American culture has long been bothered by the image of single women, the idea that women can live happily ever after without a husband or kids. In 1869, a Farmer's Almanac called them "diminished goods". A few decades later, a 1920s-era critic described singletons as "waste products of our female population and “vicious and destructive creatures". More recently, Cosmopolitan warns us that "in the United States, the 20s are the picture-perfect decade for saying I do. The farther you stray from that magic era, the more freakish you start to feel." Seems Cosmo is behind the curve - as usual - on what is a massive a social trend. According to 2009 Census Bureau Statistics, 61% of 96.6 million Americans have never been married. Just over half of those are women. In fact single women in America outnumber the entire populations of countries like Austrailia, North Korea and Taiwan.
It’s the first time in history there have ever been this many single women on the planet who are free to do exactly what they want to do - in North America at least. If like Lori Gottlieb, you believe American women are single because they’re too “picky”, think again. The increasing number of women marrying later – if at all - is part of a global trend that is demanding men and women redefine male and female roles and expectations.
The road has been bumpy one and while single men get off easy labeled “bachelors”, “player”, or “playboys”, the words used to describe a single gal’s new found freedom aren’t as flattering. Here a few:
Ladette · UK
We have Bridget Jones’ Diary to thank for making the word singleton ubiquitous but “ladette” is also used. She’s a boisterous, young singleton who is assertive or crude, drinks heavily and is promiscuous. Basically, she’s the female equivalent of the lad.
Freemales · Austrailia
According to an a article in the Sunday Herald Sun, just over half of all women under 50 have never been married, double the figure of 30 years ago. Dubbed the “freemale” in the lifestyle pages of magazines and newspapers. These women outnumber their married sisters, earn more and have actively rejected the notion that they are destined to grow up to nurture, to be wives and moms.
Gold Misses · South Korea
South Korea's “Gold Misses” can spend their money on whatever they’d like, often fashion, cosmetics, plastic surgery, travel or high priced matchmakers. Her friends, mostly married with kids, say they're jealous of her carefree, single and well-to-do life.
bai jin nu (gold-digger) & mei (beautiful) · China
Owning a bachelor pad in China is a sign that a man is successful, family-oriented and able to weather financial challenges. It’s the ultimate symbol of virility and has apparently become a prerequisite for tying the knot. Frustrated bachelors have labeled these Mei, twenty-something, college-educated single women as opportunists.
Arafo (“around 40”) & Parasite Singles · Japan
Single-person households are increased from just 600,000 in 1975 to over 4 million today, with the majority of these held by single, elderly women. Coined after a popular television drama, “Arafo” refers to professional, self-sufficient single women in their late 30s and early 40s for whom a partner of equal social standing is difficult to find.
Or perhaps she’s a parasite single, a moniker for men as well, who lives at home with her aging parents. Japan's birthrate actually fell below replacement rate nearly forty years ago and single women are held to blame since now almost 38 percent of babies are born to women in their early thirties.
And you thought old maid, spinster and cougar were bad.
Do you know any other slang to describe "single women"?