The word spinster calls to mind a very specific image for most people—old lady, surrounded by dozens of cats in a rocking chair. I also think of Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson and Harper Lee. Amazing writers and all considered spinsters. Elinor Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility comes to mind too. Elinor isn't actually a spinster but if events hadn't played out the way that they did in the novel, she probably would have been one. Elinor, Jane, Emily and Harper are much more acceptable images (I guess).
I would never use the word “spinster” to describe myself or anyone else I know. I’m heading to Hong Kong this weekend for a trip and because it I’ll be working while I’m there I had to apply for a visa. One of the fields on the application is marital status. The options are Married, Divorced, Bachelor and Spinster. And the field is required. In the eyes of the government of Hong Kong I’m a spinster. Awesome.
I’m not sure why the option couldn’t just be “single” or “unmarried.” Either of these seem acceptable and little nicer. I guess government forms aren’t really designed with niceness in mind.
My family and friends have enjoyed this more than they should. I’ve decided that this will be my anecdote to tell at cocktail parties and when I meet new people. It may be a bit too self-deprecating but it's still funny.
Next stop: Hong Kong! Hopefully, I'll be able to post next week from there.