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Never-married and childless women in midlife : an exploration of the issues Herringer, Barbara M. 1989

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NEVER-MARRIED and CHILDLESS WOMEN i n MIDLIFE: An Exploration of the Issues By Barbara M. Herringer B.A., University of Alberta, 1972 B.S.W, University of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1987 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIRMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF SOCIAL WORK i n THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (School of So c i a l Work) We accept t h i s t h e s i s as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA October 1989 © Barbara M. Herringer, 1989 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date Qotthrv/* mq DE-6 (2/88) ABSTRACT Before we attempt to make, or influence p o l i c y as s o c i a l workers, we have to know for whom we are making, or changing, p o l i c y . The experiences of never-married and c h i l d l e s s women i n m i d l i f e are r a r e l y recorded i n the l i t e r a t u r e . Despite feminist inroads, p o l i c y and research concerning m i d l i f e women are often based on the assumption and ideology that women i n t h i s age group are married and have children. As long as marriage and the nuclear family are seen as the only route for women, those who do not choose such a path w i l l continue to be i n v i s i b l e , or to be seen as deviant. In an attempt to begin b u i l d i n g an understanding of women who have, for various reasons, not married, an exploratory q u a l i t a t i v e study was conducted i n which twelve never-married and c h i l d l e s s women i n m i d l i f e , both lesbian and heterosexual, were interviewed using a semi-structured interview guide. Categories discussed included: family background and relat i o n s h i p s ; work, income, education, housing; sexual hi s t o r y ; r e f l e c t i o n s on aging and m i d l i f e . The goal of t h i s exploratory study i s to provide information leading toward an understanding of the population and to provide a base for further research. The study i l l u s t r a t e s the d i v e r s i t y of women even within an unrepresentative sample and points to the central importance of a sense of personal autonomy within the l i v e s of never-married m i d l i f e women. The twelve interviews support e x i s t i n g research which suggests that education and long-term employment are factors i n reducing poverty among women and presents a d i s t i l l a t i o n of a n a l y t i c a l categories into three core areas that r e f l e c t the respondent's perceptions regarding m i d l i f e and aging, work, and her never-married status. i i TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract * ...... v i Acknowledgements ' * L i s t of Tables iv L i s t of Figures • v Introduction 1 Chapter One: M i d l i f e and Aging. 6 Chapter Two: Never Married Women Then and Now 21 Chapter Three: Never-Married Women and the Labor Market..... 3 5 Chapter Four: Methodology 57 Chapter Five: Findings 72 Chapter Six: Summary and Conclusions 104 Bibliography 119 Appendices 129 i i i TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract* • x Acknowledgement s • • • • V 1 L i s t of Tables i v L i s t of Figures • • • ......v Introduction .1 Chapter One: M i d l i f e and Aging 6 Chapter Two: Never Married Women Then and Now 21 Chapter Three: Never-Married Women and the Labor Market. 35 Chapter Four: Methodology 57 Chapter Five: Findings 72 Chapter Six: Summary and Conclusions. 104 Bibliography 119 Appendices 129 i i i LIST OF TABLES Table I: Demographic Charact e r i s t i c s of Women Interviewed 75 Table I I : Demographic Charact e r i s t i c s of Women Interviewed 76 iv LIST OF FIGURES Figure I: Emerging Core Codes ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Only those who have been on the journey know what has been involved. My deepest thanks and apprection to: . Dr. Kathryn McCannell, my advisor and colleague, for your i n t e l l e c t u a l and emotional support; Dr. Glenn Drover, my committee member, for urging and demanding the best; . Barbara Isaac, for your insight, and your caring through the events surrounding t h i s research; . To the twelve women i n t h i s study who shared t h e i r l i v e s so generously. v i Introduction Women are defined or made i n v i s i b l e by our gender. U n t i l the 1920s, we were not deemed persons. We have been absent from language, subsumed under the generic "man," and u n t i l the lens of feminist analysis began to refocus the world through women's experience, were generally absent from philosophical, l e g a l , r e l i g i o u s and s o c i a l science discourse. P r a c t i t i o n e r s , researchers, t h e o r i s t s , planners and p o l i c y -makers are beginning to understand the l i v e s of women. The understanding of variables such as socio-economic status, race, e t h n i c i t y and sexual orientation i s eroding myths concerning women's roles i n society. Much work since the l a t e 19 60s has focussed on the aging processes of men and women, while the research exploring m i d l i f e women has tended to dwell on b i o l o g i c a l l y - r e l a t e d patterns such as menopause and the empty-nest syndrome (Giele, 1982; Baruch and Brooks-Gunn, 1984; Gee and Kimball, 1987). One group which seems to have received l i t t l e attention i n the research and l i t e r a t u r e however, i s never-married, c h i l d l e s s m i d l i f e women. My in t e r e s t i n research on never-married, c h i l d l e s s m i d l i f e women or, spinsters, i s personal. I t has grown out of c u r i o s i t y to understand more f u l l y the c i r c u i t o u s route my l i f e has taken away from marriage, as well as my own t r a n s i t i o n into m i d l i f e . One day when I was about four years old, my mother asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. Without h e s i t a t i o n I answered, God. Assuming the omnipotence of a supreme being appealed to me as a c h i l d ; i n some ways, i t s t i l l does. I t does not take long for a young g i r l to recognize that she i s not quite as equal as her brothers i n the eyes of her family, or i n the eyes of the world. In my l a t e teens I entered a c a t h o l i c convent 3000 miles from my home. From the perspective of an adult, the reasons for leaving my family seem uncluttered by the r e l i g i o s i t y of a "vocation." The convent was a way out, a new beginning; i t was not marriage. Although I l e f t , before vows, two years l a t e r , the experience of l i v i n g i n community with women from a l l over the country was central to me. I was treated as an adult, my tale n t s were encouraged and I was surrounded by creative, i n t e l l i g e n t women of a l l ages — a r t i s t s , scholars, musicians, cooks, s p i r i t u a l mentors. There were also aspects of the l i f e with which I was unable to cope and I asked permission to leave. What i s fascina t i n g i s , had I remained i n the convent, my l i f e s t y l e would not be much d i f f e r e n t than i t i s now. Most contemporary nuns l i v e i n communal houses away from the larger Mother House; many are involved i n s o c i a l work, academia, education, writing, and p o l i t i c s (Curb and Manahan, 1985). Not a l l spinsters are ex-nuns; regardless of that, I was interested i n the choices never-married women have made, or rather, the circumstances that have destined them to remain single, and the perceptions they have regarding those circumstances. The purpose of my research was to explore the experiences of never-married, c h i l d l e s s m i d l i f e women from a socio-economic perspective. Despite feminist inroads, p o l i c y and research concerning m i d l i f e women i s often based on the assumption that women i n t h i s age group are married and have childre n (Giele, 1982 ; King and Marvel, 1982 ; Gee and Kimball, 1987). Consequently, women i n t h i s population are burdened with various r o l e and s o c i e t a l expectations. Throughout the l i t e r a t u r e review, and during the analysis of the empirical data, the thesis began to weave i t s e l f into three areas: f i r s t of a l l , an examination of women and aging with a p a r t i c u l a r focus on never-married women i n m i d l i f e and the placement of never-married women i n an h i s t o r i c a l context. Never-married women appear i n hist o r y — V i c t o r i a n governesses for example, settlement house workers, communities of nuns, witches, women during the two world wars. The r o l e of never-married women as workers within the context of the family was c l e a r l y a major consideration. Smith (1977) notes that the s i t u a t i o n of women cannot be understood without r e l a t i n g i t to the family. S o c i o l o g i s t S.J. Wilson (1982) states that: Despite considerable change i n the structure and functioning of Canadian families, c e r t a i n i d e a s about women's d o m e s t i c i t y remain entrenched i n the public mind. These ideas have understandably been r e f l e c t e d i n the way s o c i a l s c i e n t i s t s have analyzed family l i f e . The assumption of primacy of the wife/mother ro l e f o r women has several ramifications. In the f i r s t place, those women who are not mothers or wives are lar g e l y excluded from s o c i o l o g i c a l consideration (p. 32). As long as marriage and the nuclear family are touted as the only route for women, those who do not choose such a path w i l l continue to be i n v i s i b l e or seen as deviant. Wilson makes an important point when she notes that because women are ignored i n the conceptualization of sociology (or s o c i a l work), they w i l l necessarily be overlooked i n empirical studies. " I f women are not important t h e o r e t i c a l l y , they w i l l not be studied" (p. 7) . The perceptions that the contemporary never-married women i n t h i s study had regarding t h e i r family and s o c i a l networks, t h e i r work and private l i v e s , and themselves as single women i n an overwhelmingly coupled society, i l l u s t r a t e that there are diverse paths for women. As the interviews for the study progressed along-side an examination of the l i t e r a t u r e , i t became cl e a r that a t h i r d p i v o t a l area, labor force p a r t i c i p a t i o n and the interweaving importance of education and finances, were major considerations to the respondents as well as to researchers. For t h i s reason, a chapter on Never Married Women and the Labor Market was included. The primary purpose of t h i s study then, was f i r s t of a l l , through a thorough review of the l i t e r a t u r e to l i n k assumptions made about women i n m i d l i f e with an exploration of themes emanating from interviews with a sample of never-married m i d l i f e women. As the l i t e r a t u r e indicates, older women s i g n i f i c a n t l y outnumber older men i n North America. Of those older women, the majority are unattached and poor. While the focus of the research was an exploration of the l i v e s of never-married m i d l i f e women i n order to combat assumptions about who they are i n m i d l i f e , a further question the study sought to answer was, would never-married m i d l i f e women be better prepared for t h e i r old age? A f i n a l goal was to outline implications f o r s o c i a l work p o l i c y and pra c t i c e . The f i r s t three chapters then, w i l l examine m i d l i f e and aging, view the status of never-married women h i s t o r i c a l l y and i n contemporary society, and focus on never-married women and the labor force. The f i n a l chapters w i l l discuss the empirical research i t s e l f , and i t s r e l a t i o n s h i p to the l i t e r a t u r e . As the Canadian Government Report on Aging (1982) states, "The development of good p o l i c i e s and programs r e f l e c t s upon good research. This i n turn i s dependent upon a r e l i a b l e data base" (p.150) . 6 CHAPTER ONE: M i d l i f e and Aging Reviewing the l i t e r a t u r e regarding never-married women was (and continues to be) at once disappointing and ex c i t i n g ; for while i l l u s t r a t i n g that research and l i t e r a t u r e on never-married and c h i l d l e s s m i d l i f e women was generally l i m i t e d , i t meant that p o s s i b i l i t i e s for study and research were l i m i t l e s s . I t i s also frightening. One has to ask why such gaps e x i s t i n research and l i t e r a t u r e , why cer t a i n groups i n society continue to be discounted, or made i n v i s i b l e ; why only p a r t i c u l a r theories are explored from p a r t i c u l a r perspectives; why only c e r t a i n voices are heard over and over again. This chapter w i l l review the l i t e r a t u r e regarding m i d l i f e and aging women, and how these categories r e l a t e to never-married women. The chronological touchstone for the t r a n s i t i o n into m i d l i f e varies i n the l i t e r a t u r e . Maas (1985) remarks that "midlife i s marked by greater d i v e r s i t y among people i n t h e i r patterns of l i v i n g and development than at any e a r l i e r time of l i f e " (p. 217). Brooks-Gunn and Kirsh (1984) are somewhat more subdued as they discuss s p e c i f i c a l l y m i d l i f e women: Not only i s m i d l i f e an ambiguous phase, as i l l u s t r a t e d by the f l u i d i t y of i t s upper boundary, the lack of consensus on the timing of c e r t a i n l i f e events, the m u l t i p l i c i t y of markers used to define m i d l i f e experience, and the lack of any conceptual framework embedding m i d l i f e i n the l i f e cycle, but ind i v i d u a l s f e e l ambivalent about i t as well. To become an adult i s often seen as the equivalent to the end of exploration and growth (p.21). Some say the middle years s t r e t c h from 35 t o 55 o r from 40 t o 60. S t a t i s t i c s Canada d e f i n e s adulthood from 15 through 64. However, f o r most women i n t h i s c u r r e n t study, age 40 seemed t o be an agreed upon c r i t i c a l t u r n i n g p o i n t from youth t o aging. One o n l y needs t o wander through c a r d and g i f t shops t o r e a l i z e t h a t t h i s m i l e s t o n e , 40, i s not seen as the c o n t i n u a t i o n of e x p l o r a t i o n and growth i n t o adulthood, but i s r a t h e r , t he focus of r i d i c u l e and p i t y . Women moving i n t o m i d l i f e f a c e what Susan Sontag (1972) c a l l s the double standa r d o f aging. She d e s c r i b e s aging as being a s o c i a l judgment r a t h e r than a b i o l o g i c a l e v e n t u a l i t y . Age i s something d i f f u s e d over a woman's l i f e t i m e ; something she begins t o f e a r i n e a r l y youth. Women are "haunted by age" i n a way men are not. They are s e x u a l l y d i s q u a l i f i e d e a r l i e r i n l i f e , whereas a man's age i s enhanced by the power he may h o l d i n s o c i e t y . Brooks-Gunn and K i r s h (1984) c i t e s e v e r a l m i d l i f e markers. One o f the most obvious i s c h r o n o l o g i c a l age which r e p r e s e n t s the p h y s i c a l , p s y c h o l o g i c a l and s o c i o c u l t u r a l i n d i c e s o f change. They acknowledge t h a t c u l t u r a l d i f f e r e n c e s such as poverty, make t h i s marker v e r y p r o b l e m a t i c f o r many women. Other markers such as parenthood, o r r e t u r n t o the work f o r c e , a re not u s e f u l f o r a l l women. Hormonal changes and r e l a t i o n s h i p demands do however, a f f e c t most women i n m i d l i f e . C u l t u r a l a t t i t u d e s toward o l d e r women are g e n e r a l l y n e g a t i v e . W i l l i a m s (1979) notes t h a t t h e r e are d e f i n i t e d i f f e r e n c e s i n the m i d l i f e e x p e r i e n c e s o f women and men. Women are d e s c r i b e d t h r o u g h t h e m o t i f o f l o s s — l o s s o f y o u t h f u l b e a u t y , v i g o r , c h i l d r e n , r e p r o d u c t i v e c a p a c i t y and o f t e n , l o s s o f j o b o r s p o u s e . C e r t a i n l y women s o c i a l i z e d t o b u i l d l i v e s a s e x c l u s i v e l y w i v e s a n d / o r m o t h e r s , a r e u n p r e p a r e d f o r t h e r o l e s o f widow, d i v o r c e e o r w a g e - e a r n e r . C o n s e q u e n t l y , d e p r e s s i o n i s p r e v a l e n t among t h i s p o p u l a t i o n o f m i d d l e - a g e d women. F o r d and S i n c l a i r (1987) a f t e r i n t e r v i e w i n g e l d e r l y B r i t i s h women w r i t e t h a t : The w e s t e r n s t e r e o t y p e s o f a g i n g and t h e o l d a r e p r e j u d i c i a l a n d d i s c r i m i n a t o r y . . .The d a n g e r o f s u c h s t e r e o t y p i n g , a s w i t h a l l l a b e l s , i s t h a t t h e e l d e r l y , p e r c e i v i n g t h a t s o c i e t y h a s l i t t l e r e g a r d f o r them, t h u s come t o h a v e l i t t l e r e g a r d f o r t h e m s e l v e s ( p . 2 ) . O l d e r women a r e n o t an homogeneous g r o u p w i t h common h i s t o r i e s , c i r c u m s t a n c e s and n e e d s ( K i n g and M a r v e l , 198 3 ) . The t w e l v e n e v e r - m a r r i e d women i n t h i s p r e s e n t s t u d y i l l u s t r a t e t h a t s i g n i f i c a n t d i f f e r e n c e s e x i s t among c o h o r t s . Women b o r n between 1932 a n d 1939 f o r example, e x p e r i e n c e d a more v a r y i n g p o l i t i c a l a nd s o c i a l m i l i e u t h a n d i d t h o s e b o r n d u r i n g W o r l d War I I o r , p o s t - w a r on t h e c u t t i n g edge o f t h e b a b y boom. The common, s h a r e d e x p e r i e n c e o f most women i n t h e i r l a t e f o r t i e s and e a r l y f i f t i e s h a s b e e n t h a t o f homemaker. T h a t t r e n d i s c h a n g i n g s i g n i f i c a n t l y however; y o u n g women a r e m a r r y i n g l a t e r o r n o t a t a l l , b e a r i n g f e w e r c h i l d r e n a n d c o m b i n i n g home, e d u c a t i o n a n d c a r e e r w i t h v a r y i n g d e g r e e s o f s u c c e s s . F o r t h e i r m o t h e r s an d g r a n d m o t h e r s , e x c l u s i v e commitment t o t r a d i t i o n a l r o l e s was n o t c o n s c i o u s l y made a f t e r c a r e f u l c o n s i d e r a t i o n o f v a r i e d o p t i o n s ; i t was t h e e x p e c t e d c h o i c e o f r e s p o n s i b l e a d u l t women of t h e i r generation (King and Marvel, 1982). Many of these women could r e a l i s t i c a l l y expect to be divorced or separated before they reached old age, and to experience other t r a n s i t i o n s such as t h e i r children leaving home, aging parents, and menopause. Many of the t r a n s i t i o n s faced by never-married women are s i m i l a r . One of the most c r u c i a l , i s that of retirement or loss of work and hence, for many, the f e e l i n g of the loss of f i n a n c i a l independence. M i d l i f e single women are not only heterosexual. In t h e i r unpublished exploratory study of lesbians and aging, A s h f i e l d and Shamai (1987) note that the research that does exi s t regarding older homosexuals, i s concerned p r i m a r i l y with gay males. T h e i r study i n d i c a t e d t h a t while i s o l a t i o n and stigmatization were perceived as a re a l p o s s i b l i t i l y , aging was perceived to be less s t r e s s f u l than among heterosexual women and was att r i b u t e d to lesbians* general r e j e c t i o n of the feminine stereotype. Kehoe, i n her recent (1988) exploratory study of lesbians over s i x t y , states that "most manuals, which purport to be guides f o r women to age g r a c e f u l l y , never mention rel a t i o n s h i p s with other women (sexual or otherwise)... and yet f o r many women. .. l e s b i a n i s m i s not p r i m a r i l y a sexual r e l a t i o n s h i p at a l l , but a much wider female interdependence with broader human s a t i s f a c t i o n s that transcend mere physical attachment" (p. 1). M i d l i f e women, regardless of marital status or sexual orientation, are challenged to redefine our l i v e s and goals. Many of us return to school, change careers, decide to have children, or come to terms with childlessness. Some of us become caregivers to aging parents or r e l a t i v e s or face the deaths of our parents, s i b l i n g s and friends. In the early l i t e r a t u r e , adulthood was seen as a s t a t i c and undifferentiated span between l a t e adolescence and old age. The major contemporary developmental t h e o r i e s of E r i k s o n , Havighurst, Levinson and Kohlberg (Huyck and Hoyer, 1982) assume that men and women experience l i f e stages and developmental tasks i n a s i m i l a r way. Their research presumes that male experience speaks for both sexes, and that any deviation from the standard, or male norm, presupposes a lack i n women. Current psychological research, although i t acknowledges development as a continuous and dynamic process throughout l i f e , has tended to envelop women within the same d e f i n i t i o n s as men. Scholars such as Chodorow (1978), G i l l i g a n (1982) and Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger and Tarule (1986) are challenging those t h e o r i e s that tend to disregard the impact of sex-role differences i n human behavior. Giele (1982) p o s i t s a l i f e - s p a n perspective. Rather than using discrete and i s o l a t e d events to characterize a person i n a p a r t i c u l a r period of l i f e , for example, empty-nest syndrome or menopause, t h i s theory allows for the overlap and consideration of environmental influences, s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s , and b i o l o g i c a l functioning. Lachman (1984) also adheres to t h i s approach and c i t e s the goals of li f e - s p a n research as the examination of the nature and course of development, as well as the search for antecedents and consequences of developmental change. She notes that a basic assumption of a l i f e - s p a n view i s that development occurs through l i f e . S o c i o l o g i c a l research regarding aging has two major f o c i ; micro and macro-level concerns (Gee and Kimball, 1987). The micro-level focusses on the i n d i v i d u a l and the individual's s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s ; while the macro-level deals with the s t r u c t u r a l components of society and t h e i r i n t e r r e l a t i o n s h i p s . Gee and Kimball s t a t e t h a t two competing t h e o r e t i c a l perspectives — the normative and the i n t e r p r e t i v e — address both micro and macro issues. A normative perspective of aging, characterized for example, by what i s known as s t r u c t u r a l -functional ism, would focus on themes of s o c i a l order and the mechanisms of s o c i a l control. That i s , i n d i v i d u a l s , whose behavior i s regulated by various s o c i e t a l rules, cooperate to create s o c i a l order or equilibrium within society. With regard to aging, theories based on t h i s assumption would, according to Gee and Kimball, "view the loss of roles i n l a t e r l i f e ( p a r t i c u l a r l y the work role) as important for the maintenance of the equilibrium of the wider society" (p. 6) . The i n t e r p r e t i v e perspective, on the other hand, concerns i t s e l f with a more p o l i t i c a l focus i n which c o n f l i c t i s the major assumption. " I t focusses upon such issues as the causes of poverty among the e l d e r l y p o p u l a t i o n , the r o l e of values (ideology) i n l e g i t i m i z i n g age-related poverty, and the r o l e of pension funds as a source of c a p i t a l (power) f o r governments, and corporations" (p. 7). Gee and Kimball present a current synthesis of the s o c i o l o g i c a l and psychological Canadian research on women and aging. Further, the authors c r i t i c a l l y evaluate the research l i t e r a t u r e on t h e o r e t i c a l and/or methodological grounds and seek to i d e n t i f y gaps and suggest d i r e c t i o n s for further research. They acknowledge the complexity of aging, but note the degree to which i t i s t i e d to women's issues. "At the l e v e l of the in d i v i d u a l , women are more l i k e l y than men to reach o l d age, p a r t i c u l a r l y extreme old age. At the s o c i e t a l l e v e l , the aged population i s increasingly composed of women and w i l l become even more so i n future years" (p. ix) . Gee and Kimball, a s o c i o l o g i s t and psychologist respectively, state that: I t i s i m p o r t a n t t o r e a l i z e t h a t the perspective or perspectives we use to examine women and aging are important not only for theory development and the int e r p r e t a t i o n of data, but also i n the formation of p o l i t i c a l views and s o c i a l p o l i c y (p.7). Other scholars are taking a c r i t i c a l look at aging through an analysis of what they term the p o l i t i c a l economy of aging (Minkler and Estes, 1984). This perspective r e j e c t s the notion that aging or any other s o c i a l problem, "can be viewed and understood i n i s o l a t i o n from the larger p o l i t i c a l , s o c i a l , and economic issues..."