaks for so many women who are solo not because we’ve been passed over by men – but because we have passed men over.
“We are capable, high-earning women who are opting for a life alone because we prefer it. Alone, not lonely. There’s difference. The other day, I woke up, got myself a cup of coffee before driving to my office. When I got home, I had a lovely takeaway that I popped into the oven which I watered down with a good wine. After dinner, I went through a brief or two before making a cup of herbal tea. I then slipped between the crisp sheets of my king-sized bed with my giant teddy beside me. Perfection.
“If you ask me how that same day would have passed with any of my last three ex-boyfriends, my answer would be somewhat tedious, very stressfully, and with hidden tears of frustration. I would have been drawn into a dozen logistical nightmares over accommodating his life before I could even think about mine.
“He would have wanted a far more complicated dinner than a take-way. Pounded yam maybe – and I hate that stuff. We would have then watched a boring programme until the early hours, too bored and fed up with each other to even try to have sex. Now, I ask you, what’s in it for me to live like that?
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“I suppose, you would say, companionship or the joy of children. The problem is I have never had a great yearning for babies and my friends make great companions. People say ‘Oh, but what will you do when you’re old?’
“But whenever I’ve been ill, boyfriends have been useless. I have always ended up texting a girlfriend for help. Men are so selfish that whatever happens in a woman’s day, it’s all about what he wants for dinner – it’s called open – break syndrome!
“As for the financial position, I get the impression that as girls achieve more academically, increasing number of women are earning more than most men they date. That is a double-edged sword, as women are finding themselves the target of gold-diggers.
“Men have suffered this for centuries, of course, but whenever I meet a penniless man, I find myself thinking: ‘Not so fast, loverboy’. I haven’t been careful all my life so that I can be taken for a ride, as have several female friends.
“The fact is that women are evolving. We would look back one day and think it was ridiculous we used to feel pressure into marriage. Women are more independent than men, the stronger sex when it comes to both caring and crises.
“Isn’t it the lionesses of the pack who do most of the hunting? Maybe marriage made sense in the days when women couldn’t own property or vote. But now we are financially independent and free to achieve more than ever in our working lives. So why on earth would we shackle ourselves to someone who is constantly asking ‘what’s for dinner?’”