Q Dear Miss Abigail:
My sister is thirty-two years old and unmarried. Is she an old maid? Is there any hope or should we give up?
A Dear Antoine:
Give up? Thirty-two is certainly not dead. Besides, she might be perfectly happy with her singleness. I bet she’s absolutely joyous!
Even though it is not wartime, I believe Bernarr Macfadden’s words in Womanhood and Marriage can offer some appropriate thoughts. Apparently it’s not the lack of men that keep woman “unhappy,” it’s the lack of children. Hmmm, interesting…do you think dogs count?
1923: The Old Maid
Some few years ago the phrase, “bachelor girl,” was a popular one, and we still have her with us, though the name is less used. The bachelor girl is an unmarried woman, of almost any age, who has gone out into the world of business and is leading her own independent, and generally very efficient, life. She carries with her no suggestion of failure. No one could ever think of her as a remnant on life’s bargain counter. She has remained unmarried because no man came into her circle of friends who possessed enough attractions to woo her from a life of “single blessedness.” It would sometimes seem to be something of a reflection upon the men of the present time, when one looks over the women who would have made such splendid mothers, but who have persistently remained outside of the bonds of matrimony. The bachelor girl has managed to escape the narrow life and weazened existence of the traditional old maid; but has she after all nothing to regret?
There are many allurements in the single life. There is, for example, the greater freedom which comes to one who has no one’s needs or desires to consider but her own. She can live her own life, which is what so many of us clamor for in the early years of adolescence. She is free to let her amibitions have full sway, and she may, therefore, achieve success ~ in some instances a noteworthy one. Yet we may ask ourselves, Is she always satisfied?
While she is young and everything comes her way, she is too busy climbing from one point to the next on life’s ladder to ask herself this question. When she reaches middle life and finds that she has achieved all that she dreamed of, and possibly more, there is little room for this question. But as the shadows of life begin to gather around her, and she finds herself left more and more alone because those of her own generation are silently departing to other shores, more and more frequently must the question return to her, “Is this all? Has it been worth while?”…
Although they may never know the intimate joys of marriage, there is no reason why they should be deprived of the deep and lasting happiness of motherhood. Without any doubt, the greatest, the most lasting, most satisfying happiness that comes to woman, comes through the gratification of her maternal instinct, and it need not necessarily be her own children who bring to her this satisfaction. There are today thousands of little children left orphans because of war, and no woman need ever be without little children in her home…. There will be no drying up of the fountain of life as the years go by, but rather will it grow richer and fuller from year to year. Thus may the bachelor girl insure herself against the dreaded fate of ever becoming that pitiful creature, the traditional old maid.
Source: Macfadden, Bernarr. Womanhood and Marriage. New York: Macfadden Book Company, Inc.,1923.
~ pp. 19-20, 21-23 ~