(p.10), and views age, gender and class as neglected variables within much of the gerontological research. Wigdor and Foot (1989) write that Canada w i l l have to implement plans now, regarding i t s aging population. They argue that issues demanding immediate attention r e l a t e to the labor market, pension and income maintenance, education, health care, housing and s o c i a l services. While each of these perspectives can be applied to the study of both men and women within the context of aging, i t i s the feminist perspective, against the background of the p o l i t i c a l economy of aging, that informs t h i s research on never-married, c h i l d l e s s m i d l i f e women. Feminist research emphasizes the subjective experiences of women. With regard to subjective experiences of aging, Garner and Mercer (1989) remark that the unique s i t u a t i o n of older women i s not j u s t the r e s u l t of growing older. " I t i s the r e s u l t of invasive and h i s t o r i c a l socioeconomic and gender s t r a t i f i c a t i o n i n s o c i e t i e s " (p.7). Gee and Kimball, i n t h e i r discussion on feminism and aging, note: A feminist perspective begins with the idea that the status and po s i t i o n of older women i s not universal, but varies with the wider s o c i a l , economic, and c u l t u r a l context (p.10). Gender and Aging Gerontology i s the study of aging, and according to Novak (1988), i t has two goals. Scholars and researchers work to produce accurate knowledge about aging which i s then applied by professionals i n t h e i r relationships with c l i e n t s . Research, he says, can help governments, s o c i a l services agencies and professionals, to plan better programs for the el d e r l y . In addition, argues Novak, "gerontology i n Canada has grown quickly i n the l a s t few years, but more research on aging needs to be done" (p. 15). While Novak points out that gerontological research w i l l shape p o l i c y and begin to change people's attitudes toward aging, h i s work makes few references to women and aging, or to unattached aging women. Census data ( S t a t i s t i c s Canada, 1986) indicate that there are close to 13 m i l l i o n women i n Canada. Of these, more than 2.5 m i l l i o n are between the ages of 40 and 59. Almost one-quarter m i l l i o n i n that age group are single, widowed or divorced. The number of never-married women between the ages of 40 and 59 i n Canada i s ju s t short of 162 thousand (161,940). Of the more than 300 thousand women between 40 and 59 i n B r i t i s h Columbia, s l i g h t l y more than 13 thousand are never-married. (No projections into the year 2 000 were a v a i l a b l e ) . Reinharz (198 6) notes that what feminism and gerontology have i n common i s an attempt to create s o c i a l consciousness, s o c i a l theory and s o c i a l p o l i c y which w i l l improve the l i f e chances of a s p e c i f i c group. Feminist t h e o r i s t s have long recognized that women represent a highly d i v e r s i f i e d group with cross-cutting allegiances to work, family, race, cl a s s , r e l i g i o n , ethnic group, age group and more. As Zones, Estes and Binney (1987) note, the current process of population aging i n the United States (and Canada) i s h i s t o r i c a l l y unique and has important q u a l i t a t i v e (as d i s t i n c t from quantitative) features that w i l l be important i n developing p o l i c y . 15 So c i a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s i n old age are a product of s o c i a l experience throughout l i f e . T hat c u m u l a t i v e s e t of c i r c u m s t a n c e s determines not only the l i k e l i h o o d of surviving to very old age, but the qua l i t y of l i f e once those years are reached. The s i t u a t i o n of very old women now and i n the future i s , and w i l l be, shaped by l i f e chances and opportunities that have been conditioned by t h e i r gender, s o c i o - e c o n o m i c and ra c i a l / e t h n i c status over t h e i r e n t i r e l i f e course. The explanation of t h e i r predicament l i e s i n s o c i e t a l expectations and roles i n the home and family, t h e i r l ocation i n the labour market, and t h e i r treatment through public p o l i c i e s , a l l of which must be examined i n a s o c i o - h i s t o r i c a l context... Social p o l i c y f or the aging i n general r e f l e c t s the major s t r u c t u r a l d i v i s i o n s i n society — that i s , i n p r e s e r v i n g i n o l d age t h o s e s o c i a l arrangements and inequities that are formed p r i o r to old age. These conditions and the added impact of very old age and one's fate (or fortunes) with regard to health, s u r v i v a l and s o c i a l s u p p o r t i n the aggregate, constitute the challenge for s o c i a l p o l i c y (p.282). One of the major s o c i a l indicators discussed i n t h e i r work i s income; and c e r t a i n l y , work and income was a primary theme d i s c u s s e d by never-married m i d l i f e women i n the twelve interviews undertaken for t h i s research. Markson (1983) comments that " c r o s s - c u l t u r a l studies have indicated that except through witchcraft, older women seldom held formal power or prestige i n pr e - i n d u s t r i a l s o c i e t i e s because they had l i t t l e or no actual power over goods and resources" (p. 2). Today as well, women's economic status i s of c r u c i a l importance (Gee and Kimball, 1987; King and Marvel, 1982; Simon, 1988; Warlick, 1983; Zones et a l , 1987) since poverty i s by fa r the most c r i t i c a l problem facing 16 older women. For divorced, separated or widowed older women, the cumulative e f f e c t s of wage d i s c r i m i n a t i o n , occupational segregation, unpaid labor i n the home, and interrupted workforce p a r t i c i p a t i o n , coupled with t h e i r survivorship, place these women i n a precarious p o s i t i o n throughout old age (Zones et a l , 1987). Long and Porter (1984), i n discussing the economic future of m i d l i f e women, agree: M i d l i f e women are a heterogeneous group, e x h i b i t i n g v a r y i n g degrees of economic v i a b i l i t y and v u l n e r a b i l i t y . Although they r e p r e s e n t a wide range i n e d u c a t i o n a l a t t a i n m e n t , l a b o r f o r c e e x p e r i e n c e , occupational prestige, marital and family status, and health, they share the need to achieve economic security. For most women, economic security i n the l a t t e r h a l f of the l i f e - s p a n i s o f t e n u n c e r t a i n . . . A sound economic future can be obtained through a well-paying job with ample benefits and a pension plan (p. 150) . Notwithstanding the numbers of unattached female e l d e r l y l i v i n g below the poverty l i n e , Russell (1987) states that most discussions of aging tend to adopt a genderless view of the process, and that disadvantages associated with aging appear to be disproportionately the problems of women. I t i s i r o n i c then, that despite the growth of research being undertaken i n the area of women and aging, and women i n mi d l i f e , there appears to be scant l i t e r a t u r e s p e c i f i c to women termed never-married (or ever-single) and c h i l d l e s s . Indeed, a review of women's studies journals, p o l i c y journals, s o c i a l work and sociology journals, reveal dearth of research concerning t h i s group. Professionals, I"7 i n c l u d i n g s o c i a l workers i n practice, administrative and academic positions, may be unaware of t h e i r biases toward women which render intervention at micro and macro l e v e l s i n e f f e c t i v e . G i t t i n s (1985) states that i t i s : ...important to consider how ce r t a i n ideals and ideologies can be, and have been, imposed on people through the exercise of, among other things, r e l i g i o n , education, p o l i t i c a l power and s o c i a l p o l i c y . Ideologies are not j u s t something ' i n the a i r 1 , but can influence and determine the ways i n which laws are formulated and i n turn implemented (p. 3). In addition to the fact that professional stereotyping of female c l i e n t s has damaging repercussions, i s the s t a r t l i n g Canadian s t a t i s t i c that indicates that 31 percent of women over the age of 65 l i v e below the poverty l i n e . According to the National Council of Welfare (1984), women account f o r 33.1 per of low-income unattached e l d e r l y and "at l a s t count there were approximately 337,000 unattached women over 65 and below the poverty l i n e — four times the 85,000 poor unattached aged men" (p. 64). The implications of these s t a t i s t i c s are enormous and r e f l e c t the ongoing subordination of women through ageism and sexism at every l e v e l of society. As mentioned e a r l i e r , t h i s current study was curious to discover i f never-married, c h i l d l e s s m i d l i f e women were aware of t h i s possible future. Roebuck (1983) argues that i t i s ess e n t i a l that a l l aspects of female aging be studied more c l o s e l y . She writes: 18 . . . i f a v a l i d theory of aging i s to be developed we must have more studies of how women age and of t h e i r experiences with old age, and these studies must be freed from t r a d i t i o n a l assumptions and equations about female and male experiences. Such studies need to recognize, for example, that twentieth-c e n t u r y changes i n marriage, d i v o r c e , childbearing and ch i l d r e a r i n g patterns have modified t h i s even more. In addition, i t must be recognized that by no means a l l women go through even a modified family cycle (p. 2 61). Poli c y toward the elder l y , p a r t i c u l a r l y e l d e r l y women, i s seen as a process of s o c i a l construction linked to broad h i s t o r i c a l and contemporary s o c i a l s t r u c t u r a l issues (Zones, Estes and Binney, 1987). More older women l i v e alone now as evidenced i n t h i s study as well. The trend w i l l no doubt continue and raise new p o l i c y issues such as the probable need for formal s o c i a l supports for some e l d e r l y . Long and Porter (1984) argue that p o l i c y needs to respond to diverse needs of subpopulations and that an overemphasis on a woman's family roles has led to the characterization of m i d l i f e as a time of loss and diminishment for her. Too l i t t l e research has been undertaken on women and employment, or the questions of how women's roles a f f e c t t h e i r economic v i a b i l i t y at m i d l i f e and old age. Long and Porter note that occupational and marital careers are determinants of women's economic s i t u a t i o n : Many women now i n m i d l i f e w i l l face poverty i n old age, given t h e i r current employment and m a r i t a l h i s t o r y and the e x i s t i n g p ublic programs available to them (p. 110). I n t e r e s t i n g l y however, they write that a woman who chooses to work, to the exclusion of family rol e s , i s s t i l l treated as a "denatured female." This notion of deviancy was f e l t by some women i n the study, but did not appear to be linked to the fact that they worked, as much as to t h e i r never-married status. In an international overview of women and aging, Garner and Mercer (1989) note that "trends i n marital status...are i n t e g r a l components i n the analysis of older women because the rol e of family i s intimately linked to her s o c i a l , economic and emotional well-being" (p. 19) . They state that current trends, including an increase i n the number of unmarried persons who l i v e together, delay i n f i r s t marriages and childbearing, more childlessness, greater work force p a r t i c i p a t i o n by women, and a somewhat greater tolerance of sexual expression and l i f e s t y l e s such as homosexuality, may signal changes i n the l i v e s of future older women. What these and other researchers are concluding i s that while old women today are more l i k e l y to l i v e longer, to be poor and alone, to be less well educated and at r i s k of serious health problems, future cohorts may: ...be better educated, more l i k e l y to have worked outside the home, more l i k e l y to have managed t h e i r own finances, and to have in t e r e s t s outside the home. Hopefully women of a l l ages w i l l continue to learn how to be better friends and to engage i n even more e f f e c t i v e networking. These changes ought to tra n s l a t e to more independence, more control over one's l i f e , and a greater sense of s e l f . W i l l t h i s occur? (Garner and Mercer, 1989, p. 43) . 20 This current study begins to answer questions regarding the perceptions of the future of never-married heterosexual and lesbian women who are now i n m i d l i f e . An overview of recent h i s t o r y presented i n the following chapter, provides a context i n which to understand women who, for whatever reason, have chosen to remain outside the mainstream. 21 CHAPTER TWO: Never-Married Women Then and Now In women's t r a n s i t i o n from subject to sovereign, there must needs be an era of self-sustained, self-appointed homes, where her freedom and equality s h a l l be unquestioned. Susan B. Anthony . . . l i b e r t y i s a better husband than love to many of us. Louisa May A l c o t t I believe we are touching on better days, when women w i l l have a genuine, normal l i f e of t h e i r own to lead...and w i l l be taught not to f e e l t h e i r destiny manque i f they remain si n g l e . Geraldine Jewsbury How are spinsters defined? Various sources state that a woman s t i l l unmarried over 35 i s a spinster, while other his t o r i a n s define her as someone over the age of 50 who died c e l i b a t e (Hufton, 1984). The etymology of spinster i s derived from the occupation of "spinner", or one who spins. The Oxford English d i c t i o n a r y notes that the word spinster was not used to denote marital status u n t i l the second decade of the seventeenth c e n t u r y . H u f t o n mentions t h a t i n " p a r l a n c e and i n li t e r a t u r e . . . t h e word came to connote an ageing woman and implied c e r t a i n pejorative a t t r i b u t e s — such as narrowness of s p i r i t and a tendency to gossip over teacups". She c i t e s the growing numbers of upper-class spinsters i n the eighteenth century, for the negativity expressed toward t h i s group. 21 However, she says: ...when we consider the degree to which these women had to c o n s t r u c t l i f e s t y l e s f o r themselves and were o f t e n pushed i n t o circumstances hardly consonant with t h e i r b i r t h and when we note the struggles of working class women who had to f i n d some means of support i n a h o s t i l e world, then we should be considering how one changes the meaning of language. In my view at least, the d e f i n i t i o n of the word spinster should include some heroic a t t r i b u t e s to convey the sense of someone who struggled against odds, and s o c i a l disapprobation and yet survived and i n some cases made the s u r v i v a l of subsequent generations easier (p. 374). Then, as i s often the case today, the notion of independent women seems d i f f i c u l t f or society to comprehend. Nuns are s t i l l r e ferred to as "brides of Christ"; healers/witches could not be allowed t h e i r own power without being said to be i n league with the d e v i l ; formerly the notion of passionate female friendships was not questioned because i t was not believed that women were sexual beings (Faderman, 1981). Today, women without men are p i t i e d ; often they are c a l l e d lesbians, regardless of t h e i r sexual o r i e n t a t i o n . The reasons women do not marry are complex (Raymond, 1986; Vicinus, 1985; Chambers-Schiller, 1984; Hufton, 1984). Authors d e s c r i b i n g spinsterhood i n the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries c i t e several s o c i a l and c u l t u r a l factors: the r a t i o of men to women varies during some periods; the economy; the costs of supporting a family. Women i n the V i c t o r i a n texts voiced t h e i r own reasons, such as the need to caretake families or the 22 f e l t o b l i g a t i o n to contribute to the family economy. Others saw themselves as unmarriageable, while some women expressed fear of sexual intimacy and/or pregnancy and c h i l d b i r t h . Chambers-Schiller, whose work i s based on the writings of postrevolutionary northeastern American women, i s interested i n the "modern" reasons women rejected marriage. Many middle and upper cl a s s women wanted a greater i n t e l l e c t u a l l i f e and rejected the idea of marrying men they considered t h e i r i n f e r i o r s ; others s i m i l a r l y decided that marriage would c o n f l i c t with t h e i r self-development and autonomy; while others f e l t that t h e i r chosen vocations (writing, teaching, nursing) would be thwarted by marriage and motherhood. She quotes from an 1852 publ i c a t i o n c a l l e d The Young Lady's Counsellor: "A single l i f e i s not without i t s advantages while a married one which f a i l s . . . i s the acme of earthly wretchedness." V i c t o r i a n scholars, both s o c i a l h i s t o r i a n s and demographers, seem unanimous i n t h e i r conclusion that the number of spinsters i s not important; for while they were a persistent minority, what seems to be important i s the impact they had s o c i e t a l l y , p a r t i c u l a r l y during the upheaval of Western philosophy and th o u g h t . H i s t o r i c a l l y , the l i b e r a l ideas of freedom, i n d i v i d u a l i s m , independence and e q u a l i t y of opportunity developed with the bourgeois revolutions i n Europe. L i b e r a l ideology i s b u i l t on the notion that human beings have a capacity to reason and, as a re s u l t , have moral worth and p o l i t i c a l r i g h t s . Liberalism i s contradictory concerning women of c o u r s e , s i n c e w h i l e t h e o r e t i c a l l y i t recognizes individualism, there i s no room for women's individualism or l i b e r t y . C i t i z e n r i g h t s were for men. The underpinning of l i b e r a l thought i s p a t r i a r c h a l , not democratic. A patriarch, according to the Oxford Dictionary, means "father or r u l e r of a family or t r i b e . " Liberalism did not transform the notion of separate public and private spheres i n which women tend the hearth and men attend s o c i e t y ; consequently, i t was cl e a r to women of the time, that l i b e r a l thought was intended for men only. Early l i b e r a l feminists such as Mary Wollstonecroft, recognized that women were excluded from c i t i z e n r i g h t s because of t h e i r sexual c l a s s . Spinsters have always challenged p a t r i a r c h a l society. G i t t i n s (1985) i n writing about the advent of Protestantism, says that spinsters, widows and abandoned wives formed a substantial minority of the female population. She writes that "being •outside marriage 1, and thus outside p a t r i a r c h a l control and authority, made such women threatening...economically, s o c i a l l y and sexually" (p. 41). Raymond concurs: "Women who were not married were abused and feared i n an emerging s o c i a l climate that placed marriage and motherhood at the top of the moral ladder to God" (p. 104) . I t i s i r o n i c that convents, formerly places of power and i n t e l l e c t u a l and s p i r i t u a l stimulation, were disbanded and the nuns k i l l e d or sent out into the world unprotected (Raymond, 1986) while at the same time, innumerable women were persecuted and executed as witches. 24 Freeman and Klaus (1984) i n t h e i r a r t i c l e on the "new spinster" of the nineteenth century, also say she was perceived as a threat to men and the family. Spinsterhood was connected to the increasing disfavor with which marriage was being seen because of economic dependence and a woman's narrow sphere of home and family. I t was "...a form of revolt, a conscious choice to remain single, to work toward equality, and to re j e c t the demands, r e s t r i c t i o n s and i n e q u a l i t i e s of middle-class marriage" (p. 395). Like the modern American spinster, her B r i t i s h counterpart began to see marriage as an option rather than as a necessity... "I've chosen my l i f e as d e l i b e r a t e l y as my s i s t e r s and brothers have chosen t h e i r s . . . I want to be a spinster and I want to be a good one" (p. 396) . In her fascinating text e n t i t l e d Antifeminism i n American  Thought: An Annotated Bibliography, Cynthia Kinnard (1986) presents summaries pamphlets, books, magazine and p e r i o d i c a l a r t i c l e s from the l a t e 17 00s to the 1900s, that provide an important glimpse of the debate surrounding such issues as women's r i g h t s , family, work, women's bodies, feminism and so on. For example, i n a 1913 publication c a l l e d Outlook. Ethel W. Cartland deplores ...the r e f u s a l of women to have childre n or the tendency to have only one or two. I n t e l l e c t u a l and a r t i s t i c women are singled out f o r censure, as i s the educated woman, because 'with education for women has come also the knowledge of how she may remain c h i l d l e s s ' ( p . 221). 25 Harper 1s Weekly i n 1915, quotes a Dr. R.C. Brannon as saying that preventing large families has caused "an increase i n insanity, tuberculosis, Bright*s disease, diabetes and cancer" (p. 222) . As summarized by Kinnard, an a r t i c l e e n t i t l e d "The Redundancy of Spinster Gentlewomen" published i n Liv i n g Age i n 1900 says: ...that because there i s a redundancy of women and a decline of marriage, young women are brought into increased competition for men. Those who f a i l a f f e c t an a i r of independence and indifference to the male sex and become exaggeratedly a t h l e t i c . Blames... 1an unnatural preponderance of the sheer masculine i n her blood.* This ' s i l l y a s similation of male manners and male sports * i s more pronounced among les s a t t r a c t i v e women and leads to •hardening and roughening the feminine exterior...a s t r i d e n t voice, a s e l f - a s s e r t i v e manner, a brusque and abrupt address of m a l e k i n d , and a g e n e r a l l a p s e o f attractiveness' (p. 3 07). Kinnard notes that advances proposed by the feminists i n areas of education, suffrage, dress reform, and economic reform were "opposed, blocked, attacked, and r i d i c u l e d . " In reviewing history, the irony i s that l i t t l e substantive change has occurred i n attitudes toward independent women as we approach the 1990s. As i t was two hundred years ago, the fact that women should have righ t s beyond the bounds of the pa t r i a r c h a l family, appears to upset proponents of the new rig h t . Neoconservative attitudes and p o l i c i e s , exemplified i n the abortion and pro-family debates i n the United States and Canada, continue to oppose equal r i g h t s f o r women. In the mid-26 t o - l a t e 1800s, a debate about women's work raged as i t does now i n the camps of the new r i g h t . According to some hi s t o r i a n s (Helsinger, Sheets and Veeder, 1983) one event raised the "Woman Question" as no other — the Ind u s t r i a l Revolution. In c o n f l i c t were forces that drove needy women from home to factory, while at the same time making women at home and i n the family the sole preservers of human values which found no place i n the modern world. Keeping c e r t a i n women i n the home (middle and upper classes) reinforced low wages and the low status of women's work. The modern world, say Helsinger et a l . "required apparently i r r e c o n c i l a b l e s o c i a l roles f or women: t h e i r work outside the home and t h e i r presence i n i t " (p. 109). Society was hotly divided over whether women's place was i n the home or the work force. Should factory women, poor spinsters and p r o s t i t u t e s be restored to family l i f e , or could a better place be made for them i n the work force? Interestingly, Helsinger et a l . state that disproportionate attention was paid to the problems of single, unsupported middle-class women and that t h i s attention may have been a deliberate decision by feminists of the period, to avoid the threat to home and family perceived i n the employment of married women. Although perhaps refined somewhat, i t i s i r o n i c to witness t h i s c o n f l i c t being played out today; for while proponents of the new r i g h t (a c o a l i t i o n of r e l i g i o u s , economic and p o l i t i c a l men and women) want to dismantle the welfare state and return women to the home, the c a p i t a l i s t state needs women workers for i t s low-27 paying service jobs. Once women are joined together i n the public sphere, they begin to demand an equality that does not ex i s t i n the privacy of the pa t r i a r c h a l household. Freeman and Klaus (1984) remark that new employment opportunities for middle-class women r a d i c a l l y altered the l i v e s of l a t e nineteenth century spinsters. Those who had some education moved from being governesses to such occupations as educators, nurses, or settlement house workers. The authors suggest that since studies show that the s a l a r i e s of working women were very low, i t may have been the independent l i f e s t y l e that was r e l i s h e d by spinsters. In her a r t i c l e , Hufton notes that demographers studying the Vi c t o r i a n period tend not to be class s p e c i f i c , and that " d e f i n i t i v e " spinsterhood i s viewed as an a t t r i b u t e dependent upon economic factors" (p.358). Consistent with other authors, she notes that female wages were not calculated to allow independent l i v i n g . In the course of my reading I was struck by the profound s i m i l a r i t i e s between housing problems for V i c t o r i a n and contemporary s p i n s t e r s . Hufton describes what she c a l l s "spinster c l u s t e r i n g , " or the "grouping together of women to rent some kind of accommodation where they could share costs of heating and l i g h t i n g and the time spent at market, i n food preparation, fetching wood and water, or picking up and de l i v e r i n g work" (p. 361). She d e t a i l s s i t u a t i o n s i n eighteenth century B r i t a i n and France among i n d u s t r i a l workers, spinners, 28 lace makers and so on. A spinster daughter might l i v e with a widowed parent, or with brothers or s i s t e r s for a time; however, i f she l e f t the home to work i n a v i l l a g e or town, she often l i v e d with other unmarried women. Middle-class spinsters were often provided with some income from property or business when parents or other r e l a t i v e s died. They were usually the kin-keepers within t h e i r own extended families and were often connected with t h e i r v i l l a g e churches i n doing good works. More well-to-do women often l i v e d together or were able to maintain rooms of t h e i r own. These situations p a r a l l e l the modern "spinster c l u s t e r i n g " evidenced i n non-p r o f i t cooperative housing, women owning single homes or duplexes together, and experimenting with r u r a l communal enterprises that include both l i v i n g and working spaces. As i s noted i n Chapter Five however, most of the women i n t h i s study tended to l i v e alone i n rental apartments or sui t e s . In her accounts of nuns and of Chinese marriage r e s i s t e r s , Raymond (1986) makes the point that: The h i s t o r i a n or other interpreter, by gazing backward into the h i s t o r i c a l landscape, has been so accustomed to using the canons of hete r o - r e l a t i o n a l scholarship that often good feminist scholars take them for granted i n t h e i r work...For example, s c h o l a r s w i l l overlook the independent c a u s a l i t y of women's choice to l i v e , work and be with each other, i n favor of s c a r c i t y or fear of men. Or, at best, G y n / a f f e c t i v e groups are seen as exceptional women, without past and without future. Gyn/affective h i s t o r y i s treated not as " h i s t o r i c a l " but as "sheer occurrence," presumably springing from nowhere and having nowhere to go (p.147). 