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Single Women: So What If They’re Over Fifty? January 5, 2013

Posted by Onely in As If!, STFU, Your Responses Requested!.
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flickr-3512472429-hdSo apparently now there is yet another term to describe women who behave in a certain way: Before it was Cougar, meaning an older woman who dates younger men (implication: these women must be preying on younger men, because why would the guys be attracted them of their own accord?) . Now according to this article flagged by our reader Iolanda, as well as other articles, we have SWOFTY. This means a single woman over fifty.

Copious readers, is this offensive or empowering to women, and particularly to single women? I say offensive, and here’s why:

Where is the term for single men over fifty? A Google search for SMOFTY returned the result: Did you mean SWOFTY? . . . Um, no, sigh.

And there’s more: The term SWOFTY markets itself as a badge of honor for single women, but really it objectifies and classifies women in a three-for-one deal: according to their relationship status, gender, and age. It’s the same old sexism, singlism, and ageism that has been going on in most cultures since forever, just re-labelled. Even the fact that we get surprised by the idea that single women over fifty can be vibrant and happy — so surprised that we have to give them a name — shows just how ingrained the stereotype of the drab spinster is. It’s a stereotype we need to talk in full adult words about, not cutesy acronyms that keep reminding people how the existence of happy single older women is surprising.

And no, SWOFTY does not do anything to increase the dialogue about or dismantle the spinster stereotype – at least not until single men over fifty are also deemed surprising enough to need an acronym. Until then, I say it just perpetuates the stereotype. Moreover, and worse, for a woman to “earn” the SWOFTY label, she usually has to be conventionally attractive. The actress/models Christie Brinkley and Susan Sarandon are presented in the media as stellar examples of SWOFTYs. So our three-for-one deal actually becomes a four-for-one: sexism, singlism, ageism, and looksism.

Doesn’t it seem ridiculous to come up with acronyms for the “kinds” of people listed? Yes. So that’s why, Copious Readers, I’m asking you to come up with some cutesy, demeaning terms for the below statuses:

Married woman/man who is youngish

Married woman/man who is oldish

Married man who is older than his partner

Non-married coupled person who is youngish

Non-married coupled person who is oldish

Non-married coupled man who is older than his partner

–Christina

Photo credit: Fotopedia

Comments»

1. downfromtheledge - January 6, 2013

WTF. Where do people come up with this dumb shit, and why does it need a label anyway. Sounds like some big obese amoeba character, or a teletubby. Here come the swofty’s!!!! Absolutely stupid.

2. Dandelion - January 8, 2013

As a person who just recently qualified for this title, I can say that it was there all along. I am tall, slim and fit, with luxurious hair that happens to be greying. I love to cook and eat, and think my own thoughts. I am a multifaceted human being. And I am evidently not worth dating anymore. I haven’t had a date in ….. 6 years. So, what does this term mean at all? the mindset is already in place.

3. Lola - January 9, 2013

This is terrible! I thought cougar was bad, but at least that only purportedly described (‘indicted’??) a certain type of dating-younger-men type of woman. SWOFTY is worse since it seems to cover us all. I am OVER 50 and I don’t feel any different from when I was UNDER 50. Why a new category? What’s the purpose? Just for stereotyping, which never moves in a good direction.

I agree with Dandelion: thinking your own thoughts will not get you any dates in this social climate.

4. F.Q. Ross - January 14, 2013

I’m a single man over fifty and the label we seem to merit most these days is ‘creep.’ Get called that frequently. It’s terrible when I’m with my 23-year-old daughter, who bears only a passing resemblance to me. She lives across from a wimmin’s bookstore (sic) and when we leave her building, arm in arm, we get scowled at.

Dandelion - January 14, 2013

I’m sorry. I’m not scowling at you, and I’m sorry that you get to witness that behaviour.

5. Trilby - January 15, 2013

Oldish and youngish– there was an email conversation in my family recently about a “youngish woman<' called so by my step-mom who is 70. I finally asked "How old is youngish?" My brother — a MAN! — answered "Depends– 29 for a woman, 59 for a man." ARGH!!!!!

6. labels « thebitterbabe - January 15, 2013
7. Chele - January 16, 2013

the labeling is new to me and it feels like a slap in the face! so much hate.

8. S Crow - January 16, 2013

I certainly hope things have changed since 1998, when, as a single 39-year old I purchased a home in Philadelphia, but believe it or not, in every single legal document at my closing, I was referred to as “my name, Spinster.” I thought for a moment I’d been transported back to the 1800’s!

Onely - January 18, 2013

Are you serious? 1998? Philadelphia? ???!!!!!! I really don’t have any words other than that. . . . ??!!!
CC

9. nina - January 17, 2013

Married man who is older than his partner
PRUNAY – Pitiable RUNning After Youth

Onely - January 18, 2013

HAHAA thanks Nina!

10. Damilola - January 17, 2013

More experience

11. Natalie - January 18, 2013

How crazy this all is. How pitiful. This is 2013, the 21st century, and this kind of thinking still exists. A spinster was a woman who “spun” yarn for a living; it did not necessarily mean married or single…

It is an offensive term (men thought it up, for sure) and like everything men think up about women is meant to control and humiliate.

My gorgeous younger sister remained single until age 39. She was/and is a business owner and fantastic artist. She had a child at age 40.

I have worked with more “non-mothers” than mothers. They may be married but love the freedom from a family (lets face it…families are usually miserable cauldrons of dysfunctionalism, pain, and mental illness).

I did not marry until the age of 34 and loved my life before that. I traveled across the continent, lived with Inuit tribes in the Yukon, canoed that big river…went wherever I wanted and lived to tell about it.

Think about it. All the words used to describe women are ugly, distorted, demeaning, or highly sexualized.

By the way…a “cougar” refers to an ageless beauty…an extremely attractive woman who looks years (sometimes decades) younger than her age. Lots of young men love this kind of woman and seek her out…the cougars are being chased by youthful guys! In some situations, at least…probably most from what I have read on websites. And these young men enjoy the “worldliness and sophistication” of an older women. I have read that young girls their age bore them…are too hyper-sensitive…too immature…there is too much game playing.

And a cougar loves to seduce, and be seduced by youth…and then be on her way. You know…”love ‘em and leave ‘em”).

12. andrea - January 18, 2013

No matter how emancipated we may think we are, the value of a woman in this culture is based on whether, first, she is capable and willing to breed; secondly, whether she is physically attractive; and finally, to what male she is affixed. Single, independent, childless and intelligent women have no value in our society.

Dandelion - January 18, 2013

What a sad commentary. On the other hand, the women who know how to feed and nurture themselves and others will be most valuable in time. Just wait.

13. seabeyond - June 11, 2013

about as bad as MILF. and this came from teenage boys that could be our kids age. an eyebrow went up with the thought that some punk a** teenage boy felt he had the right to pornify me, an adult, in this manner. i do not understand why some women see it as a compliment. just like with courgar.

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