An Atlantic contributing editor’s refreshingly bold and incisive account of how she came to celebrate her status as a single woman.
As a young woman, Bolick was in turmoil over the “dual contingencies” that govern female existence: “whom to marry and when it will happen.” She had always believed that she wanted marriage; yet even her earliest relationships revealed that while she enjoyed loving men, she was “most alive when alone.” Continually questioning how she wanted to live her life, she spent her early adulthood in and out of committed and noncommitted relationships. But it wasn’t until her 40th birthday that the still-single Bolick had the insight that would change her attitudes toward spinsterhood and show her that she “was now in possession of not only a future, but also a past.” In looking at the biographies of literary women she especially admired—most notably, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Neith Boyce and Maeve Brennan—she realized that all had lived full and vigorous lives that included loving across genders or within the context of open marriages. Moreover, she also discovered that these women were part of a larger history of women who had actively chosen to seek alternatives to traditional heterosexual/monogamous lifestyles. As Bolick traces her evolution into a woman unapologetic for her choices and unafraid of her own personal freedom, she also reclaims the derogatory term “spinster” for all females, married or not. For her, the word is “shorthand for holding on to that…which is independent and self-sufficient” rather than one that gestures toward prudery, coldness and repression. Ultimately, to be a spinster is to be part of a distinguished sisterhood of women boldly “living life on their own terms.”
A sexy, eloquent, well-written and -researched study/memoir.