29 My interviews with contemporary spinsters support the h i s t o r i c a l texts i n the s i m i l a r i t i e s that e x i s t f or women across time. Comparable attitudes toward unmarried women s t i l l e x i s t . Women outside marriage who work to support themselves continue to struggle with wage d i s p a r i t i e s , lack of education, often unaffordable and/or unavailable housing, threats to t h e i r safety, the p o s s i b i l i t y of having to caretake aging parents, fears of growing old alone, and ad d i t i o n a l l y , homophobia i f they are lesbian. On the other hand, as with V i c t o r i a n spinsters who joyously r e b e l l e d against marriage and wholeheartedly embraced t h e i r autonomy, t h e i r contemporary s i s t e r s i n t h i s study, t a l k about the challenges they face. L o v e l l (1978) writes that "singleness i s known and understood as the a n t i t h e s i s of marriage. As such, i t i s commonly thought of as an unnatural status and as a manifestation of c u l t u r a l incompetence. T r a d i t i o n a l l y , s o c i o l o g i s t s and lay members a l i k e have considered singleness to be a form of deviance" (p.23). Stein (1981), i n h i s discussion of single l i f e , supports that f a c t and notes that the "never-married person has been consistently treated as a member of an i n s i g n i f i c a n t and deviant group, worthy of study only f o r i t s departure from the normal married state" (p. 7). Braito and Anderson (1981) argue that: ...given the fact that of the over s i x t y - f i v e population 8 percent are never-married, i t i s important to understand t h i s population when est a b l i s h i n g s o c i a l p o l i c y . The never-married population i s diverse and i t i s important to determine what t h e i r current l i f e s t y l e s , mental h e a l t h , happiness, concerns and problems are (p. 327). 30 The never-married should be focussed upon as a legitimate research concern i f adequate p o l i c y i s to be developed and implemented for t h i s growing population. In t h e i r discussion of the ever-single e l d e r l y , Braito and Anderson (1983) write: We have no knowledge of current ever-single e l d e r l y women to determine how they have coped with l i v i n g i n a deviant status. We have no baseline information on which to gauge the changes that w i l l occur over time as s o c i a l norms change. We have l i t t l e idea how they d i f f e r from married, widowed or divorced e l d e r l y women. People i n the ever-single marital status only recently have been studied as a separate focus. Most often they have been included i n the sin g l e group that also includes separated, divorced and widowed...Our knowledge of the ever-single person over 30, who has moved out of the so-called appropriate age at which most men and women marry, i s limited...For theory development and application, the need f o r i n v e s t i g a t i n g the implications of marital status becomes important (p. 195-196). A work that provides the most comprehensive examination of never-married e l d e r l y women i s Barbara Simon's Never Married  Women (1987). Simon explores the l i v e s of 50 American women between the ages of 66 and 101 years of age. A s i m i l a r , but much smaller, Canadian study was undertaken by M.F. O'Brien (1985). O'Brien conducted indepth interviews with 15 never-married women in Prince Edward Island who were more than 80 years old. There appear to be no studies of never-married m i d l i f e women. Certainly however, comparisons can be made along the continuum from m i d - l i f e to old age i n l i g h t of two s p e c i f i c s o c i a l c r i t e r i a — being old and being female. 31 In her study, Dr. Mary O'Brien (1985) asks why a research question should focus on a segment of society that presumably has passed the stage of l i f e where women's issues are important? And, why single women? She answers that these women are found i n large numbers among the c l i e n t populations of service providers and policy-makers for society, and that two-thirds of women over 65 are l i v i n g below the poverty l i n e i n Canada. As more and more women l i v e into t h e i r 80 's and 90's, i t becomes increasingly important that t h e i r experience of the aging process and old age be better understood for the sake of c o r r e c t i n g stereotypes and sett i n g f o r t h models of successful aging (p. 3). Simon's (1987) study asks why higher percentages of American women are remaining single, and points to the projected t i d e of never marrying among contemporary women that heightens the importance of investigating the experience of women who chose single l i f e at a much e a r l i e r points i n t h i s century. As with O'Brien's study, and my current research on m i d - l i f e never-married women, issues of work and income are c r u c i a l . When research has been done, never-married women are studied i n counter-point to the married, widowed or divorced. In an int e r e s t i n g summary of her work using data from the Bonn Longitudinal Study on Aging, Insa Fooken (1985) compared women of d i f f e r i n g marital status over time. (The Bonn Longitudinal Study on Aging began i n 19 65/66 and followed two cohorts of o r i g i n a l l y 221 women and men, who were born between 1890-1905, 32 up u n t i l 1976/77). Her study selected a small number of women (39) and found evidence of v a r i a b i l i t y among old-aged women as well as of developmental growth-oriented change. One in t e r e s t i n g finding i s that while s t r u c t u r a l variables have a profound impact on older women, Fooken discovered the impact of women's attitudes toward the future — a p o s i t i v e attitude appeared to be i n d i c a t i v e of a successful pattern of aging. Echoing research which maintains that there i s no such thing as a t y p i c a l o l d woman (Ring and Marvel, 1984; Simon, 1988; O'Brien, 1985), Fooken's research veered from studies i n which women i n old age may seem s i m i l a r to one another only i f compared with male contemporaries. Her study was q u a l i t a t i v e . She notes that demands on the size of the sample, sampling procedures, and g e n e r a l i z a b i l i t y of the r e s u l t s , had to be reduced. What remained, she found, had to be regarded as a small and s e l e c t i v e sample, but one that exhibited the advantage of lo n g i t u d i n a l l y obtained data. Her primary variable was marital status. ...there i s reason to believe that the m a n i f e s t a t i o n o f a g i v e n m a r i t a l status...refers to quite d i f f e r e n t experiences of one's l i f e s i t u a t i o n . Skimming through some gerontological l i t e r a t u r e , one might get the opinion that the s i t u a t i o n of married women i s a taken-for-granted norm of female existence i n o ld age, whereas so-called single women are looked upon as a deviant minority... Factually the reverse i s true: Being married i n old age i s an exceptional state for women, while being singl e i s the common thing (p.82). 33 Braito and Anderson (1983) comment that current never marrieds "can inform us of the factors associated with being able to survive when the normative marriage net i s circumvented" (p. 217). I f relevant p o l i c y for t h i s population i s to be developed, i t w i l l be necessary to undertake longitudinal research as well as d i r e c t inquiry into l i f e s t y l e s . What i s noteworthy, i s that spinsters e x i s t and have existed throughout h i s t o r y . They are a persistent minority who need to be heard. This research w i l l , I hope, through the voices of the contemporary single women, both lesbian and heterosexual, add an important piece to the fragmented picture of women. One overarching theme of concern to the women interviewed for t h i s current study, as well as for women i n the Simon and O'Brien studies, was the importance of work and income to t h e i r attitudes on growing older. Work and income are c r u c i a l to independence. To provide a l i n k to the empirical sections of the paper, the following chapter w i l l examine some of the factors for women's income "i n s e c u r i t y . " 34 CHAPTER THREE: Never-Married Women and the Labor Market O c c u p a t i o n s e g r e g a t i o n i s u n l i k e l y t o disappear or even lessen appreciably unless major revisions occur i n our ideology of gender and the d i v i s i o n of labor between the sexes...Ultimately, job segregation i s j u s t a part of the generally separate (and unequal) l i v e s that women and men i n our society lead, and, unless the o v e r a l l separateness i s ended, the separateness within the occupational system i s un l i k e l y to end either (Oppenheim Mason, 1984:169). In 1970, members of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women i n Canada tabled 167 recommendations i n an exhaustive study that was the culmination of a mandate by government "to inquire into and report upon the status of women i n Canada and to recommend what steps might be taken by the federal government to ensure for women, equal opportunities with men i n a l l aspects of Canadian Society" (Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women, 1983) . In the twenty years since the report, i t i s sobering to r e f l e c t on the r e l a t i v e l y few r e a l gains made by women. Probably nowhere i s the devalued status of women i l l u s t r a t e d so v i v i d l y as i t i s i n the labor force, and within the Canadian economy. Women are generally low paid, segregated into dead-end jobs with no benefits and, even i f they have an education, usually w i l l earn less than a man i n a comparable p o s i t i o n . I f they are single, divorced, separated or widowed, i t i s l i k e l y 35 that they (and t h e i r children) w i l l l i v e i n poverty despite income transfers at some time i n t h e i r l i v e s . Labor force s t a t i s t i c s and labor economists focus on the ever-increasing labor force p a r t i c i p a t i o n of married women with children, and c i t e t h i s family/work attachment as a primary reason for the wage d i f f e r e n t i a l between men and women. Never-married women i n the labor force however, have work l i v e s which not been interrupted by marriage and/or children, yet, as i s i l l u s t r a t e d , t h e i r wages, benefits and opportunities for t r a i n i n g and promotion often f a l l below the standards of t h e i r male counterparts. Income D i s t r i b u t i o n Gunderson (1983) suggests that issues of income d i s t r i b u t i o n have been neglected by both economists and p o l i c y makers. Inequitable d i s t r i b u t i o n i n the market appears to be a given and therefore: ... the focus i s on r e d i s t r i b u t i o n p o l i c i e s within a market economy, rather than on the more fundamental question pertaining to s o c i a l j u s t i c e or the ethics of how the basic d i s t r i b u t i o n o f income i t s e l f becomes e s t a b l i s h e d through a l l of our s o c i a l i n s t i t u t i o n s ( v i i i ) . Gunderson's statement i s p i v o t a l . A basic share of income does not accrue to women; and u n t i l recent l i m i t e d l e g i s l a t i v e amendments such as pay equity provisions and affirmative action programs were implemented i n certa i n sectors, l i p service was 36 paid to the inequity. In h i s discussion of income d i s t r i b u t i o n i n Canada, Ross (1980) notes that between 1951 and 1978, the bottom 20 percent of Canadian family units h a b i t u a l l y received approximately four percent of t o t a l Canadian income, and the top 20 percent received approximately 42 percent. Ross adds that women i n each q u i n t i l e received an income between one-half and one-third that of t h e i r male counterparts, and that t h i s has been stable since 1951 (p. 85). Various factors influence income d i s t r i b u t i o n (Ross, 1980). The f i r s t i s that many income re c i p i e n t s possess d i f f e r e n t c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s and opportunities; secondly, there i s the influence of government tax and s o c i a l security programs; and f i n a l l y , the influence of earnings d i f f e r e n t i a l s . There are other c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s such as age, s o c i a l c l a s s , e t h n i c i t y , race and region which also a f f e c t income d i s p a r i t y ; f or women, i t would seem obvious that the inequities i n personal income are due to income differences associated with sex. Economists, p a r t i c u l a r l y those of the neocl a s s i c a l school however, do not believe that sex discrimination i s a factor (Block and Walker, 1982) . 37 The Issue of Gender within the Work Force The h i s t o r i c exclusion of women from the public worlds of business, finance, economics and p o l i t i c s means even less i s known about how women l i v e and work, and the r e s u l t i n g i n v i s i b i l i t y i s r e f l e c t e d i n public p o l i c i e s and l e g i s l a t i o n . The world of women - the p r i v a t e world of the home, the family, community, and l i m i t e d areas of the labour force — i f seen at a l l , i s seen as peripheral to those who p l o t Canada 1s economic future (Women and the Economy Committee, 1986). The science of economics i s "simply a system of d i s t r i b u t i o n of the work, resources, and wealth of a society. I t i s the sum t o t a l of a l l d i v i s i o n s regarding what work i s to be done, who w i l l do that work, and who w i l l benefit from i t , and the a l l o c a t i o n of c a p i t a l , resources and wealth" (p. 13) . As Women and the Economy Committee (1986) point out, "economics" i n i t s o r i g i n a l Greek i s oikonomia and refers to the management of the household. The terminology of economics, such as "marketplace," sounds homey and harmless, but rather than addressing the household, i t has more often focussed on business and government. An underlying issue i n a discussion of women's labor force p a r t i c i p a t i o n i s the prevalence of what Abramovitz (1988) terms the ideology of the "family e t h i c . " The family ethic accepts women's economic dependence on men, sex segregation i n the market place, a gender d i v i s i o n of society and i n general, supports the conditions that underpin female subordination i n both the public and private spheres. This ethic f l i e s i n the 38 face of the fact that according to S t a t i s t i c s Canada, the ranks of women i n Canada's work force are increasing dramatically while men's p a r t i c i p a t i o n i s dec l i n i n g ("Women's Rush to Work Force," 1988). According to the Globe and Mail a r t i c l e , S t a t i s t i c s Canada 1986 census figures show that the increasing number of women at work accounted for 94 percent of Canada's employment growth between 1981 and 1986. In addition, the percentage of Canadian working-age women choosing to p a r t i c i p a t e i n the labor force rose to 55.9 percent i n 1986, from 51.8 percent i n 1981. The a r t i c l e notes that more women with children are going out to work, boosting t h e i r p a r t i c i p a t i o n rate i n the labor force to 61.2 percent from 52.1 percent. Even greater increases were shown i n t h i s category among married women with children under s i x years of age. Their p a r t i c i p a t i o n rate went to 62.1 percent i n 1986 from 49.5 percent i n 1981. According to S t a t i s t i c s Canada, the p a r t i c i p a t i o n rate of single (never-married) women aged 45 to 64 i s 61.7 percent. Single women aged 45 to 54 working f u l l - t i m e f o r a f u l l year, earned approximately $25,668 while women aged 55 and older earned $22,522. This i s consistent with findings of the twelve interviews with never-married women, ha l f of whom were earning $25,000 or less despite working from t h e i r teen years. 39 Abramovitz suggests that the fact that the family ethic i s under attack has engendered two mainstream p o l i c y responses: a move to restore the family ethic, and a move to reformulate i t . The "pro-family" platform of the New Right, the Moral Majority...the r i s e of r e l i g i o u s fundamentalism, the m o r a l i s t i c response to AIDS, the media spotlight on research t e l l i n g s i n g l e women over t h i r t y that marriage i s out of t h e i r reach, and the amount of media attention given to professional women who have interrupted t h e i r careers to return home are ju s t a few of the better known attempts to focus women exclusively on marriage and family r a t h e r than work and other independent pursuits (p. 8). A more l i b e r a l response, on the other hand, seeks to reform the family ethic so that women can manage both home and work. "Supermom" w i l l handle each of her roles with minimal pressure with the help of pay equity, daycare, flextime and so on. Where i s "superdad"? While some of the terms of the family ethic are undergoing change to match new s o c i a l and economic trends, says Abramovitz, the core of the ethic — a gender d i v i s i o n of labor that assigns only women to caretaking roles i n the home — does not appear to be i n serious jeopardy. This d i v i s i o n of labor i s dismissed almost as a given i n both neo c l a s s i c a l and Marxist theory. Abramovitz points out for example, that Marxist analysis "did not include the rel a t i o n s h i p of women's domestic labor to c a p i t a l i s t production, nor did i t define the reproductive sphere as a po t e n t i a l source of women's oppression" (p.27). Joshi's (1986) analysis suggests that while the assumption of domestic r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s greatly hampers a woman's earnings, 40 the major disruption of women's employment i s motherhood. She notes that there i s a p r e v a i l i n g assumption that "any female may have to take on a domestic r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , which also naturally would i n t e r f e r e with her work performance" (p.262). This attitude i s often r e f l e c t e d i n the low educational, occupational and wage expectations of women who may not even leave the labor force for domestic reasons. Knights and Willmott (1986) note that conventional studies of work and employment have remained oblivious to any problems concerning gender d i s t i n c t i o n s within the labor process. They state that the impact of r a d i c a l feminism has represented a fundamental challenge to conservatism's complacency regarding the r o l e of women i n modern culture. In combination...the h i s t o r i c a l expansion of women's employment, t h e renewed and uncompromising vigour of feminist discourse, and the l i m i t e d assistance of a n t i -discrimination l e g i s l a t i o n give a tremendous impetus to theory and practice concerned with reconstructing gender r e l a t i o n s both i n and out of work (p. 2). Labor Force P a r t i c i p a t i o n The labor force consists of persons who are working or looking for work ( S t a t i s t i c s Canada, 1986). Gunderson (1980) describes the basic theory of labor force p a r t i c i p a t i o n as one that i s usually tested with data on married women since they are assumed to have considerable f l e x i b i l i t y to respond to the determinants of l a b o r f o r c e p a r t i c i p a t i o n . When dramatic labor force p a r t i c i p a t i o n rates are highlighted for example, i t i s generally i n regard to the burgeoning p a r t i c i p a t i o n of married women with children. While t h i s i s extremely important i n the o v e r a l l discussion of women's p a r t i c i p a t i o n r a t e s , l i t t l e i n f o r m a t i o n i s highlighted on those women, termed single/never-married by S t a t i s t i c s Canada, who have been i n the labor force t h e i r entire l i v e s , or who have work l i v e s comparable to men. As well, some married women with children, or single mothers, have always been attached to the labor force — domestic workers for example. The white, middle class wife.and mother, a s t a t i s t i c a l phenomenon, i s seen as a r e l a t i v e l y new addition to the labor force. Women have always worked and h i s t o r i c a l l y , the wage d i f f e r e n t i a l has existed since men and women f i r s t earned wages. Day (1987) for example, writes that a l i s t of pay scales f o r harvesters from 1440 shows women earning less than men for the same work. In her discussion of occupational segregation i n the United States, Roos (1985) notes: On the whole, they [the data] suggest that never-married women are more l i k e men i n t h e i r labor-force behavior, i n the sense that they are more l i k e l y than married women to pa r t i c i p a t e i n the labor force, and to work f u l l time when they are employed. At the same time, however, despite t h e i r greater labor-f o r c e commitment, never-married women are concentrated i n very d i f f e r e n t jobs from those in which men are employed, working i n c l e r i c a l jobs and the female professions rather than i n higher-paying male employment....The female p r o f e s s i o n s do not d i f f e r very much i n 42 prestige, or average pay, from the kinds of jobs i n which married women are employed— c l e r i c a l , sales, and service work. Thus, although marital r e s p o n s i b i l i t e s a f f e c t the kinds of jobs i n which women work, these differences are not large and for the most part do not translate into differences i n prestige or wage rate (p. 154). Roos's comments apply to h a l f the partic i p a n t s i n t h i s study; most of whom were i n t r a d i t i o n a l female jobs and careers. For three of the twelve however, long-term employment, some prestige and reasonable income, was accorded t h e i r positions — one was a school p r i n c i p a l , one a respected j o u r n a l i s t and another a labor union execuative. Abramovitz (1988) notes that p o l i c i e s and programs have tended over the years, to reward women whose l i v e s include marriage, motherhood and homemaking but to penalize women who did not, or could not choose that path. This group, which includes sin g l e mothers as well as never-married women, could not expect protection, and often faced s o c i a l stigma and economic in s e c u r i t y . As a dominant s o c i a l norm the family ethic a r t i c u l a t e s the terms of women's work and family r o l e s . According to i t s rules, proper women marry and have children while being supported by and subordinated to a male b r e a d w i n n e r . E v e n t h r o u g h m a j o r transformations i n the p o l i t i c a l economy, the fa m i l y e t h i c has persisted. In c o l o n i a l America for example, women's r o l e i n the home was expected to be an economically productive one. Since the Indu s t r i a l Revolution however, the family ethic geared the female homemaker's d u t i e s toward consuming ( r a t h e r than 43 producing), maintaining the health and w e l l -being of family members, s o c i a l i z i n g c h i l d r e n to t h e i r proper adult roles, caring f or the sic k and aged, and overseeing the maintenance of the household (p. 3). Perhaps one of the most profound changes to women's labor force p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n modern times was during what Hewlett (1986) c a l l s the "aberrant" 1950s — the decade during which the women i n t h i s study were either i n t h e i r teens or twenties. Up u n t i l the l a t e 1940s, both single and married women had been increasing t h e i r labor force p a r t i c i p a t i o n at an unprecedented rate. Between 1942 and 194 5, while 14 m i l l i o n American men were i n the armed services, an additional f i v e m i l l i o n women workers were employed. They worked at formerly male jobs i n addition to t r a d i t i o n a l l y female rol e s , and government p o l i c y encouraged t h e i r new work roles by contributing for example, to community c h i l d care f a c i l i t i e s . Just as i t s p o l i c i e s supported women during the war, the postwar years saw economic strategy begin to change i n preparation for returning service men. Despite the fac t that the economy was booming, women were now encouraged to leave t h e i r wartime jobs and return home to help restore a sense of security to the nation. Interestingly, many women did not want to return home. Many were f i r e d i f they did not quit, and i n a f i n a l move to force them home, government closed the c h i l d care centres. Women were lured home through government subsidies to t h e i r husbands. The 44 GI B i l l provided free education to married men, while the Highway Act b u i l t roads and subsidized homes i n what became known as the suburbs. The trademarks of the period — an extended baby boom, a g l o r i f i c a t i o n of domesticity, a t u r n i n g a g a i n s t careers f o r women, an impressive elaboration of the maternal r o l e — a l l run counter t o modern va l u e s and c o n t r a d i c t previously e x i s t i n g trends (p. 232) . Regardless of marital status, or the length of time spent i n the labor force, the wage gap between men and women ex i s t s . Needless to say, various theories from neoclassical to Marxist, purport to be able to account for t h i s d i s p a r i t y . Neoclassical economic theory f o r example, admits the p o s s i b i l i t y of economic discrimination but views i t as a temporary phenomenon (Schmid, 1984; Hutner, 1986). I t i s seen as a paradox or deviation from the ru l e i n that two, equally productive people, receive the same wages independent of sex, age or race. When women point to t h e i r low average f u l l - t i m e earnings however, they are t o l d that they earn le s s because t h e i r work i s worth le s s (Hutner, 1986). The workings of the marketplace w i l l tend to eliminate discrimination because competing, profit-seeking employers w i l l b i d against each other for the cheap, underpaid labor and w i l l up i t s p r i c e to the l e v e l of what i t ' s worth. And workers w i l l move to the jobs that reward them best f o r t h e i r a b i l i t y and productivity • (p. 9) . 