While recent studies may have tried to blame the increasing number of young single women on a "man shortage," there is actually something else to blame: more women don't want to get married. They're too busy getting advanced degrees, pursuing their dream careers, and exploring their independence. Or, maybe they haven't met someone who would be a worthy partner, and while they aren't opposed to finding a companion, they're not anxiously waiting with bated breath either; their happiness doesn't depend on marriage. And science shows us some of the ways in which single women benefit. For one, single women can spend more time with their friends, and that in itself improves health and happiness. Suck on that, "spinsterhood"! There are plenty of women who swear by being single, for the carefree, independent, and free lifestyle it allows them in achieving their goals. The New York Times reported that "the number of women between 30 and 34 who are not marrying has increased by 31 percent between 2007 and 2012." However, there have always been women who chose to remain unmarried. Now, it is slowly becoming more socially acceptable — though, trust, people still run their mouths. But in the past, a woman choosing to be single meant stigmatization and a lack of economic stability. Yet, many famous, brilliant women did just that and went on to leave huge marks on the world. Let's look at awesome women of the past and present who advocate for the single life.
1. Jessie Gallan
109-year-old Jessie Gallan of Scotland made headlines in January 2015 when she told the Daily Mail that the secret to living a long life is "staying away from men." Gallan elaborated, "I also made sure that I got plenty of exercise, eat a nice warm bowl of porridge every morning, and have never gotten married." Having been born in 1906, it honestly is amazing that Gallan never once succumbed to the fears of "spinsterhood" and instead made independence her priority. While she passed away in March 2015, we can be certain that it had NOTHING to do with a controlling, draining marriage.
2. Jane Austen
Jane Austen may have been a queen when it came to writing romances; however, girl did not need one to be fulfilled or successful (check that literary body of work — Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, need I say more?). Now, Austen did get herself a marriage proposal which she originally accepted, until she realized he was not a partner with whom she'd be happy. So, in 24 hours, she told him that she changed her mind like the bad bitch she was. Shortly thereafter, Austen sent a note to her niece that read, "Anything is to be preferred or endured rather than marrying without Affection." #preach
3. Louisa May Alcott
Louisa May Alcott was an #IndependentWoman who early on decided that it would not be marriage that allowed her to escape from poverty, but literary success. An 1856 entry from her journal reads, "I love luxury, but freedom and independence better." And even when she saw the riches bestowed on a recently wed sister during her honeymoon, she wrote in her journal, "Very sweet and pretty, but I'd rather be a free spinster and paddle my own canoe." This ideology also manifested itself in her classic novel Little Women, when Jo denies the proposal of a wealthy man.
4. Mary Cassatt
It's hard to care about marriage when you're a little busy being one of the only recognized and successful female Impressionist painters of the 19th century. Cassatt's paintings still sell for millions of dollars, and are famous for their depiction of maternal relationships (which points to the fact that choosing not to have children personally does not mean that you look down on those who do have children). Cassatt once said, "I am independent! I can live alone and I love to work!"
5. Mae Jemison
In 1992, Mae Jemison became the first American black woman to go to space on the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Before that, she was a doctor (no big), then she was in the Peace Corps (similarly no big), then NASA asked her to join their astronaut corps. Following her history-making turn as an astronaut, she guest starred on Star Trek and received 9 honorary doctorate degrees. Jemison is also still killin' it as an engineer and a teacher. Funny then that this 1993 article from People magazine somehow found it relevant to use the descriptor "unmarried," considering they could have used practically anything else. I think Mae might have been a little more interested in dominating her otherworldly dreams than getting married, wouldn't you say?
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