Old Maids

Old Maids–spinsters–were one of the favorite tropes in the Gothic romances I read in my youth. Women too poor, too unattractive, or too socially unacceptable were labeled old maids and “put on the shelf.” If they were rich. If they were poor, they became paid companions or governesses, or burdens on their families. Or they were locked up. In Gothic romances, the heroines always found true love.

But fiction isn’t life.

A woman doesn’t need a man to define her. Nor does she need a label. What is a man who has never married called? A bachelor. No stigma there. But Old Maid? It still carries a pitying connotation.

So why is there such a thing as National Old Maid Day? Many internet sites try to put a positive spin on the origins of the day, but in truth, women were expected to give up their own hopes and aspirations to care for ailing parents or younger siblings. Sacrifice was demanded from them.

Here’s an interesting article from 1917.

I think this is  one holiday that can fade away without a sense of loss.