45 Given that women have been i n the labor force for generations, the i n v i s i b l e hand of the market has been slow to eliminate discrimination against them. How are women discriminated against and how i s t h i s discrimination explained? Discrimination i s an enormous and complex topi c even when s p e c i f i c a l l y related to labor force economics. As Gunderson (1980) notes, economics has a great deal to say about discrimination which can occur against various groups and within various markets. He says that "the economic analysis of discrimination provides a good a p p l i c a t i o n for many of the basic p r i n c i p l e s of labour market economics. In addition i t indicates the l i m i t a t i o n s of some of these too l s i n an area where non-economic factors may play a c r u c i a l r o l e " (p. 344). Various reasons and sources are c i t e d for sex discrimination i n the labor market (Gunderson, 1980; Schmid, 1984). Economists suggest that i t exists because males prefer to work with males; or, that erroneous information i s provided by women and about women about t h e i r own worth i n the market; s t a t i s t i c a l information which judges in d i v i d u a l women on the performance of some women; and f i n a l l y , so that men may protect t h e i r own higher paying jobs. The sources of discrimination are named as employers, male co-workers and consumers. I t i s evident from Gunderson (1980, 1983) that the theories of supply and demand are important i n the discussion of sex discrimination i n the labor market. The demand for female labor fo r example, i s reduced r e l a t i v e to the demand for equally 46 productive male labor. On the other hand, women tend to be segregated into female-ghetto jobs that lower t h e i r marginal pro d u c t i v i t y and t h e i r wages. As Culyer (1980) notes i n his discussion about the law of supply, owners want the highest p r o f i t s possible; thus they w i l l obviously maximize p r o f i t by h i r i n g from the secondary or peripheral market which i s occupied predominantly by low-waged women and minorities. A further rationale for wage d i f f e r e n t i a l s i s outlined i n a non-competitive theory of discrimination (Gunderson, 1980; Schmid, 1984). Here, discrimination leads to a segregation of males and females, not wage d i f f e r e n t i a l s . Firms not adverse to h i r i n g women (at lower wages) would increase t h e i r p r o f i t s . The demand f o r women would boost wages u n t i l the male-female wage d i f f e r e n t i a l was eliminated. Needless to say, despite the neatness of the theory, wage d i f f e r e n t i a l s do p e r s i s t and discrimination does not seem to have declined. In her research into Canadian incomes, Rosenfeld (1980) also discusses competition theory and the s p l i t labor market where the focus i s not on ind i v i d u a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s which d i f f e r by sex, but on competition between men and women i n the labor market and on differences by sex i n group bargaining strength. She notes that i n a s p l i t labor market, there i s p o t e n t i a l l y unequal pay f o r equal work. The trouble i s , that while there i s sex segregation, i t i s d i f f i c u l t to say whether there i s unequal pay for equal work, since i t i s d i f f i c u l t to f i n d men and women i n the same job. She says: 47 Although the s p l i t labor market approach p o t e n t i a l l y accounts for differences i n l e v e l s of income, i t does not account for differences i n careers except to the extent that the jobs l e f t open to the lower paid group are those without promotion p o t e n t i a l . Rosenfeld's research showed that both i n the United States and Canada, men and women " d i f f e r i n t h e i r occupational and i n d u s t r i a l l o c a t i o n at any time, i n the income they receive, and in t h e i r patterns of advancement over t h e i r work l i v e s " (p.393). According to Boyd and Humphreys (1980) i f income d i f f e r s , i t i s due to compositional differences between groups with respect to t h e i r education and other income-relevant c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s . Human c a p i t a l theory attempts to define productivity i n t h i s way— wage d i f f e r e n t i a l s e x i s t because i t i s assumed men and women use t h e i r human c a p i t a l d i f f e r e n t l y . Gunderson (1980) points out that women t r a d i t i o n a l l y have a shorter stay i n the labor market and therefore i t i s d i f f i c u l t f or them to recoup the costs of t h e i r personal human c a p i t a l investments. I f they spend intermittent time i n the labor market, t h e i r human c a p i t a l investment depreciates and they tend not to accumulate labor market experience. For these reasons, Gunderson believes that women themselves and the firms that could be t h e i r potential employers, are reluctant to invest i n female human c a p i t a l formation that i s labor-market oriented. Again, t h i s theory does not seem to account for women who have not had labor market interruptions. Unmarried domestic laborers, factory workers, and c l e r i c a l workers a l l seem subject to sex discrimination. Female 48 u n i v e r s i t y graduates for example, may invest thousands of d o l l a r s i n t h e i r education, yet s t a t i s t i c s i l l u s t r a t e (Labour Canada, 1986/87) that they w i l l continue to earn l e s s , and be promoted less often than t h e i r male counterparts. Gunderson (1980) makes c e r t a i n generalizations on the empirical evidence of Canadian studies to determine how much of the wage d i f f e r e n t i a l r e f l e c t s discrimination. On average, females tend to earn 50 to 60 percent of what males earn i n a year. This a d j u s t e d r a t i o may r e f l e c t "wage discrimination, the segregation of females i n t o low wage f i r m s , occupations and i n d u s t r i e s / as w e l l as d i f f e r e n c e s i n p r o d u c t i v i t y - r e l a t e d f a c t o r s such as e d u c a t i o n , t r a i n i n g , e x p e r i e n c e , and absenteeism and turnover. Differences i n these p r o d u c t i v i t y - r e l a t e d f a c t o r s may r e f l e c t unconstrained choices and they may r e f l e c t pre-labour market discrimination, perhaps i n education i n s t i t u t i o n s or i n the household (p. 352). While Gunderson points out that these factors contributes to suggests that: i t i s d i f f i c u l t to say which of the earnings d i f f e r e n t i a l , he ...discrimination within the labor market probably occurs more i n the form of the s e g r e g a t i o n of females i n t o low wage occupations, industries and establishments, rather than i n the form of wage discrimination within the same establishment. In addition, discrimination outside the labour market, i n p a r t i c u l a r within educational i n s t i t u t i o n s and households, may be p a r t l y responsible f o r differences i n such factors as the labour market orientation of education and t r a i n i n g , or i n differences i n absenteeism and turnover or continuous work experience (p. 353). 49 Boyd and Humphreys (1980) confirm Gunderson's conclusions. Basing t h e i r analysis on 1972 census data of income attainment by men and women i n the 1973 Canadian native-born labor force who were f u l l - t i m e employees, f u l l - t i m e female employees earned 62 percent of the mean income of t h e i r male counterparts. However, Boyd and Humphreys note that women's human c a p i t a l s k i l l s were comparable to men's i n educational and status attainment. They conclude that female f u l l - t i m e native born paid employees earn less than men "because they do not benefit from t h e i r income relevant c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s i n the same way as men do" (p. 406). The reasons for t h i s r e l a t e to the impact of women's loca t i o n i n eithe r the core, or the periphery, market. Their study asked i f sex differences i n income and income attainment processes of native born men and women are conditioned by loc a t i o n i n core and periphery labor markets: The analysis indicates that 1) such men and women are almost equally d i s t r i b u t e d into the core and into the periphery i n d u s t r i a l sectors of the Canadian economy; 2) the income attainment process of male workers i n the core does not d i f f e r from that of male workers i n the periphery, whereas female workers i n the core industries receive a higher rate of return for t h e i r years i n the labour force and education when compared to females i n the per i p h e r y ; 3) d i f f e r e n t i a l evaluation of c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s by sex remains a major source of the lower income of women within labour markets. However, the extent of income d i s c r e p a n c y and the impact o f such d i f f e r e n t i a l e v a l u a t i o n v a r i e s by. core-periphery location (p. 410). 50 Rosenfeld (1980) makes an important point when she says that the ideology that women are wives and mothers, not "workers" p e r s i s t s even when women are employed, and thus makes t h e i r labor market behavior e a s i l y manipulated. Indeed, Abramovitz (1986,1988) concludes that the notion that women belong at home has h i s t o r i c a l l y sanctioned the unequal treatment of women i n the market, while the r e s u l t i n g economic i n s e c u r i t y has often forced them back into the home. E i s e n s t e i n (1981) points out an obvious contradiction seemingly overlooked i n neoclassical analysis, that despite i t s r h e t o r i c regarding women's place, c a p i t a l needs cheap market labor, as well as unpaid domestic labor, to care for those who cannot work and to reproduce the labor force. Women are therefore caught i n a double bind which i d e o l o g i c a l l y supports pro-family p o l i c i e s (women at home with no income, unless they are domestic workers i n which case they receive l e s s than minimum wage i n a generally white household) but which forces them to f i l l s l o t s i n the periphery sector of the labor force. The p o l i c i e s do not seem to include adequate c h i l d care f a c i l i t i e s . The 1980s have seen a right-wing backlash against gains for women both economically and s o c i a l l y . Gender inequality i s perceived as an immutable and almost divine given, and those who wish to expose the f a l l a c y , such as feminists, are seen to be destroying the structures of society. What neoclassical analysis does not appear to take into account, i s the already changing structure of the family where for example, more Canadians than ever are l i v i n g outside the t r a d i t i o n a l two-parent family (Women i n Canada: A S t a t i s t i c a l Report, 1985). Other s i g n i f i c a n t trends include the f a c t that people are marrying l a t e r and divorcing and remarrying i n large numbers; couples are having fewer children or delaying or foregoing childbearing. In husband-wife f a m i l i e s , the f e r t i l i t y rate was 1.3 c h i l d r e n i n 1986 ( S t a t i s t i c s Canada, 1987). How can gender inequality i n the labor force be transformed? Researchers and p o l i c y makers o f f e r a v a r i e t y of solutions. Gunderson (1980) notes that the primary f o c i of public p o l i c y have been equal pay l e g i s l a t i o n , equal employment opportunity l e g i s l a t i o n , affirmative action, and p o l i c i e s to f a c i l i t a t e female employment and to a l t e r tastes and attitudes (p.358). Rose-Lizee and Dussault (1980) recommend p o l i c i e s that w i l l include equal pay l e g i s l a t i o n , laws p r o h i b i t i n g discrimination i n h i r i n g and promotion, massive improvement i n working c o n d i t i o n s and wages i n firms which h i r e mainly women, government contributions toward job creation p o l i c y and f u l l employment as well as improved minimum wage laws. Their f i n a l recommendation i s unionization. From t h e i r research, Boyd and Humphreys (1980) believe that the income gap w i l l not be closed by endorsing p o l i c i e s to upgrade women's human c a p i t a l s k i l l s . Data suggest, they say, "that sex d i s p a r i t i e s i n income w i l l attenuate i n Canada only when stronger l e g i s l a t i o n regulating the private sector i s 52 enacted" (p. 411). They support the suggestion that "optimal strategy may well be one of a well-enforced equal opportunity l e g i s l a t i o n combined with equal pay l e g i s l a t i o n " (p. 411). ...ameliorative action concerning male-female income i n e q u a l i t i e s w i l l not only e n t a i l the strategies proposed by economists concerning government expenditures i n core and periphery industries, but also may require a more active i n t e r v e n t i o n on the p a r t of u n i o n s , governments and occupational associations i n the establishment and monitoring of equal pay and equal opportunities p o l i c i e s (p. 411). Concluding her discussion of sex differences i n socio-economic achievement, Rosenfeld (1980) concurs with other researchers that "equal pay and equal opportunity l e g i s l a t i o n be e f f e c t i v e l y enacted, while acknowledging other important needs of women i n Canada such as for c h i l d care, better labor organizations, and affirmative action" (p. 393). These p o l i c y recommendations cannot be implemented e f f i c i e n t l y without, according to Joshi (1986), complementary changes outside the market sphere; these include p o l i c i e s that would enable women to combine parenthood and employment as successfully as most men, as well as f i s c a l p o l i c i e s that would change the domestic burden within the family. Gunderson (198 0) argues that equal pay and equal opportunity l e g i s l a t i o n can be seen by some as " p o l i c i e s designed to raise the p r i c e of discrimination" through court proceedings and f i n e s . U n d e r l y i n g t h i s f e a r i s the n o t i o n t h a t the discrimination of employers, employees and consumers against 53 women w i l l be enhanced because of the l e g i s l a t i o n , rather than a l t e r i n g t h e i r tastes and attitudes. My sense of gender inequality as i t re l a t e s to income r e d i s t r i b u t i o n i s that i t i s an enormous issue with no f a c i l e s o l u t i o n to be found i n l e g i s l a t i o n alone. The prejudices underlying women's inequality i n general, are so complex as to seem r i d i c u l o u s . I f women are i n v i s i b l e i n the academic, medical, psychological, s o c i a l , l e g a l , church, and philosophical arenas, then i t i s no surprise that they are absent from the socio-economic sphere as well. Women know that they are poor, that s t a t i s t i c a l l y they w i l l o u t l i v e t h e i r husbands, that more than one-third of them over age 65 w i l l l i v e i n poverty, that despite t h e i r education they w i l l make les s than t h e i r male counterparts, that despite media hype about career women, society s t i l l expects them to be wives and mothers. Gunderson (1983) says that "neglect of income d i s t r i b u t i o n issues by economists probably r e f l e c t s the fact that economics i t s e l f does not provide the tools to make formal statements about whether one d i s t r i b u t i o n of income i s better than another... economists have tended to recommend separating the issues of economic e f f i c i e n c y (resource allocation) from issues of equity ( d i s t r i b u t i o n ) " (p.3). Global solutions to the problem are needed, but feminist t h e o r i s t s , s o c i a l workers, researchers, s o c i o l o g i s t s , community workers and others committed to changes i n inequality have struggled with the issue f or generations. I t i s more than 54 l e g i s l a t i o n . I t i s a matter of rethinking gender r e l a t i o n s ; recognizing sexism and misogyny and eliminating i t from our educational and p o l i t i c a l systems, from our s p i r i t u a l i t y and r e l i g i o n , from our notions of family, from our ideas about r e l a t i o n s h i p s , from our attitudes about what constitutes " f a i r n e s s " and equitable d i s t r i b u t i o n . I t i s about recognizing how various groups within our society are treated and making l i n k s for example, between issues of women's economic s i t u a t i o n and defence spending. I t i s about working on a l l fronts, always. The p o l i c y implications then, are never-ending. One issue i s cle a r though, changes are needed i n economic decision making. Women's varying perspectives must be included whether or not they be f u l l - t i m e labor force p a r t i c i p a n t s . Although I am aware of not addressing the experiences of women from d i f f e r e n t r a c i a l / e t h n i c backgrounds and classes, and that one cannot generalize from white, middle-class women, what I have discovered, or had reconfirmed i n t h i s chapter, i s that regardless of marital status, length of time i n the labor force and human c a p i t a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s , c a p i t a l ' s d i s t r i b u t i o n of income to women f a l l s f a r short of that allocated to men. In t h e i r discussion, Long and Porter (1984) note that sex d i f f e r e n t i a l s i n earnings o f t e n a t t r i b u t e d to women's intermittent labor force p a r t i c i p a t i o n , p e r s i s t i n l i f e t i m e earnings curves even of women with no intermittency. 5 5 When women enter the market, employers seem to be able to r a t i o n a l i z e paying them less, often for work i n the le a s t stable and most uninteresting jobs, on the grounds that they are secondary earners — even though they may be sing l e ! The idea that women belong i n the home has h i s t o r i c a l l y sanctioned t h e i r unequal treatment i n the market place, and has r a t i o n a l i z e d t h e i r e x p l o i t a t i o n on the job (Abramovitz, 1988). The following chapters present the empirical study of never-married m i d l i f e women, and i l l u s t r a t e the c r u c i a l p o s i t i o n of income through wages or pensions to each respondent. Income security i s the fulcrum on which her experience of aging and of being single i s balanced. 56 CHAPTER FOUR: Methodology An exploratory study i s a beginning. I t i s a mapping of the t e r r i t o r y . I t i s an ex c i t i n g f i r s t step, and a f r u s t r a t i n g r e a l i z a t i o n of where a researcher could go i f only... she had more time, more money, or a research team. An explorer has a sense of where she i s going, believes she i s carrying the ri g h t equipment and has prepared f o r her journey through discussion with other explorers, and by reading t h e i r works. The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines explore as: "Inquire into; examine by touch; examine (country) by going through i t . " The word i s rooted i n the l a t i n word meaning to flow, and i n the French, to search out. This exploratory study of never-married and c h i l d l e s s women in m i d l i f e i s an inquiry into...and an examination of the "country" i n h a b i t e d by these often-feared and r i d i c u l e d spinsters noted i n the V i c t o r i a n period. Since there i s l i t t l e empirical data available on never-married m i d l i f e women (Gee and Kimball, 1987; Baruch and Brooks-Gunn, 1984) an exploratory, q u a l i t a t i v e method was chosen whereby women were interviewed using an interview guide approach (Patton, 1983). Patton describes an interview guide as: ...a l i s t of questions or issues that are to be explored i n the course of an interview. An interview guide i s prepared i n order to make 57 sure that b a s i c a l l y the same information i s obtained from a number of people by covering the same m a t e r i a l . The int e r v i e w guide provides topics or subject areas within which the interviewer i s free to explore, probe, and ask questions t h a t w i l l e l u c i d a t e and illuminate that p a r t i c u l a r subject. Thus, the i n t e r v i e w e r remains f r e e t o b u i l d a conversation within a p a r t i c u l a r subject area, to word questions spontaneously and to est a b l i s h a conversational s t y l e — but with the focus on a p a r t i c u l a r subject that has been predetermined (p. 200). In view of the fact that l i t t l e research has been done regarding the v a r i a t i o n s among women (Baruch et a l , 1983; Gee and Kimball, 1987) one function of the present study was to examine the comparative richness within the sample; that i s , comparing never-married women with one another, rather than with or against men or, married m i d l i f e women. In addition, within the "comparative richness," I was interested i n whether or not these future e l d e r l y women would be i n the same s t a t i s t i c a l p o s i t i o n as unattached old women today — l i v i n g alone i n poverty. A further goal, stimulated by both the l i t e r a t u r e and the interviews with the respondents, was to focus on issues of work and income, so central to a woman's personal autonomy. I had an idea of the group I wanted to study and a sense that the research would take shape using q u a l i t a t i v e methods. In an a r t i c l e i n the Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health. L o r d , S c h n a r r and Hutchison, (1987) i d e n t i f y s e v e r a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of q u a l i t a t i v e methodologies. These include: 58 1. Q u a l i t a t i v e methods are n a t u r a l i s t i c : no attempt i s made to manipulate the research se t t i n g . This approach increases the pa r t i c i p a n t s ' l e v e l of comfort and strengthens the v a l i d i t y of the study (Patton, 1980). Although the q u a l i t a t i v e researcher does not change the se t t i n g i n any way, he or she does take into account the "systems or environment of which the subject i s a part" (Bercovici, 1981, p.133). 2. Q u a l i t a t i v e research i s h o l i s t i c : i t i s based on the premise that the whole i s greater than the sum of i t s parts. The q u a l i t a t i v e researcher seeks to understand the ges t a l t , the unifying nature of p a r t i c u l a r settings, events, perceptions or int e r a c t i o n s . . . 3. Q u a l i t a t i v e methods acknowledge the s u b j e c t i v i t y of human  behaviour: (Bogdan and Taylor, 1975); i n Denizen's (1982) terms, q u a l i t a t i v e methods aim to " p a r t i c u l a r i z e " l i f e experiences. People vary and t h e i r experiences and perceptions d i f f e r . Q u a l i t a t i v e research enables t h i s amazing d i v e r s i t y to come a l i v e . The researcher reaches out to people, l i s t e n s and empathizes i n order to understand the context of people's l i v e s (Agar, 1986; Bogdan and Taylor, 1975; Patton, 1980). He or she gathers "personalized" data which emphasize i n d i v i d u a l i t y and common human concerns rather than numbers and l a b e l l i n g (p. 36). The interviews took place between February 1988 and September 1988, and were an attempt to e l i c i t each woman's int e r p r e t a t i o n and perceptions of her own l i f e and choices. Most sessions lasted from two to four hours. The shortest interview was 1.5 hours with a woman who, although she was interested i n p a r t i c i p a t i n g , was reluctant to answer many of the questions. Because of the q u a l i t a t i v e nature of the data, the women's own words are used as often as possible. Probably the most important aspect of a q u a l i t a t i v e approach for t h i s study was that i t allowed the voices and experiences of never-married m i d l i f e women to describe t h e i r own l i v e s . The use of in-depth questions with numerous probes was a way to "hear" the l i v e s of ordinary women; f o r as theologian Nelle Morton 59 (1985) notes, women need to "hear each other into speech." Hearing of t h i s s o r t i s equivalent to empowerment. We empower one another by hearing the o t h e r t o speech. We empower the d i s i n h e r i t e d , the outsider, as we are able to hear them name i n t h e i r own way t h e i r own oppression and suffering...Hearing i n t h i s sense can break through p o l i t i c a l and s o c i a l structures and image a new system. A great ear at the heart of the universe — at the heart of our common l i f e — hearing human beings to speech — to our own speech (p. 128). Story t e l l i n g i s an ancient r i t u a l among women, one that has been diminished as women's speech and language has l o s t influence i n the broader culture. In t e l l i n g her story, a woman gives shape to her experience. As hundreds of women t e l l t h e i r s t o r i e s , the patterns of our commonality and d i v e r s i t y emerge. We f e e l l e s s i s o l a t e d . The s t o r i e s of never-married women are few. Veevers (1980) i n her study of voluntary childlessness within marriage, found that conventionally constructed instruments such as questionnaires, were not "subtle enough to pick up the i n t r i c a c i e s and f i n e points which r e a l l y d i f f e r e n t i a t e d the orientations and attitudes of c h i l d l e s s persons from t h e i r more t r a d i t i o n a l counterparts" (p. 177). The i n i t i a l use of a survey interview for t h i s study seemed s i m i l a r l y inappropriate u n t i l there i s a more accurate sense of the never-married m i d l i f e woman. An exploratory and q u a l i t a t i v e approach allows a feminist research model, one that values the process of the research i n 60 addition to possible conclusions or outcomes. As Charles (1987) writes, t h i s paradigm a f f e c t s the type of research problem formulated, the kinds of questions asked, the manner i n which they are asked, and the understanding of the words shared by these women. Researchers Stanley and Wise (1983) note, that with a feminist perspective, each parti c i p a n t ' s point of view i s perceived as a v a l i d source of knowledge for the researcher. Oakley (1981) describes feminist research as in t e r a c t i v e , implying a two-way process where the re l a t i o n s h i p i s esse n t i a l to the qu a l i t y of the information. When we see the term "si n g l e , " we often associate i t with young women or men — as i n the pre-yuppie l i f e s t y l e of "swinging s i n g l e ; " or we think, widowed, divorced or separated. Quantitative analysis of marital status gives us indicators and trends. In contrast, a q u a l i t a t i v e study, allows the voices behind those numbers to be heard. I t provides an opportunity to l i s t e n to the perceptions and experiences of never-married women for example. As O'Brien (1985) notes, with t h i s method there i s a de-emphasis on " f a c t s " and an emphasis on c o l l e c t i n g d e s c r i p t i v e data which help the researcher to see the world as the research subjects see i t . Qualitative research methods include p a r t i c i p a n t observation, personal documents and open-ended interviewing (Bogdan and Taylor, 1985). This study r e l i e d on open-ended interviewing. 61 The Selection of Participants The l i v e s of women interviewed for t h i s study r e f l e c t the l i v e s of Canadian-born and immigrant women born between 1932 and 1947 and currently l i v i n g within the boundaries of the Greater Vancouver Regional D i s t r i c t (Vancouver and i t s surrounding m u n i c i p a l i t i e s ) . I n i t i a l l y , I had hoped to interview as diverse a group as possible — varying ethnic backgrounds, s o c i a l classes, able-bodied and disabled, lesbian and heterosexual, native women, and so on. However, as I began discussing the study with friends, professors and professionals, i t became c l e a r that attempting to incorporate such d i v e r s i t y among only twelve women, would d i l u t e the exploration. The sample was not drawn from a p a r t i c u l a r women's organization or centre; i t was non-random and employed both s e l f - s e l e c t i o n as well as networking techniques. Notices requesting p a r t i c i p a n t s were placed i n the Vancouver Sun (the evening daily) and Kinesis (Vancouver Status of Women monthly newspaper). A notice was provided to a large c i r c u l a t i o n Vancouver community weekly, but they did not p r i n t i t . A notice was picked up by the Canadian Research I n s t i t u t e for the Advancement of Women; I posted f l y e r s , spoke to groups about the study, used networking through work, the un i v e r s i t y community and s o c i a l c i r c l e s . Women I interviewed at the beginning of the study, provided me with names of friends they had spoken to who were interested i n taking part. In addition, I was interviewed 62 on a CBC Vancouver morning program about the study, and received several l e t t e r s from women i n small towns throughout B r i t i s h Columbia. Several married women responded to the notices. No lesbian women responded to the i n i t i a l c a l l f or par t i c i p a n t s , so a second notice went out i n v i t i n g never-married lesbians to contact me. Because I decided, given the time l i m i t a t i o n of the study, to interview only twelve women, I wanted even t h i s u n representative sample to r e f l e c t differences i n sexual orien t a t i o n . While heterosexuality i s one more assumption placed on women, Raymond (1986) notes that women unconnected to men are often accused of being lesbians. I had concluded a l l the interviews when I was contacted by a woman who described herself as bisexual. I was not able to meet with her. In the beginning stages of the research, I was considering a study that would include the broad category of "si n g l e " women; that i s , never-married, divorced, separated and widowed. As I began to read, i t was evident that there were some studies on these other categories of single women and I decided at that point to narrow my research to never-married and c h i l d l e s s women. I v a c i l l a t e d regarding what age groups on which to focus and f i n a l l y chose women between 40 and 60 years of age. I wanted to interview women under 65 who were s t i l l considered work-force pa r t i c i p a n t s , since the l i t e r a t u r e indicates that long-term p a r t i c i p a t i o n supposedly contributes to a woman's f i n a n c i a l s ecurity i n old age. 63 Data C o l l e c t i o n and Analysis Data was c o l l e c t e d through face-to-face in-depth based on Patton's (1980) interview guide approach, writes: The interview guide simply serves as a basic c h e c k l i s t during the interview to make sure a l l r e l e v a n t t o p i c s are covered. The interviewer i s required to adapt both the wording and the sequence of questions to s p e c i f i c respondents i n the context of the actual interview (p.198). I developed a broad interview schedule (See Appendix A) using a compilation of several schedules (Ashfield and Shamai, 1987; Baruch et a l . , 1983; Belenky et a l . 1986; McCannell, 1988) as well as questions and topic areas indicated by the l i t e r a t u r e that would be s p e c i f i c to never-married and c h i l d l e s s women. These included: reasons for, and perceptions of, never-marrying, how sexual and intimacy needs were met, childlessness, s o c i a l contacts, views of s e l f , and work and f i n a n c i a l issues. These same general categories are evident i n the Simon and O'Brien studies mentioned e a r l i e r . Unfortunately, I did not discover these studies u n t i l I was concluding my own interviews. Simon's work had not been published and I did not uncover references to O'Brien's research u n t i l my own work was well underway. The interview guide was designed to include several major categories that would provide a framework for analysis from the words of the never-married women who were interviewed. Each woman was asked the same series of general questions accompanied interviews As Patton 64 by numerous probes depending on her in t e r e s t i n a p a r t i c u l a r category. During the f i r s t interview, I began with a question about date of b i r t h , and moved immediately to the general category of s e l f . I t became c l e a r during the probes and conversation within that category, that s e l f - d i s c l o s u r e was too int r u s i v e at the outset of the interview. In subsequent interviews, questions which may have been considered more intimate were discussed l a t e r i n the interview a f t e r greater rapport had been established. As well, within c e r t a i n categories such as personal finances and housing, women began to discuss work or family h i s t o r y ; and within the education category, finances or s e l f would be discussed. In t h i s sense, the Interview Schedule l i t e r a l l y became an interview "guide" to which I could r e f e r during the conversation. In general, the guide provided categories for analysis such as perceptions regarding m i d l i f e and aging, finances and work, and a woman's perception of her never-married status. Categories were chosen because of t h e i r l i n k s to the l i t e r a t u r e , p a r t i c u l a r l y f or example, the schedule prepared by Belenky et a l . (1987) and because of t h e i r subjective importance to me i n examining the l i v e s of never-married women. Themes within each category were analyzed as they emerged during the l i n e - b y - l i n e examination of the the t r a n s c r i p t s (Miles and Huberman, 1984; Strauss, 1987). There i s strong i n t e r n a l v a l i d i t y with t h i s approach, since the world view of the partic i p a n t s i s the basis for the data. A 65 m a j o r t h r e a t t o v a l i d i t y of c o u r s e , may be the interviewer/subject bias. Face v a l i d i t y i s good but because of the small sample, external v a l i d i t y o v e r a l l may be considered weak. What i s important i s that i t i s an attempt to f i l l i n the gaps i n information and research regarding the l i v e s of never-married women. As well, there was a strong attempt at a non-judgmental, process-oriented, conversational technique. At one stage i n the research plan, I was going to include a questionnaire as well as a number of scales: f o r example, s o c i a l support, and self-esteem. I decided against these because they seemed too in t r u s i v e to be used i n conjunction with the personal nature of the interview; as well, i t meant the analysis would be more time-consuming. A l l interviews were audio-taped with permission of the woman being interviewed. In addition, I wrote notes during the interview about what the respondent was saying, the interview s e t t i n g and mood. A l l women but one were interviewed i n t h e i r homes at a time convenient for them. I agreed to meet one woman in a west side b i s t r o / c o f f e e bar mid-afternoon, and would not recommend i t for the d i s t r a c t i o n . I borrowed a tape recorder and bought inexpensive tapes. For the most part, a l l interviews are of good q u a l i t y . Unfortunately during one of the sessions, I was so intrigued with our discussion that I taped over part of the interview. A good reason for taking notes. Before we began, each woman was asked to read, and then sign, an informed consent form (see Appendix B) . Although most women 66 signed with t h e i r f u l l signatures, those who preferred, were asked to i n i t i a l the document. The consent form outlined the scope and purpose of the research and under whose auspices i t was being conducted. Each woman was assured that her p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the interview would be held i n s t r i c t confidence. I explained that I was taping i n order to ensure the accuracy of her responses, and also so I could review them more thoroughly. I also mentioned that i f at any time she was uncomfortable with the interview, we would stop at her request. During several d i f f e r e n t interviews, the session was stopped to allow the woman to regain her composure a f t e r a p a r t i c u l a r l y d i f f i c u l t section. None of the women seemed to be aware of the taping once the interview was underway. I hired someone to transcribe the f i r s t four interviews verbatim. The expense proved too great to continue; consequently the l a s t eight interviews were not transcribed word for word. I drew a margin down one side of a long piece of paper and while I li s t e n e d to each tape I transcribed the essence of my questions i n the narrow margin, and wrote short sentences and key phrases i n the wide margin. I li s t e n e d to each tape a second time and added phrases or words to the pages I had previously written, i n order to gain as complete a sense as I could without an entire t r a n s c r i p t i o n . As mentioned previously, major categories used i n the data analysis included: r e f l e c t i o n s on m i d l i f e and aging, work l i f e , housing and f i n a n c i a l s i t u a t i o n , education, family and r e l a t i o n s h i p s , r e f l e c t i o n s on 'never-married status, s e l f , childlessness, sexual history, p o l i t i c s and s p i r i t u a l i t y . I reviewed a l l responses at lea s t s i x times, then c l a s s i f i e d and analyzed them according to these categories (Miles and Huberman, 1984; O'Brien, 1985; Strauss, 1987). From the four verbatim interviews, emerging themes and patterns were extracted to develop a system which could be used for a l l twelve interviews. For example, under the major category of m i d l i f e and aging, a consistent theme i n the four verbatim t r a n s c r i p t i o n s , and subsequently a l l interviews, was concern for the physical manifestations of age. This was consistent with the l i t e r a t u r e review which describes the double standard of aging experienced by most women. Again, under the category finances and housing, a consistent theme was that the majority of the respondents l i v e d alone i n rented accommodation. This theme corroborated the l i t e r a t u r e review which indicates that the majority of el d e r l y women l i v e alone, and w i l l require s o c i a l support. As a f i n a l example, under the category work, the o v e r a l l pattern was that each respondent had worked since her teens; nonetheless three women earned $26,000 or less and paid more than h a l f t h e i r income on rent. Six women earned $35,000 or more. Again, these themes have l i n k s with the l i t e r a t u r e which while arguing the marginality of women's economic status, at the same time indicates that women who have been continuously employed are the lea s t l i k e l y to experience poverty at m i d l i f e or l a t e r . 68 During the analysis of the interviews, some categories, for example work, finances and housing, and education were collapsed since the data were c l o s e l y related and had i n fact, tended to overlap throughout the actual face to face interviews. The categories r e l a t i n g to background and s e l f - d e s c r i p t i o n meshed i n the f i n a l analysis, as did relationships and sexual history. Womens' descriptions of t h e i r p o l i t i c a l and s p i r i t u a l views were coupled. A f t e r the categories had been collapsed, they resembled those established by O'Brien (1985) who, f o r example, also linked education and career i n one category, and the experience of aging i n another. At the outset of the study I had expected to present a synthesis of findings within the dis c r e t e categories of the interview guide. However, as I worked through the tr a n s c r i p t s toward a f i n a l analysis, the data emerged into three core codes: a woman's perceptions of m i d l i f e and aging; work; and each woman's perceptions of being never married. Interview categories fed into the three codes. This crossover and i n t e r r e l a t i o n s h i p among the core codes and categories i s i l l u s t r a t e d i n Figure I. 69 FIGURE I 70 The study has several l i m i t a t i o n s . The sample i s too small and unrepresentative of never-married women i n m i d l i f e . There i s l i t t l e ethnic d i v e r s i t y r e f l e c t e d among the twelve. In addition, they are more highly educated than the l i t e r a t u r e indicates for women i n t h e i r age groups. While three women had health problems serious enough to warrant d i s a b i l i t y pensions, most women were generally able-bodied and healthy. As mentioned previously, the cost of having four interviews transcribed, prohibited me from having a l l of them transcribed verbatim (The interviews averaged s i x t y pages each for a t o t a l cost of more than $400.00). Using a more succinct interview schedule, rather than the det a i l e d and wide-ranging instrument that was developed, would have allowed me to transcribe a l l twelve interviews f or a more detailed, r i c h e r and more varied data base. As A s h f i e l d and Shamai (1987) note regarding t h e i r research, "the nature of an exploratory study made i t d i f f i c u l t to determine which, i f any, questions should be deleted" (p. 8). 71 CHAPTER FIVE: Findings The twelve women who agreed to be interviewed were born between 1932 and 1947. The older women were children at the outset of the depression, while the younger women were born a f t e r World War II as the f i r s t wave of the baby boom. At the time of the interview, s i x respondents were between the ages of 41 and 46, while s i x were aged 50 through 56. A l l l i v e d i n Vancouver or i t s mu n i c i p a l i t i e s , although several had l i v e d i n r u r a l Canada during t h e i r childhood. Eleven women had been born outside B r i t i s h Columbia, and four were born outside Canada. Of the eight Canadian-born, seven were Caucasian and one was Asian. Three women were B r i t i s h immigrants, one of whom was born of B r i t i s h parents and raised i n Argentina. Parents of three of the women were German, Yugoslavian and Ukrainian; the parents of ha l f the respondents had immigrated to Canada. Most of the women worked i n t r a d i t i o n a l female occupations such as nursing, c l e r i c a l , or teaching, although one was a respected j o u r n a l i s t , another a c e r t i f i e d general accountant, while another was an executive i n a h i g h - p r o f i l e B r i t i s h Columbia labor union. Given the sample s i z e , t h e i r earnings were above the Canadian average for women i n the labor force. As mentioned i n Chapter Three, single women aged 45 to 54 working f u l l - t i m e f or a f u l l year, earned approximately $25,668 while women aged 55 and older earned $22,522. 72 Four women had undergraduate u n i v e r s i t y degrees, two had some univ e r s i t y , and two had degrees from a technical i n s t i t u t e . One had attended s e c r e t a r i a l college, two had completed high school and one had a grade 11 education. Three women earned $50,000 or more; of these, one had attended s e c r e t a r i a l college. One woman, i n addition to two years of university, had recently completed course work and exams to become a c e r t i f i e d general accountant (CGA) while working f u l l time; another had both a Bachelor of Commerce and was a CGA (Table 1) . Most of the parents of these women d i d not have a high school education; neither did they discourage or encourage the education of t h e i r daughters. Of the f i v e women who earned $35,000 or more, a l l had education beyond high school. Of the s i x women earning $26,000 or le s s , three were receiving a d i s a b i l i t y pension ranging from $7800 to $18,000 per annum, and a l l had education beyond high school (Table I ) . Four of the twelve women described themselves as lesbian, while eight were heterosexual. Two of the lesbians were i n a l i v e - i n monogamous rel a t i o n s h i p (with other partners not interviewed i n t h i s research). However, since homosexuals cannot marry, nor benefit from the pensions or medical plans of t h e i r partners, they are i n the eyes of the state that ascribes such lab e l s , considered never-married. The women also i d e n t i f i e d themselves as never-married. 73 Eight women l i v e d alone; a ninth woman, l i v i n g alone at the time of the interview, often shared with a roommate, not a lover. Of the nine who l i v e d alone, seven l i v e d i n rent a l accommodation. One woman l i v e d i n a lesbian-run housing cooperative. Four women owned t h e i r housing. One lesbian, l i v i n g with her partner, owns her house. Another lesbian and her partner, own a condominium. Of the two heterosexual women, one owns a duplex while the other owns a condominium (Table I I ) . 74 TABLE I Demographic Cha r a c t e r i s t i c s of Women Interviewed AGE Education Occupation Gross Income 41 Technical College Psych nurse d i s a b i l i t y pension $17,800 41 B.A. Union exec. $53,000 44 Gr. 11 Of f i c e mgr. $25,000 44 Gr. 12 Admin.asst. $24,000 45 2 yrs B.Ed CGA Accts.Super. $35,000 mid-403 B.A. Teacher pt.time wouldn't say 50 B.Comm CGA Former Accountant d i s a b i l i t y pension $18,000 52 B. Ed. Pr i n c i p a l $54,000 52 Some Univ. Tech.Dipl. Lab. super. $35,000 54 1 yr. B.A. Childcare Worker D i s a b i l i t y CPP $7800 55 I yr univ. Secretary $25,000 56 S e c r e t a r i a l J o u r n a l i s t College $50,000 75 TABLE II Demographic Ch a r a c t e r i s t i c s of Women Interviewed Year of b i r t h Sexual Orientation Housing Liv i n g Situation 1932 heterosexual rent apt. alone 1932 heterosexual rent apt. alone 1934 lesbian co-op alone 1936 lesbian owns house with partner 1936 lesbian owns condo with partner 1938 lesbian rent apt. alone 1942* heterosexual owns condo alone 1943 heterosexual rents suite alone 1944 heterosexual rents apt. alone 1947 heterosexual owns duplex alone 1947 heterosexual rents suite often shares * Estimate only, respondent was reluctant to give year of b i r t h . 76 The Emergent Core Codes The emergent core codes as discussed i n Chapter Four are: a woman's perceptions of m i d l i f e and aging; work; and each woman's pe r c e p t i o n of being never married. Each core code, as i l l u s t r a t e d i n Figure I on page 70, was fed by categories from the interview guide, and i s a synthesis of several overlapping categories and r e f l e c t s the c i r c u l a r movement of the interviews. As interviews proceeded they s h i f t e d among categories and questions. Most questions under each category tended to impinge on one or more of the three core codes. Perceptions of M i d l i f e and Aging Most of the women interviewed, regardless of age, were ambivalent about growing older, although the majority were generally content with t h e i r present ages. They expressed surprise with the m i d l i f e aging process and linked that surprise with physical changes such as grey hair, weight gain, health problems and wrinkles. Several women said they were aware of t h e i r age at work with younger colleagues, although as one 55 year old said, "I l i k e being the age I am, oddly enough." A 54-year-old lesbian stated that she i s "beginning to f e e l a l i t t l e i n v i s i b l e , " but that i n general, growing older i s not making much difference. She commented that she i s aware of l i v i n g i n an ageist society and the older she gets, the more she f e e l s i n common with a l l other women. 77 Physical changes, the most obvious sign of growing older, were d i f f i c u l t for some women: I hate looking i n the mirror sometimes. I think, i s that old person me? then other times I don't f e e l old at a l l . . . I t sounds so conceited, but I was always kind of cute. I used to get away with l o t s of things — good looks and a b i k i n i . I used to have a ce r t a i n amount of fun with that. That's history, that's gone. I t would be nice, not to be a ki d a l l the time, but not have to age or look older sometimes. I think people l i k e Elizabeth Taylor and Joan C o l l i n s are ju s t t e r r i f i c , but mind you, they've had the odd l i t t l e tuck here and there. I mean L i z i s the same age as I am, but she looks t e r r i f i c ! I think i t ' s great f o r middle age women. We are not a l l se n i l e , you know. We are very vibrant people and have a l o t to o f f e r l i f e . I'm surprised to see how d i f f e r e n t I look from the way I f e e l . I f e e l much the same, and ph y s i c a l l y f e e l better than I did i n my t h i r t i e s . But when I look i n the mirror while I'm getting dressed, I'm not that same person anymore...it's pretty hard to ignore. Over h a l f the women became acutely aware of aging through health problems such as breast and c e r v i c a l cancer scares, c r i t i c a l surgery, work i n j u r i e s , the death of friends..."with t h i s cancer scare I r e a l l y started to think about l i f e , and dying...I've a l s o changed personally i n what I want." Also, three pa r t i c i p a n t s were unable to work and were dealing with loss of income. The reasons are not s p e c i f i c a l l y age related. One woman was coping with a work-related injury and expected eventually to 78 be a b l e t o work a g a i n . She f e l t s h e w o u l d h a v e t o ch a n g e c a r e e r s s i n c e s h e was p h y s i c a l l y u n a b l e t o c o n t i n u e i n h e r m u c h - l o v e d j o b a s a p s y c h i a t r i c n u r s e . A n o t h e r was d i s a b l e d b y c h r o n i c emphysema, w h i l e a t h i r d h a d s p e n t one y e a r i n h o s p i t a l a f t e r s u r g e r y t o c o r r e c t i n t e s t i n a l p r o b l e m s , and w o u l d p r o b a b l y n o t be a b l e t o r e t u r n t o t h e work f o r c e . The breakdown o f a s i g n i f i c a n t r e l a t i o n s h i p , s a i d one woman, "gave me more f o o d f o r t h o u g h t t h a n any p a s s a g e o f t i m e . " A l l t h e women h a d b e e n p h y s i c a l l y a c t i v e , a nd many s t i l l w ere. One 5 2 - y e a r - o l d woman's a w a r e n e s s o f p h y s i c a l a g i n g i s when h e r k n e e s b o t h e r h e r a f t e r p l a y i n g s p o r t s . O n l y two women commented s p e c i f i c a l l y on s o c i e t a l p r e s s u r e s o f a g i n g . One r e m a r k e d : I t h i n k a b o u t a g i n g i n a s o c i e t y where a l l a r o u n d me I s e e a g i n g n o t b e i n g g r e a t f r o m a ny p o i n t o f v i e w . . . o l d p e o p l e d o n ' t seem welcome and I ' l l s o o n b e one o f them*. ..I'm t r y i n g t o t h i n k a b o u t what I c a n do t o i n t e r f e r e w i t h t h a t . I t h i n k i t ' s ( a g i n g ) a s o c i e t a l t h i n g . We ( t h e l e s b i a n community) c a n s t a r t l o o k i n g a t i t b e c a u s e we a l s o make o l d e r p e o p l e i n v i s i b l e . S e v e r a l women, w h i l e somewhat c o n c e r n e d a b o u t t h e a g i n g p r o c e s s , a l s o seemed p h i l o s o p h i c a l a b o u t i t : E a c h y e a r my l i f e h a s seemed b e t t e r . . . I t i s e x c i t i n g t o be g r o w i n g y e a r b y y e a r and i t i s an e x c i t i n g age. 79 I don't think there are ce r t a i n ways you have to be at a cer t a i n age. . .At t h i s age we're getting older at d i f f e r e n t stages, l i k e l i t t l e k ids... except I'm going through menopause, you've got grey h a i r . . . In general, there was an acceptance regarding the aging process however, several women worried most about t h e i r f i n a n c i a l and housing s i t u a t i o n s as they aged. One woman stated that she had " f i n a n c i a l worries more than anything, because I'm single and I have had to r e l y on myself a l l of my working l i f e . I'm a very independent person and I would not l i k e to have to depend on people." Of the women who l i v e d i n rent a l accommodation, three spent at le a s t h a l f t h e i r earnings on rent. A common theme for most women, was the a n t i c i p a t i o n of growing old alone. One woman remarked that, "I'm not that old now, but I'm alone and I think, good Lord, what i f I died i n here one day." Another said that she hoped someone was around to grow old with her. Most women mentioned that although they r e a l i z e d they were growing older, they did not f e e l p a r t i c u l a r l y d i f f e r e n t than they had i n t h e i r twenties and t h i r t i e s . They looked forward to new challenges and the older women p a r t i c u l a r l y , seemed to have grown into a s e l f confidence during t h e i r l a t e f o r t i e s and early f i f t i e s . Most f e l t t h e i r l i v e s would be much the same i n the future, although those close to retirement age appeared to antici p a t e new challenges. 80 Perceptions of Work As noted e a r l i e r , the more education a woman has, the greater chance she has of earning higher wages r e l a t i v e to other women. Most of the women with whom I spoke, had some education beyond high school and a l l of them began earning t h e i r l i v i n g when they were teenagers. Some worked part time when they were as young as twelve and most expected, even when they were younger, that they would be supporting themselves. Several women thought they would be married and therefore, not supporting themselves e n t i r e l y . Of the women earning $35,000 or more, a l l had been with the same employer for between ten and 32 years. Except for one, they also expected company pensions on retirement, although one woman mentioned that she did not hold out much hope that her pension would a c t u a l l y be there. While most of the women enjoyed t h e i r work colleagues, none f e l t she had had a mentor, or been p a r t i c u l a r l y inspired by another i n her f i e l d . Overall, most of the women found t h e i r work s a t i s f y i n g , although few c a l l e d i t a "career." Some women i n t h e i r f o r t i e s s t i l l f e l t they had options regarding changing careers; others found t h e i r work d i s s a t i s f y i n g , but did not f e e l able to change. Two women i n c l e r i c a l positions saw no prospects for change. One of these women was 55 years old, had no company pension and l i t t l e personal savings. I hope that I w i l l have enough money when I grow old and am no longer working. We do not have a pension plan where I work so I have to save and put i t toward an RRSP. I contribute every week, but I won't have a l o t when I r e t i r e . 81 I'm a secretary. I think we're a dying race. I have run the gamut from shorthand to computers. Women always t r y to underestimate t h e i r own pot e n t i a l — which i s incr e d i b l e and ju s t amazing. I think over the years I've gained a tremendous amount of knowledge through a l l the various firms I've worked for. You r e a l l y turn out to be quite a capable person but you're never r e a l l y thought of as being capable. Although most of the respondents did not f e e l that age affected t h e i r work, one woman mentioned that she was acutely aware of being older among the younger secretaries i n her firm. In contrast to the women i n both the Simon and O'Brien studies, few of the women i n t h i s study were active i n volunteer or community a c t i v i t i e s outside work. Several of the women had some savings or were beginning to save, pr i m a r i l y i n the form of RRSPs. One 52-year-old considered her house, which she had owned for nearly twenty years, to be her major investment. One 41 year old, earning $53,000 with a good company pension, had a varied investment p o r t f o l i o including her own duplex, bonds, RRSPs, and other property. She said: "I am conscious of old age so I'm planning for i t . " A few women were not concerned about the future. Remarked a 52-year-old: Money hasn't been one of my concerns. I came from extreme poverty. I've not given much thought to savings or accumulation. The idea of earning has always been so I could spend. 82 I was determined I wasn't going to depend on a man for money and that I wasn't going to be poor. I've planned to be f i n a n c i a l l y free. You know something; for the f i r s t time I would l i k e to f i n d a r i c h old man to support me so I could go back to school. ... I have to get into a budget and s t a r t saving for my future because I'm the only one who i s going to look a f t e r me. I'm s e c u r i t y conscious. One th i n g that concerns me about changing my career i s the money, because I've worked my way up to a pretty good wage. I l i k e having that money. Although I'm pretty well o f f f i n a n c i a l l y , I do worry a b i t . One woman i n her l a t e f i f t i e s , who had worked i n the same job for more that 3 0 years, f e l t she had a " t o t a l lack of preparation" regarding her f i n a n c i a l needs because she always assumed she would get married. She had a work pension which used to be compulsory for men and optional f or women. A woman on d i s a b i l i t y pension does worry about money and says she buys l o t t e r y t i c k e t s every week. Of the women whose parents are s t i l l l i v i n g , few expected to i n h e r i t anything f i n a n c i a l l y s u b s t a n t i a l . A woman i n her mid-forties, who had t r a v e l l e d and worked during her twenties and t h i r t i e s , f e l t she was l i v i n g with the consequences of that decision now. However, she loves her work as an administrative assistant i n a uni v e r s i t y department, despite the fact that i t i s low-paying. Several women who had t r a v e l l e d a great deal i n t h e i r younger years, 83 remarked that i t was always easy to get jobs i n those days. For many women, work l i f e and personal l i f e were cl o s e l y meshed. Many enjoyed t h e i r colleagues, and a l l considered themselves at the top of t h e i r respective f i e l d s . Overall, they found t h e i r work challenging and s a t i s f y i n g . None of the women nearing retirement approached i t with dread. They looked forward to t r a v e l , writing, kayaking and other sports and more time for volunteer pursuits. The women who could not depend on an adequate pension on retirement were worried about income, but talked of looking forward to more time for t h e i r own in t e r e s t s . Given the grim poverty l e v e l s predicted for unattached women l i v i n g alone, one of the questions was an attempt to e l i c i t the extent of each respondent's awareness of the issue. The responses varied. One 45 year old f e l t that the older women about whom the s t a t i s t i c s were speaking were from a d i f f e r e n t era, and that things would probably not be that way for her. She said the future had not been a worry for her, but that maybe i t should have been. I j u s t bought my f i r s t RRSP...I figure i t ' s time to get my act together, get myself organized to do i t . But up t i l now I've gone ski i n g , gone to Europe and a l l those things, and the future was just going on forever. Well, I guess that's changed a b i t , but I don't intend to be a worrier. I've got friends that are a l o t younger, who are a l o t more concerned about t h e i r old age...So I think i t ' s maybe your personal outlook. 84 Three women, two earning $35,000 or more and one on a d i s a b i l i t y pension, believed that they would l i v e much the same as they do now. Another was concerned about the s t a t i s t i c s and her own aging but was not sure what " I ' l l be able to do about i t . " One 44 year old had always believed that "something w i l l happen" to prevent her from poverty as an older woman. A 55 year old expected to l i v e "modestly, probably i n one room. Isn't that awful? But then I've never l i v e d i n a house before...I've always l i v e d i n apartments, so i t w i l l probably j u s t get smaller. Maybe my needs won't be as large, hopefully." Perceptions of Never Married Status A woman's perception of her aging process and the importance of income appeared to be cl o s e l y t i e d to her perceptions of herself as a single person. Although viewed as a d i s t i n c t category for the purposes of the study, the la b e l "never married" was not, i n a woman's l i f e , separate from her relat i o n s h i p s with family, lovers and friends, her concept of s e l f , her choices, her work and d a i l y l i f e and i t emerged as one of the three core codes. Whether consciously or unconsciously, the women I spoke with chose not to marry despite the fact that almost h a l f thought they would get married or, that i t was expected of them by t h e i r f a m i l i e s . I am the only woman i n the family who hasn't picked up that you have to have a man to be f u l f i l l e d , or to be a woman, or to be a happy person. 85 I thought I would get married one day, and everything would be looked a f t e r . That's what people think you know. I've never thought of myself as sin g l e . I am a single person...maybe i t ' s something I've l i v e d with for so long that I'm not aware of i t any longer. Marriage was expected. I thought I'd go out and get married and l i v e h a p p i l y ever a f t e r . . . I t was taken for granted when you grew up...you j u s t grew up and got married. I t wasn't a conscious d e c i s i o n not to marry... I wouldn't change i t now. At one time I probably thought i t was s t i l l the thing to do...My mother ran around saying, " I t ' s not that she hasn't been asked." I thought i t was something I should do, rather than what I wanted. Now I'm too used to being on my own. Each of the twelve part i c i p a n t s expressed i n one way or the other, the value she placed on her independent l i f e . Many chose the word "freedom." Freedom, or a sense of personal autonomy, and the theme of loneliness, are often interwoven. Being able to do what I want, when I want and not having to answer to anybody. That's the greatest. I can take up and go any time I want. I love to come i n and shut that door and there's nobody here to bug you i f you've had a bad day at work. You're free and you can do what you want...I'd l i k e t o have a re l a t i o n s h i p with somebody but i f i t ' s not going to add something to my l i f e , why bother. I have been the old maid i n my family since I was 18...of a l l the women, everyone had married by 18. I value my independence but i f someone came along I f e l t l i k e marrying someday, sure... I know what I want i n a rel a t i o n s h i p and I won't s a c r i f i c e f or i t and that made me end up single for most of my l i f e . . . t h a t ' s okay. I l i k e being by myself. There's no way I want to get married j u s t f o r 86 the sake of having someone around. I've met no one that I've had the desire to marry and I have no desire to be i n a re l a t i o n s h i p . I can close the door on the world when I want to. I can pick and choose i n a way. (There are) c e r t a i n plusses about not having to answer to anybody...There are times when I get lonely...not being able to t a l k with someone ri g h t now, when I need to. I don't miss marriage...don't think I'd be very good i n a marriage...would l i k e j u s t now, someone who's a companion, who w i l l give me love and a f f e c t i o n i n a monogamous s i t u a t i o n . I'm t i r e d of people being non-committal... I prefer being single, f e e l i t ' s the r i g h t state f o r me and I'm more comfortable with i t . I was going to get married and i t f e l l through. When that horror passed, I was relieved. I have the freedom to do what I want. I can come home and close the door on the world and don't have to think about anyone else. But that i s the other thing, I'm t i r e d of not having anyone else to think about. Two heterosexual women had regrets about not marrying and about not having children. However, l i k e the others, they were ambivalent about reli n q u i s h i n g t h e i r freedom and privacy. Of the four lesbians interviewed, three had had s i g n i f i c a n t r e l a t i o n s h i p s with men i n t h e i r l a t e teens and early twenties. The fourth had considered marrying for what she termed, " r e s p e c t a b i l i t y . " One lesbian who had had a s i g n i f i c a n t r e l a t i o n s h i p with a man when she was younger and who "came out" when she was 40 years old said: I don't know how I didn't get married. I didn't know I was a lesbian and didn't know anyone who was. A l o t of women believe they need to have a man. I never believed that. Never. I thought I should. A l o t of my younger friends are never married and when they heard 87 you were coming today one said, " T e l l her I'm i n t r a i n i n g . " I don't know many women my age (54) who haven't married...in my generation everybody got married. A 52-year-old lesbian, who had been i n a 24-year relationship, said: I'm b a s i c a l l y very happy...I don't know i f i t ' s because I've never married. I've been able to do more of what I believe because I've been si n g l e . I've never regretted not marrying i n the t r a d i t i o n a l sense, although I wanted a long-term r e l a t i o n s h i p . The respondents were most often the only never-married women in t h e i r f a m i l i e s , although one woman mentioned that several cousins of her generation had also not married. One woman said she f e e l s envied by some i n her family. She has been t o l d by her niece i n B r i t a i n that other r e l a t i v e s think, "Auntie i s the smartest one of a l l of them..." because she hasn't married. On the other hand, she has also been t o l d , "You have to get married, you make the family untidy." A c t i v i t i e s such as eating i n a restaurant or going to a movie alone were d i f f i c u l t for some women, and several mentioned the d i f f i c u l t y they found i n a "world of couples" where single women, more than single men, were often shunned. I don't regret being never married, but the world i s made up of couples. Women aren't included nearly as often as couples or single men (in s o c i a l situations)...When people f i n d out you've never been married, they almost do a double-take. They assume I'm divorced. 88 The world i s s t i l l a couple world. There are a few couples I s o c i a l i z e with when i t ' s okay to have a single person around. While one pa r t i c i p a n t had not thought of hers e l f as single, another woman related that: Even when I was l i v i n g with G. I s t i l l considered my s e l f s i n g l e . I'm a single person...I don't know how people who have been married can go back to c a l l i n g themselves singl e again. I t seems to me that I've never been anything else. The above comment was not unique. The afternoon that the request for p a r t i c i p a n t s appeared i n The Vancouver Sun. I received several c a l l s . One woman t o l d me how moved she was to see that someone was taking an in t e r e s t i n her l i f e . Although she d e c l i n e d to p a r t i c i p a t e , she said that j u s t seeing the announcement lessened what she described as her i s o l a t i o n . Soon a f t e r , another woman c a l l e d . She was extremely animated and was interested i n the study. She was i n her mid f i f t i e s and hoped to p a r t i c i p a t e . "I should t e l l you something," she said. "I've been married. I t was only for eight years though. Does that count?" Several women who had been married at a young age, and/or for a short time, also expressed an i n t e r e s t i n being interviewed because they " f e l t " never married. Some of the partic i p a n t s described f e e l i n g most single during c e r t a i n events such as family weddings, holidays and funerals where others seemingly had the support or companionship of an intimate partner. Several women mentioned New Year's Eve as the 89 time they f e l t most alone. For most of the respondents, these experiences appeared to be outweighed by the desire to maintain t h e i r independence. Most of the respondents had d i f f i c u l t y discussing or describing themselves. One woman became quite agitated when t r y i n g to describe what had been important, or what had stood out for her i n the l a s t few years. Nothing. I f e e l l i k e I've been on hold for the l a s t few years...I r e a l l y haven't made any serious changes i n the l a s t few years. Nothing i s important. She had always seen herself as more daring and assertive. Now i n her mid-forties, she was c r i t i c a l of her s e l f for not having had a plan... "I never knew what I was going to do, so I guess I'm doing i t . " Reaching m i d l i f e , coupled with what she considered a dead-end job, was a major turning point and one that she considered frightening at times. She had always envisioned t r a v e l l i n g , which she did extensively during her twenties and early t h i r t i e s , but as f a r as what she thought she would l i k e to be when she grew up, she said she had no d i r e c t i o n regarding career opportunities. Af t e r her father's death when she was 13, she and her s i s t e r s were obliged to take s e c r e t a r i a l courses i n school rather than prepare for university, because there was no money. Another woman, ten years older than the previous respondent, saw h e r s e l f as more emotional than when she was as a younger 90 woman...111 cry at ce r t a i n pieces of music now. . .Things people do for one another tend to move me more than they used to. Kindness, generosity, the l i t t l e things i n l i f e . " She believed she had wasted a l o t of time i n her l i f e , and f e l t she was not a "go-getter". She longed for what she described as "just something completely d i f f e r e n t from what I have been doing a l l my l i f e . " She wanted to "turn the record over on the other s i d e . " She d e s c r i b e d h e r s e l f as independent and "quite charming," and said she didn't used to l i k e h e r s e l f . She did not remember wanting to be anything i n p a r t i c u l a r as she grew up..."As long as I grew up happily married and l i v e d happily ever a f t e r . " Each respondent's experience of herself had s h i f t e d during m i d l i f e . While aging was a s i g n i f i c a n t experience, and was considered a major turning point for most women, one said she now found her world a more comfortable place. Most f e l t more accepting of themselves and more self-assured. While completing a rigorous C e r t i f i e d General Account program was a s i g n i f i c a n t turning point for one woman, she did not consider that her l i f e had changed i n m i d l i f e . She described he r s e l f as not tending to be introspective and saw herself as " b a s i c a l l y very p o s i t i v e i n my atti t u d e to things...I don't seem to expect a l o t more of l i f e than whatever happens. I seem to kind of r o l l with i t . " She considered family and friends to be the most important things i n her l i f e . Like other respondents, she remarked that notions of what she wanted to be as an adult changed from her teen years 91 into young adulthood, but she was not aware of the various options ava i l a b l e to her regarding work or career. I see myself as a f a i r l y strong woman and a good f r i e n d . I've had a pretty good l i f e and am a l o t more grounded and aware. I f e e l better about myself...I've had a good time. I f e e l I'm going through some r e a l l y b i g changes — l i k e what I'm going to do with my l i f e . I thought I should've had that figured out by now...I'm t r y i n g to be easier on myself... f e e l i n g more p o s i t i v e . . . I think i t ' s a p i t y I haven't quite l i k e d myself when I was younger because my l i f e could have taken a d i f f e r e n t turn. One woman f e l t that her greatest drawback over the years had been a lack of confidence. Four women had seen, or were s t i l l seeing, a therapist and found that the experience had helped them come to terms with personal issues. Other women had been to a career counsellor for assistance i n possible career changes. A major turning point i n r e l a t i o n to s e l f was, for two women in the study, the end of a 24 year r e l a t i o n s h i p they had had with one another. As an interviewer, I was struck by the candor and openness with which these women r e f l e c t e d on t h e i r l i v e s . At the time of the interview, both had been l i v i n g with younger women for approximately three years. The woman I interviewed f i r s t , mentioned that her former partner might be interested i n p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n the study, and contacted her a f t e r our interview. 92 The f i r s t p a r t i c i p a n t f e l t that a remarkable re v e l a t i o n f o r her, was that she did not have to be perfect. Previously, she said, she could not understand how people l e f t r e l a t i o n s h i p s . Then, "when I did leave I couldn't believe I was capable of hurting another person. I t gave me a picture of myself that was hard to accept." Her former partner said the end of the rel a t i o n s h i p came as a "r e a l shock". She was "humbled by the experience" and was angry and resentful at being thrust into " t h i s new r o l e . " She was angry at being " j o l t e d into another stage of l i f e I didn't want." Pr i o r to the break-up..."I knew nothing about myself, about being gay. I knew I wasn't ashamed of i t but I was uncomfortable because I didn't know what to do." She said she had never r e a l l y acknowledged her long-term r e l a t i o n s h i p because she did not want anyone to know about i t . Both women described being "closeted" regarding t h e i r lesbian r e l a t i o n s h i p . They did not f e e l there had been opportunities to meet and s o c i a l i z e with other gay couples. They had had an extra bedroom i n t h e i r home so that others who v i s i t e d them would not know about t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p . Since the d i s s o l u t i o n of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p , both s o c i a l i z e more with lesbian friends and appear to accepted t h e i r lesbianism i n a deeper way than i n t h e i r twenties. Most of the women discussed t h e i r sexual l i v e s and the need for intimacy and companionship with considerable frankness. At the time of the interview, f i v e women described themselves as sexually active; t h i s included two heterosexual women and two 93 lesbians. Of these f i v e , four were i n t h e i r f i f t i e s . Three women were c e l i b a t e and three were occasionally sexually active. One woman declined to comment. One heterosexual woman had been ce l i b a t e by choice since 1982: I have no desire for a rel a t i o n s h i p and no desire f o r sex without a re l a t i o n s h i p . A lesbian commented that she never was highly sexual even when she thought she was "str a i g h t . " Her longest r e l a t i o n s h i p , when she was i n her twenties, was with a man. She does not consider h e r s e l f sexually active, but says she has her intimacy needs met through her friends. She was the only woman who said she masturbated. Women commented that t h e i r sexual l i v e s were very d i f f e r e n t now than when they were younger. I t ' s not that I grew up i n the swinging s i x t i e s . I grew up i n the period when there was no sex l i f e . Seriously. None. Nice g i r l s did not do that. Then I went r i g h t into the single-woman-with-birth-control and the whole thing. Now I'm back to square one. I'm not out there to play. I t ' s a l o t more meaningful. I t has a d i f f e r e n t sort of meaning now. I t ' s a l o t more fun, too. Aside from three of the lesbians who had had long-term re l a t i o n s h i p s of between twelve and 24 years, only three heterosexual women had l i v e d with t h e i r sexual partners for more than four years. Most relationships lasted between three and 94 nine years. Two had never l i v e d with t h e i r sexual partners and had gone through periods of celibacy. Of the four heterosexuals who said they were currently i n relationships, three women were involved i n on-going relationships with married men at the time of the interview, and did not consider themselves p a r t i c u l a r l y sexually active. One woman, currently i n a re l a t i o n s h i p with a married man, indicated that she would l i k e to l i v e with him. I t (the relationship) s u i t s me, but i f i t was ever possible that he could get out of h i s rela t i o n s h i p , I would love to l i v e with him. I don't care i f I ever marry him... i t doesn't r e a l l y bother me. But I think of a l l the men I've met, I'd j u s t love to l i v e with him. One woman saw her lover every few months because he l i v e d out of the country, while another had to wait for her lover to contact her because she could not c a l l him at home. The lesbians tended to have had fewer sexual relationships when they were younger. Of the two women currently i n rela t i o n s h i p s , both l i v e d with younger women and considered themselves very sexually active. Aging does not a f f e c t her sex l i f e at a l l , commented one woman. She considers h e r s e l f to have a great deal of intimacy, as well as a great sexual r e l a t i o n s h i p . One lesbian mentioned she i s comfortable with her sexuality f o r the f i r s t time. A heterosexual woman commented that she was "a b i t of a la t e s t a r t e r because you grew up, you got married and then you had sex." In describing the l i f e of a rel a t i o n s h i p she i s i n the process of ending, she said: ...as long as i t ' s a two-way street, I'm fi n e , i t doesn't bother me. I enjoy i t and i t ' s r e a l l y fun. But i f i t comes to the point, which i t does every once i n awhile, that I f e e l taken advantage of or taken for granted, then i t doesn't work. I ju s t cut i t o f f . Intimacy appeared to be more important to women than having an active sex l i f e . I f intimacy included sex, that was a bonus. I think I'm more of a romantic person, and I think I get frustrated with B. because he's not romantic enough. I think I should be get t i n g flowers regularly and s t u f f l i k e that...that doesn't happen. He's a p r a c t i c a l , p r a c t i c a l person who, a f t e r he hasn't seen me for a couple of months, a f t e r the hugs and kisses at the airp o r t , says, "Well, okay, that's f i n e . " And I'm going, "Wait a minute, wait a minute, carry on for a few!...I'm huggy and touchy and his idea i s a pat on the hand! As you get older i t ' s not the sexual side of the r e l a t i o n s h i p so much as the a f f e c t i o n and hugs...This i s more important than anything, e s p e c i a l l y when l i v i n g alone. Most women experienced t h e i r f i r s t sexual encounter i n t h e i r early twenties and described themselves as sexually active during t h e i r twenties and t h i r t i e s . The heterosexual women met men through work, friends, at clubs and while t r a v e l l i n g . Several described having "one night stands." Aside from not wanting to engage i n casual sexual encounters i n the way they did when they were younger, now said one 44 year old, " I t ' s just too crazy out there." Two heterosexual women mentioned AIDS as a major factor i n not wanting casual sexual re l a t i o n s h i p s . One lesbian said she " f i n a l l y did i t " (with a man) when she was 23, 9 6 because she was curious. Of the women who discussed children, only two regret not having had a c h i l d . One woman thought she might regret i t at some point. Four women became pregnant before m i d l i f e . Two ca r r i e d t h e i r pregnancies to term and placed the babies for adoption. Both had wanted to have abortions but the pregnancies were considered too far along. Even when we played house I was the Aunt who came to v i s i t . I was never the mother. I knew I wasn't going to do that one. One thing I regret i s never having children. I f I was ten years younger I would probably r e a l l y consider i t . But i t wasn't done 15 years ago and then you get too old to do i t . Whether or not I would have done i t , I don' t know, because there are pros and cons...but I r e a l l y regret not having children. I guess because I never married, I never had chil d r e n . I desperately wanted a c h i l d and would have had one at 40. Guess i t was in d i c a t i v e that time was running out...I t r i e d around that time. . .That was the only time I wanted a c h i l d . . .maybe because I was i n love with the man I was going with. I've always worked with children and didn't f e e l I needed one of my own. I don't regret i t . Pregnancy would have been worse than lesbianism to my parents. 9 7 As i l l u s t r a t e d i n the work of Belenky et a l . each of the women stressed the importance of relationships i n her l i f e . For while independence was valued, friends, lovers, and family were ce n t r a l . Some described t h e i r friends as family, and one woman c a l l e d her clos e s t friends "water" family, as opposed to "blood" r e l a t i v e s . Another woman said she "nurtured" her network of women friends that she had known since high school. There was no pattern to the duration of friendships or as to the types of friends, although most women tended to spend l e i s u r e time with single women friends. None of the so-called support networks was extensive, and many women had close friends i n other parts of the country. Most women found that r e l a t i o n s h i p s that had affected them s i g n i f i c a n t l y had been those with sexual partners. Family played an important r o l e i n the l i v e s of most women regardless of i t s p o s i t i v e or negative impact, and each woman's family background was unique. For some women family members were among t h e i r most important rela t i o n s h i p s . I think family i s important...I have kind of extended family as well. I guess over the y e a r s I have been adopted by o t h e r f a m i l i e s . . .We are not related at a l l , but i t i s sort of one big family...I think that i t i s important that people have family. I f you get on with them, so much the better. Maybe because I don't have that many ( l e f t i n the family), i t ' s important. Eleven women had s i b l i n g s , and there was no pattern to the b i r t h order of the par t i c i p a n t s . Many women mentioned that t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s with s i b l i n g s were becoming more intimate as they 98 aged. Only three women reported f e e l i n g close to t h e i r mothers. One woman who had not been close to her mother, nonetheless took care of her before she died so that she would not have to be i n s t i t u t i o n a l i z e d . She f e l t obliged to do t h i s when no one else i n the family would, and said that she cared for her mother as a "human being," not because the woman was her mother. Of those with one or more parents s t i l l l i v i n g , several women expected, or intended to be, caregivers. Most mothers had worked f u l l t i m e or part-time at some point during t h e i r daughters 1 l i v e s as clerks, chambermaids, and telephone operators. One was a p r o s t i t u t e . The respondents' fathers had worked as fishermen, shopkeepers, factory workers, farmers, accountants, and career s o l d i e r s . Six women l o s t t h e i r fathers through death or desertion when they were children or young teenagers. In addition, the mother of one woman l e f t the marriage and took her daughter to another province; while another woman l o s t her mother when she was 18. Women grew up.on farms, i n small towns, or i n urban centres. Many described growing up i n poverty or as children of single mothers who had a d i f f i c u l t time f i n a n c i a l l y . While some women described happy, nurturing, or uneventful childhoods, many described a time of disruption. Four women talked about being sexually abused as small children — one by her father; two by a stepfather or mother's boyfriend, and one by the caretaker of her apartment bu i l d i n g . A 50 year-old lesbian said that "she couldn't stand men" a f t e r being sexually abused by her stepfather. Another woman described her feelings nearly 50 years a f t e r the abuse: The f i r s t time i t happened... I had a dream that night and i t ' s a dream I have never forgotten. I t ' s funny, i t ' s been years and years...A door was closing...I s t i l l remember what the t i l e s were l i k e and there was a door closing...You never forget these things. I t ' s funny because you're so l i t t l e and I have great empathy because t h i s c h i l d abuse i s j u s t h o r r i b l e . I t stays with you for the res t of your l i f e , i t r e a l l y does. Other childhood trauma included a woman•s experience during World War II, of being evacuated from London as a small c h i l d and separated from her family for f i v e years. One woman said, "I was simply, not raised." She and her s i b l i n g s were l e f t to t h e i r own devices i n r u r a l Manitoba when t h e i r mother became an al c o h o l i c and p r o s t i t u t e . Most women seemed to have come to terms with t h e i r f a m i l i e s . As they aged,- a greater understanding and acceptance of t h e i r parents emerged. For those women whose parents were s t i l l l i v i n g , many enjoyed the relationship, while others maintained a f r i e n d l y , but distant a l l i a n c e . Regarding the p o l i t i c a l perspective of the par t i c i p a n t s , a preconception I had when beginning t h i s study was that most of the respondents would have some analysis of themselves as women within society. Because I was p a r t i c u l a r l y interested i n s o c i a l p o l i c y a f f e c t i n g aging women, questions and probes under the major category p o l i t i c a l views, were an attempt to draw out what 100 p o l i c i e s s p e c i f i c to aging women, the respondents thought p r o v i n c i a l and federal governments should implement. Nine of the twelve women said they were " l e f t - l e a n i n g " and/or voted for the New Democratic Party. This may be another i n d i c a t i o n of the unrepresentative sample, although the union executive interviewed for the study, mentioned that research she has seen, i l l u s t r a t e s that most women tend to be more " l e f t " than men on many issues. However, few of the respondents had p o l i t i c a l opinions or thoughts regarding the d i r e c t i o n and focus of s o c i a l p o l i c y toward women i n general, or themselves i n p a r t i c u l a r . Of those women who ventured an opinion, most believed that p o l i c i e s s p e c i f i c to aging women should include wage and pension reform; a major issue f or one woman was violence against women. I would say I am a lightweight i n the sense that I don't take p o l i t i c s very seriously. I t a l l depends. I'm much more interested i n foreign a f f a i r s I guess, because I l i v e d abroad so much, than I am i n c i v i l p o l i t i c s . I don't belong to any p o l i t i c a l party but I think I am a l i b e r a l more than anything else. A l l my f r i e n d s a r e NDPers which i s in t e r e s t i n g . Women should get the same wage as the average man. A few months ago I heard of a group...of women i n Calgary or Edmonton; they are m i d l i f e or older and they are forming together to address to the government, the i n e q u a l i t i e s that e x i s t between men and women when they r e t i r e . . . I don't know, but I think given the fact that women don't earn as much as men do, i t w i l l be on the back burner for a long, long time unless women get organized and bring pressure to bear. 101 (I'm) s t r o n g new Democrat. I've always supported and always worked but I've never joined... I don't know, but there's going to be a group of women pretty soon, and I'm probably going to be one of them... there's j u s t not going to be any need for us anymore. I wonder what we're going to do. (These) jobs have always created other jobs, but they're so specia l i z e d . . . I would be w i l l i n g to work t i l 55 and l e t somebody have my job. Just give me a decent salary so I can plan a decent retirement. That's i t . I'm not going to f i g h t t h i s 65 retirement age. I'm going to be long gone. But you know, unless I'm paid something decent i n the meantime, that's i t , I can't a f f o r d i t . So maybe I w i l l have to end up fi g h t i n g for my job. One woman said she considered h e r s e l f so ignorant that she couldn't answer a question about p o l i c i e s regarding aging women. "I bury my head i n the sand," she re p l i e d . Another respondent said she hadn't thought of i t (policy) only i n terms of women, but more toward the aging population generally. However, she mentioned, "I know women are closer to the poverty l i n e . " One woman with a strong union background noted that: I've been becoming more aware of women i n the power structures. Women i n the labor movement are s t i l l the same as women elsewhere. I t ' s okay i f they want to stay at a ce r t a i n l e v e l , but i f they want to get further than that, there's trouble;. . .We• re looking at pay equity and have an active women's committee, but we've r a r e l y had much membership input on women's issues. Although an NDP supporter, one woman said she did not put a l o t of time and energy into the party. Her primary p o l i c y issue was violence against a l l women. Another NDP supporter f e l t that 102 p o l i c i e s s p e c i f i c to older women should concern themselves with pension reform because pensions were too low. However, she did not expect that a p o l i t i c a l party would get much support for i n i t i a t i n g p o l i c i e s for women. When asked i f she belonged to any group that dealt with p o l i t i c a l issues or causes, one woman laughed and re p l i e d , "Weight Watchers!" Only one woman, a lesbian, described h e r s e l f as feminist. None of the respondents took part i n any organized r e l i g i o n , and only two women tended to r e f l e c t on what might be c a l l e d t h e i r s p i r i t u a l or inner l i v e s . Toward the end of the interview, women were asked why they decided to p a r t i c i p a t e i n the study. Two women remarked: I guess everybody ignores us and here somebody was interested. I was ju s t curious to see what kind of questions you'd ask...and I guess i t surprises me that I'm here at t h i s age. I was interested, and r e a l i z e d that most of the people I know are i n rel a t i o n s h i p s . Talking to you, I f i n d myself looking at things I never r e a l l y questioned. 103 CHAPTER SIX: Summary and Conclusions The goal of t h i s current study was to examine the content of the interviews to f i n d patterns or themes i n the h i s t o r i e s of the women and t h e i r movement through m i d l i f e . I t was also an attempt to determine i f these never-married women now i n m i d l i f e , would possibly have d i f f e r e n t futures than current unattached old women portrayed by the s t a t i s t i c s . Within t h e i r own families, most of the respondents were the only women i n t h e i r generation who did not marry. As mentioned e a r l i e r , Simon (1987) believes that the numbers of never-married women are increasing, and hence, that i t i s important to investigate the experience of women who choose single l i f e . The exploratory research described i n t h i s study focussed on the thoughts and experiences of twelve never-married m i d l i f e women between the ages of 41 and 56, both heterosexual and lesbian, l i v i n g i n Vancouver and area. Since l i t t l e i n t e r e s t has been paid to t h i s group, a q u a l i t a t i v e approach, using a semi-structured interview guide enabled the women to t a l k and r e f l e c t about t h e i r l i v e s i n t h e i r own words. Through the voices of the twelve women interviewed, t h i s study has attempted to increase our knowledge about a neglected population. I t i l l u s t r a t e s that never-married women i n mi d l i f e are diverse; that generalizations from studies of men and married m i d l i f e women with children are not enough; that 104 generalizations regarding a woman's marital status and sexual or i e n t a t i o n are not enough; that s o c i a l p o l i c i e s of most importance to never-married m i d l i f e women as they age must include wage and pension reforms. Although I could f i n d no evidence of research s p e c i f i c to never-married m i d l i f e women, t h i s study supported many of the findings of two research studies on never-married o ld women. For example, i n O'Brien's study of f i f t e e n old Canadian women, the majority l i v e d alone and nearly a l l were s a t i s f i e d with t h e i r friendships and with l i f e i n general. Most of her respondents had also achieved the highest l e v e i of education avai l a b l e i n Prince Edward Island at that time, although t h e i r career choices were more overtly influenced by t h e i r families than the women i n t h i s current study who tended to leave the country or area i n which they had grown up. O'Brien also asked her respondents why they had not married. None of them indicated that, at any point i n t h e i r l i v e s they had made a conscious decision to remain s i n g l e . Most had the opportunity to marry but i t did not seem to be an important goal i n any of t h e i r lives...The impression that emerges i s that, as young women, marriage was considered an acceptable choice by the study p a r t i c i p a n t s but t h a t most were reluctant to re l i n q u i s h t h e i r independence and were, i n any case, s a t s i f e d with t h e i r l i v e s as single women (p. 48) . In contrast, 48 out of the 50 old women i n Simon's study chose to remain single throughout t h e i r l i v e s " f o r the purpose of preserving t h e i r independence or out of commitment to careers" 105 (p. 34). The old women i n both the Simon and O'Brien study worked i n t r a d i t i o n a l female occupations and found work was important as a source of income and s e l f - i d e n t i t y . Old women interviewed by both O'Brien and Simon, were reluctant to discuss t h e i r sexual l i v e s , and there was c e r t a i n l y no mention of lesbianism even i f some women l i v e d together. In a l e t t e r to me Dr. O'Brien wrote: "I did not think at the time to ask about sexual preference and have been asked by others quite often about t h i s " (M. O'Brien, personal communication, September 8, 1988). While s t a t i s t i c s i l l u s t r a t e a t e r r i f y i n g future f or female e l d e r l y — 31 percent of women over 65 l i v e at, or below, the poverty l i n e — the study supports e x i s t i n g research which suggests that education and long-term employment are factors i n reducing poverty among women. Because most of the never-married may not have had many interruptions to t h e i r labor force p a r t i c i p a t i o n , they may, depending on economic c l a s s , be i n less danger of poverty i n t h e i r old age than divorced or widowed women. While the study c e r t a i n l y i l l u s t r a t e s the d i v e r s i t y even of t h i s small sample, a s i g n i f i c a n t commonality among the par t i c i p a n t s i s how l i t t l e consideration many of them gave to future income and retirement planning. Although each woman had worked f u l l t i m e since she was i n her teens, only one had both savings and investments, as well as a pension. While t h i s may not appear to be a s t a r t l i n g conclusion, the implications thread 106 through the l i t e r a t u r e presented i n t h i s study. Being able to support he r s e l f and not depend on anyone else was v i t a l , although often d i f f i c u l t . I t i s of in t e r e s t then, that while not wanting to depend on anyone else, most of the women i n the study seemed not to have done much long-range planning. Most enjoyed t h e i r work and the c o l l e g i a l i t y i t provided. Five women i n t h i s study earned between $10,000 and $2 0,000 more than the average earnings outlined f or t h e i r age group by S t a t i s t i c s Canada. The earnings may r e f l e c t the unrepresentative sample of Caucasian women who hold more so-called professional jobs. I t may also point to the long-term employment with a p a r t i c u l a r organization by several of the women. The income of the three women i n c l e r i c a l positions i s closer to the s t a t i s t i c a l average for women i n t h e i r age group. Several p a r t i c i p a n t s had worked t h e i r way through the ranks of t h e i r professions; others had t r a v e l l e d considerably as young women, and had immigrated to Canada a f t e r l i v i n g i n d i f f e r e n t parts of the world. Even though the women i n the study have never married, some of the heterosexual women i n p a r t i c u l a r , do not seem to have escaped the not-so-subtle conditioning of most women — that of our i n t e r n a l i z e d oppression, coupled with s o c i e t a l or, external oppression. Simon noted that some of the women i n her study had " f u l l y and u n c r i t i c a l l y i n t e r n a l i z e d the notion that normal women marry" (p. 12). They f e l t the "deviancy" of t h e i r marital status. In other words, many of the women seem to have 107 i n t e r n a l i z e d t he e x t e r n a l s o c i e t a l s t e r e o t y p e s about "spinsters," and about women i n general. As the Simon and O'Brien studies i l l u s t r a t e , by merely being single, women challenge society that has p a r t i c u l a r roles set aside f o r them. Perhaps the mothers of single daughters sense t h e i r daughters' deviancy, and fear for them. In t h i s study, t h e i r admonitions to avoid pregnancy outside legitimate marriage may be stronger than one mother's admonition against lesbianism. For decades, feminist voices have been raised i n support of marital options; marriage however, as noted i n the l i t e r a t u r e s t i l l appears to be at the "top of the moral ladder to God." Despite t h e i r independence, there i s an echo through the interviews, p a r t i c u l a r l y those with heterosexual women, of a tyranny against themselves for not having married, that somehow never-married women are not taken seriously i n the world, they are not seen as adults and hence, do not take themselves seriously. When asked what her advice would be to younger women, for example, one woman mused: If you t a l k about a choice and I say I wouldn't necessarily recommend the single l i f e , that's not necessarily to say i t ' s not been r i g h t for me. I don't know that i t ' s the ide a l way. I would hope for my nieces and god-daughters that they'd get married. Don't ask me why, I j u s t f e e l i t would be better i f they did. I'm going to have to think about that afterwards — why I f e e l that way. Is i t a stereotype, that i t j u s t seems a better way of l i f e , a more valued l i f e ? 108 I t appears that both men (single or married) and the employers of men, make provisions for t h e i r old age through pensions, insurance, and higher income. As one of the women i n the study mentioned, her employer used to provide compulsory pensions for men, and optional pensions for women. O'Brien (1985) remarks that during her research with never-married old women, "some insight was gained into p e r s o n a l i t i e s of the study p a r t i c i p a n t s and the motivating forces that guided them i n t h e i r l i v e s " (p. 49). One impression she gained was that the women were not generally s e l f - r e f l e c t i v e regarding t h e i r own l i v e s . She writes: Most of the interviewees f e l t they had, i n t h e i r l i v e s , l e t nature take i t s course...This could have been a very p r a c t i c a l philosophy i n a s o c i a l environment where assertive behavior by women may not have been rewarded. Those who f e l t t h i s way may have underestimated t h e i r own influence on the course of t h e i r l i v e s (p. 50) . A common thread i n t h i s study was that none of the women was p a r t i c u l a r l y encouraged to pursue education a f t e r high school and many said they had been unaware of career options. Despite t h i s , nine of the respondents had a un i v e r s i t y or technical degree, which was above average for most women i n t h e i r age group. While a l l the women had worked most of t h e i r l i v e s , those with education beyond high school tended to have higher incomes. The study supports the l i t e r a t u r e which argues that education, occupation and "marital careers" are determinants of women's economic s i t u a t i o n . 109 As the women talked about t h e i r early l i v e s , i t appears that most of them encountered major disruptions through the death or desertion of t h e i r fathers, and through instances of sexual and physical abuse. While most of them seemed to have come to terms with t h e i r families and childhood, t h i s i s i n sharp contrast to the older p a r t i c i p a n t s i n O'Brien's study whose image of childhood i s one of "security, harmonious family l i f e with a cle a r separation of parental r o l e . " Despite t h i s , several women in the current study describe close f a m i l i a l t i e s and support and c o n s i d e r f a m i l y r e l a t i o n s h i p s — including parents, s i b l i n g s , nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles — i n t e g r a l to t h e i r l i v e s . Since the study's focus was never-married m i d l i f e women, t h i s issue was c e n t r a l . As i n the O'Brien study mentioned above, none of the women indicated that they had made a conscious decision not t o marry. Most, i n c l u d i n g the l e s b i a n s , had had opportunities to marry, and many had been engaged. Each woman indicated the central importance of her independence and perhaps, that factor over time, became the choice not to marry. Unless a never-married woman i s economically free, her independence i s ine x t r i c a b l y linked with her a b i l i t y to work for that independence and hence, to remain single. A woman who does not want to depend on anyone else — parents, husband, children — must be able to support he r s e l f for her en t i r e l i f e . A l l of the women interviewed for t h i s study, including those who appeared to r e g r e t having never married, valued t h e i r 110 independence above a l l else. At mi d l i f e , none saw he r s e l f as a future poverty s t a t i s t i c because she was unattached. This optimism i s more r e a l i s t i c f or those who were to be the re c i p i e n t of pension income on retirement, or for the few who had savings. Interestingly, some women said they were single because they had tended to be attracted to the wrong kind of man, or, they were continually involved with married men. Women wanted personal independence coupled with intimacy which may or may not include sex. Many mentioned that, while they do not regret being single, they also wanted intimacy and companionship. During the course of t h i s study I p a r t i c i p a t e d i n two workshops f o r m i d l i f e women and had countless informal discussions with friends and colleagues about m i d l i f e . One workshop was s p e c i f i c a l l y termed "Women i n M i d l i f e ; " the other was for m i d l i f e daughters and t h e i r aging parents. Both were e x p e r i e n t i a l , not l e c t u r e s regarding women's l i v e s . The experiences of the women involved i n the f i r s t workshop p a r a l l e l the experiences of women outlined i n the l i t e r a t u r e and interview section of t h i s current study. Regarding the aging process, most women were "grieving" the loss of t h e i r younger bodies, t h e i r energy l e v e l s , and coming to terms with the i n v i s i b i l i t y of older women i n society. Many consciously "camouflaged" t h e i r age with the use of make-up, ha i r color, surgery. One woman claimed she was not about to l e t age get the better of her. Her l i v e l i h o o d depended on being able to work. I f she looked older, she would lose her job. Aging i s serious for women because i t can mean the loss of independence. Women i n both the workshops and the study, were coming to terms with t h e i r own aging through care-taking aging parents. Often old patterns resurfaced, roles were reversed. I t i s women who care for the aged — daughters, daughters-in-law. Why do they do t h i s when i n many cases, women mention not f e e l i n g close to t h e i r parents? I t appears that there i s a subtle family pressure exerted toward single women with no children. The women i n t h i s study were aware of the aging process i n t h e i r own l i v e s . Aging was considered a challenge by most respondents. Some f e l t f i t and healthy, while others were moving toward greater health a f t e r cancer scares, work i n j u r i e s and li f e - t h r e a t e n i n g surgery. Most took part i n some . physical a c t i v i t i e s ranging from yoga to kayaking. While menopause was a focus i n the l i t e r a t u r e regarding women i n m i d l i f e , none of the women who were experiencing i t , or considered themselves past menopause, saw i t as anything out of the ordinary. Support networks were often small, and none had children. McDaniel (1989) notes: Aging women of the future may have some d i s t i n c t advantages over aging women today. There are c l e a r trends suggesting that tomorrow's old women w i l l be better educated, more l i k e l y to have worked outside the home for a s i g n i f i c a n t part of t h e i r l i v e s , have access to better pensions and health care, perhaps experience menopause as a less s a l i e n t event i n t h e i r l i v e s due to compressed childbearing and the decreased c e n t r a l i t y of re p r o d u c t i o n i n t h e i r l i v e s , have more 112 experiences with making t r a n s i t i o n s from work to home or married to divorced status, have wider "family" c i r c l e s including more friends and surrogate family members, and perhaps best of a l l , become more p o l i t i c a l as they age. Tomorrow's o l d women may a l s o be more ph y s i c a l l y f i t , more independent, and les s w i l l i n g to be stereotyped, although c l a s s differences w i l l no doubt continue to e x i s t . A few of the trends outlined by McDaniel are c e r t a i n l y a p p l i c a b l e to the m a j o r i t y of t h i s study's respondents p a r t i c u l a r l y with regard to higher education, extended labor force p a r t i c i p a t i o n , menopause as a les s s a l i e n t event, and extended family and friendship t i e s . The women i n t h i s study, although not p a r t i c u l a r l y focussed on women's issues or p o l i c i e s that might enhance t h e i r status, valued t h e i r personal autonomy above a l l . Independence was central to the old women i n both the Simon and O'Brien studies as w e l l . Thus, the key findings appear to be: the central importance of a never-married woman's sense of personal autonomy and control of her l i f e ; the importance of income ei t h e r through wages or pension; the general i n d i c a t i o n of li m i t e d future planning to maintain independence throughout old age; some i n t e r n a l i z a t i o n of "deviant" status; and f i n a l l y , the support f o r other l i t e r a t u r e r e garding education and long-term employment as determinants of some measure of security for women. 113 Since the 1970s, the l i t e r a t u r e concerning the e f f o r t s of the s o c i a l work profession to confront women's issues has continued to expand (Weick and Vandiver, 1982; Solomon, 1982; Hudson, 1985; Van Den Bergh and Cooper, 1986). With respect to s o c i a l work, t h i s study suggests that women and aging should be a central t o p i c i n undergraduate and graduate curriculum. Its importance i n the areas of family p o l i c y and human development and behavior, as well as i n socio-economic p o l i c y courses, comes to mind. As Hudson (1985) states: S o c i a l welfare assumptions about the nuclear f a m i l y (male breadwinner, f u l l time economically dependent housewife and children) do not merely r e f l e c t outmoded ideas and e x p e c t a t i o n s ... s u c h a s s u m p t i o n s a l s o c o n t r i b u t e a form of subtle i d e o l o g i c a l control of the family and p a r t i c u l a r l y of women. F a m i l i a l ideology constructs and reinforces s p e c i f i c ideas about the most desirable form of gender and family r e l a t i o n s (p. 643). Those of us who consider ourselves feminist s o c i a l workers are concerned with women's issues and are continually aware of the l i n k s between the lack of knowledge of p a r t i c u l a r groups, and the danger of stereotypes about these groups expanding to f i l l the void. The importance of research being undertaken to inform s o c i a l work practice and p o l i c y i s c r u c i a l . S o c i a l p o l i c y makers, including educators, s o c i a l workers, administrators, and p o l i t i c i a n s , should be encouraged to place issues such as access to education, wage and pension reform, housing and s o c i a l support development near the top of the p o l i c y agenda i n order 114 to plan for the needs of female e l d e r l y . Given that a large percentage of women end up i n poverty, p o l i c y makers need to take i n t o account women of varying marital and sexual backgrounds. A move to ensure independent l i v i n g with adequate s o c i a l supports as women make the t r a n s i t i o n from m i d l i f e to old age, should be high on s o c i a l work pra c t i c e and p o l i c y agendas. The s o c i a l work profession moves from an e t h i c a l base and t r a d i t i o n , and supposedly infuses i t s students and p r a c t i t i o n e r s with an a b i l i t y to analyze and c r i t i c i z e s o c i e t a l assumptions. Considering the numbers of s o c i a l work p r a c t i t i o n e r s , s o c i a l work students and s o c i a l service program r e c i p i e n t s who are women, s o c i a l p o l i c i e s s t i l l tend to support assumptions about women that are held by men i n the larger society. One possible i n i t i a t i v e would be educational workshops for professionals working with m i d l i f e women, as well as fo r m i d l i f e women themselves. In addition, education aimed at women i n t h e i r t h i r t i e s could emphasize the importance of future p l a n n i n g — not as a "scare" t a c t i c , but as a basic learning s k i l l , a basic provision f or women who at some time during t h e i r l i v e s , are bound to be single. While t h i s approach i s generally used with women i n t h e i r teens and early twenties, i t may not "take" u n t i l i t i s cl e a r that the women may not marry — perhaps t h i s r e a l i z a t i o n i s most evident to women i n t h e i r l a t e t h i r t i e s . S o c i a l workers f a m i l i a r with the more " t r a d i t i o n a l l y " understood l i f e s t y l e s within t h i s age group, such as the divorced or widowed, w i l l be presented with a more heterogeneous p o r t r a i t of 115 m i d l i f e women. As mentioned, women i n the study treasured t h e i r independence above a l l ; and yet, many had not done any long range planning for t h e i r futures. Workshops on career development and change, f i n a n c i a l planning including stable housing, could be developed. Workshops on the physical and developmental aspects of aging, or informal groups for women to discuss t h e i r l i v e s , might be accommodated within various communities. Preventative health programs, housing geared toward sole support women and s o c i a l support networks f o r women as they age, are important considerations. There i s a trend for work to move back into the home with the advent of computer technology. Although several women expressed d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n with t h e i r jobs, they nonetheless indicated the value of workplace contacts. The importance of education to a woman's future security should be emphasized to g i r l s and women throughout the l i f e span. (See Chapter Four). Another area i n c r u c i a l need of examination i s that of women and pensions. Wages and pensions f o r single women must be such that a woman i s able to do more than survive a f t e r a l i f e of work. Lesbian (and gay male) couples, are unable to take advantage of spousal pensions or employee benefits such as medical and dental plans i n order to provide for one another. Perhaps then, s o c i a l workers could a s s i s t i n redefining family. A further recommendation includes continued research into the l i v e s of women as they age, through d i r e c t inquiry into t h e i r 1 1 6 l i f e s t y l e s , as well as through longitudinal studies. Comparative s t u d i e s c o u l d i n c l u d e : p e r c e p t i o n s of aging, finances, re l a t i o n s h i p s , sexuality, among single, divorced and widowed m i d l i f e women; comparisions of never-married and married m i d l i f e women; comparisions between lesbian and heterosexual couples i n m i d l i f e ; comparisions of groups of never-married women, f o r example ten 45, 55, and 65 year olds. Policy emanating from research on m i d l i f e women w i l l , i t i s hoped, r e f l e c t a more r e a l i s t i c picture of women. The s o c i a l work agenda must be b u i l t to examine c r i t i c a l l y the l i v e s of women, both our commonalities and our d i v e r s i t y . Confronted with government s t a t i s t i c s , as well as by the l i v e s of our female c l i e n t s , and perhaps our own families and friends, s o c i a l workers should be aware that the progress of women within our society, p a r t i c u l a r l y economically, has been marginal. We have perhaps, not paid enough attention to the inner workings of the economy or to p o l i c i e s that e f f e c t income d i s t r i b u t i o n through s o c i a l programs and transfer payments. We are mandated through our profession, to empower those with whom we work whether i t i s indi v i d u a l s , groups or communities. 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Gender, public p o l i c y and the oldest old. In Ageing and Society. 7, 275-302. 128 APPENDIX A INTERVIEW SCHEDULE SECTION A M i d l i f e and Aging In what year were you born? T e l l me what m i d l i f e i s l i k e for you. Would you t e l l me what aging means to you. Challenge? Dreaded? Describe your f i r s t r e a l i z a t i o n that you were growing older. What worries do you have about growing older? What frightens you most about growing older? What are you most looking forward to as you age? Who do you see as r o l e models for aging? How were older people treated i n your family? Who cared for them? Do you expect to, or are you, caring for an aging parent? Is aging something that you are aware of continually? How would you describe your o v e r a l l physical health. Menopause? What w i l l you and your l i f e be l i k e i n f i f t e e n years from now? Twenty years from now? SECTION B Finances and Housing The following questions concern your housing and your f i n a n c i a l s i t u a t i o n . I f any of the questions seem too i n t r u s i v e , you need not respond. When you were i n your l a t e teens, how did you think your f i n a n c i a l needs would be taken care of? Had you been earning your own money? Did you expect that you would be supported by husband? Someone else? Do you worry about money? If employed ask: What were your earnings l a s t year? Are you able to save money? How: RRSP, bonds, stocks? If not working ask: How are you able to support yourself f i n a n c i a l l y ? Unemployment insurance? D i s a b i l i t y pension? So c i a l assistance? 129 Mention: S t a t i s t i c s portray a grim f i n a n c i a l p icture for unattached women over 65. Are you aware of that? How do you expect to l i v e as a single older woman? Have you inherited money or property from family, r e l a t i v e s , friends? Do you expect to? Can you t e l l me what f i n a n c i a l plans you have for the future? How would you describe your l i v i n g situation? What type of dwelling do you l i v e in? Are you s a t i s f i e d with i t ? Do you own or share your home with r e l a t i v e s or friends? How much of your income goes toward housing? Safety concerns? SECTION C Education Could you t e l l me what expectations your parents had for your education? The education of your s i b l i n g s ? What does education mean to you? What were your own educational plans? T e l l me about your education. Job t r a i n i n g . Describe any personal development workshops or seminars that had an impact. SECTION D Work Are you currently working for wages? T e l l me about your paid work. What types of work have you done i n the past? In thinking about your current work, how s a t i s f i e d are you? Does the major s a t i s f a c t i o n i n your l i f e come from your work? Do you consider your present p o s i t i o n to be a job or a career? Overall, how committed are you to your job/career? Is there anyone who has helped to guide or i n s p i r e your work? Could you t e l l me i f your age a f f e c t s your work? How your employers view you? If unemployed, what i s your usual occupation? Could you t e l l me why you are not doing paid work at t h i s time? Is your age an issue i n your unemployment? What other a c t i v i t i e s are you involved in? Committee work? Volunteer work? 130 SECTION E S e l f What stands out for you i n your l i f e over the l a s t few years? What kinds of things have been important? What stays with you? T e l l me something about what your l i f e i s l i k e r i g h t now. What do you care about, think about? How would you describe yourself to yourself? Is the way you see yourself now d i f f e r e n t from the way you saw yourself i n the past? Describe your l i f e i n your twenties? T h i r t i e s ? Forties? What led to the changes? Have there been any other turning points? When you were a c h i l d what did you think you would l i k e to be or do when you grew up? How do you see yourself changing i n the future? SECTION F Relationships/Family History Looking back over your l i f e , what relationships have been r e a l l y important to you? Why? How would you describe those relationships? How do you think the other person would describe the relationship? Have you had a re l a t i o n s h i p with someone who helped you shape the person you have become? Have you had a r e a l l y important r e l a t i o n s h i p where you were responsible for taking care of another person? How would you describe that? How important was that i n your l i f e ? Were you ever i n a long-term sexual relationship? How would you define the term "family"? How would you describe your mother (or primary caregiver)? What was her usual occupation? Her l e v e l of education? How would you describe your father? His occupation? His l e v e l of education? What i s the ethnic background of your family? How would you describe your r e l i g i o u s background as a child? How would you describe your family's f i n a n c i a l s i t u a t i o n when you were growing up? How would you describe your class background? In what kind of geographical s e t t i n g were you raised? For example, large urban c i t y , small town, farm? Who earned the money to support the family? Are your parents l i v i n g ? I f yes, has your view of them been changing over the years? 131 Do you have brothers or s i s t e r s ? I f so, please t e l l me the age, sex, and marital status of each s i b l i n g and whether each has any children. Where are you placed i n b i r t h order? In thinking about your parents, s i b l i n g s and other close r e l a t i v e s , how would you describe your l i f e as a child? How would you describe your re l a t i o n s h i p with them now? One of the things that woman are becoming more aware of i s that many of us were sexually abused at some time i n our l i v e s , even as children. Studies have shown that a large percentage of women have been victims of sexual or physical abuse. Has t h i s ever happened to you? With whom do you engage i n s o c i a l a c t i v i t i e s such as dinners, movies, sports? With whom do you t a l k about personal worries? Whose advice do you consider i n making important decisions? From whom would you, or could you, borrow a large sum of money? How do you celebrate s p e c i a l occasions such as birthdays, holidays? With whom do you celebrate? Of the friends you have named, how many are also never-married? T e l l me about your l e i s u r e / c r e a t i v e a c t i v i t i e s . SECTION G Sexual History I would l i k e to ask questions of a more personal nature now. They concern your sexual history. I want to remind you again about the co n f i d e n t i a l nature of the interview. I f however, any of the questions seem too intimate, you need not answer. Would you describe yourself as a sexually active woman? Are you celibate? At the present time, how would you describe your sexual orienta t i o n : Heterosexual? Bisexual? Lesbian? Are you currently involved i n a sexual relationship? How do you meet sexual partners? I f you are not sexual, how do you s a t i s f y your need for physical contact? Are you s a t i s f i e d with your sex l i f e ? How i s your sex l i f e d i f f e r e n t now than when you were younger? Do you f e e l that your age has any a f f e c t on your sex l i f e ? How would you describe intimacy? 132 SECTION H Being Never Married Why didn't you marry? Is a decision you made once and for a l l ? Could you t e l l me about other never-married women i n your immediate or extended family. What was the family "gossip" about them? Do you prefer being single? Can you t e l l me what you enjoy most about being single? Enjoy least? How do you cope with society's attitudes toward older single Are you troubled about being alone as you grow older? Can you describe times you have f e l t discriminated against because of your marital status. Any regrets about having never married? When do you most f e e l single? Certain occasions? SECTION I Childlessness Can you t e l l me about your reasons for not having children. Are there other women i n your family who have chosen not to have children? Were you ever pregnant? Would your family have disapproved of your being a single mother? Are there things you regret about not having children? Are there childr e n i n your l i f e ? Nieces, nephews, children of friends? SECTION J P o l i t i c a l Views How would you describe your p o l i t i c a l views? Are you a member of a p o l i t i c a l party? Are you a member of any women's organization or group? What p o l i c i e s s p e c i f i c to aging women do you think the p r o v i n c i a l government/federal government should implement? SECTION K S p i r i t u a l i t y Can you t e l l me something about the place of r e l i g i o n or s p i r i t u a l i t y i n your l i f e . Do you share s o c i a l a c t i v i t i e s with r e l i g i o u s organizations? 133 SECTION L Conclusion Women's l i v e s vary so much that interview questions are unable to adequately portray her l i f e . I f there i s something else you would l i k e to say about yourself i n order to provide a better understanding of never-married women, please do so. Are there other questions you think I should have asked? Is there anything you would say to younger women? Why have you pa r t i c i p a t e d i n t h i s study? 1 3 4 APPENDIX B INFORMED C O N S E N T FORM OUT OF THE M A I N S T R E A M : An E x p l o r a t o r y S t u d y o f N e v e r - M a r r i e d a n d C h i l d l e s s Women i n M i d l i f e R E S E A R C H E R / I N T E R V I E W E R : B a r b a r a M. H e r r i n g e r : 8 7 6 - 7 4 8 7 I, , a g r e e t o be i n t e r v i e w e d on a u d i o t a p e f o r t h i s s t u d y o f n e v e r - m a r r i e d a n d c h i l d l e s s women i n m i d l i f e . I h a v e b e e n i n f o r m e d t h a t t h e p u r p o s e o f t h i s p r o j e c t i s t o e x p l o r e t h e e x p e r i e n c e s o f t h i s a g e g r o u p a n d t h a t t h e i n t e r v i e w i s a p p r o x i m a t e l y two h o u r s l o n g . I u n d e r s t a n d , t h a t as a p a r t i c i p a n t , my r i g h t s w i l l n o t be j e o p a r d i z e d , t h a t my p r i v a c y w i l l be m a i n t a i n e d a n d t h a t t h e d a t a o b t a i n e d i n t h i s s t u d y w i l l be u s e d i n a m a n n e r t o m a i n t a i n c o n f i d e n t i a l i t y a n d p e r s o n a l r i g h t s . I h a v e b e e n t o l d t h a t t h e t a p e i n d e n t i f i a b l e by a g e o n l y , a n d c a b i n e t . I u n d e r s t a n d t h a t t h e e n d o f t h e p r o j e c t . c o n t a i n i n g my i n t e r v i e w w i l l be w i l l be k e p t i n a l o c k e d f i l i n g t a p e s w i l l be d e s t r o y e d a t t h e I u n d e r s t a n d t h a t I may i n t e r r u p t t h e i n t e r v i e w a t a n y t i m e t o a s k f o r c l a r i f i c a t i o n . I am a l s o a w a r e t h a t I may w i t h d r a w my c o n s e n t a n d d i s c o n t i n u e p a r t i c i p a t i o n a t a n y t i m e . D a t e d : S i g n a t u r e o f P a r t i c i p a n t D a t e d S i g n a t u r e o f R e s e a r c h e r I h a v e a r e c e i v e d a t h i s c o n s e n t f o r m . c o p y o f I n i t i a l s o f P a r t i c i p a n t 

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