Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Maybe I'm a Zitella (Spinster)

Mini rant alert .

I was sitting in the park with two Italian girlfriends when I heard the word Zitella for the first time. One friend said her mother was on her case again about being single. She said she loved her life and wish people would stop assuming otherwise.

This is something I can relate to. I understand why my mom asks but I have to say I'm getting annoyed with random people back in the States asking me if I'm dating someone and the sound of disappointment when I say no.

People this is not Under The Tuscan Sun. It's true many of my expat friends have met their boyfriends/husbands here. However, I resent being made to feel like something is wrong with me because no smart, gorgeous, rich, man named Francesco, Matteo, Carlo etc. etc. has swept me off my feet.

I could have stayed in L.A. where I wouldn't have to deal with a language barrier and Italian red tape and feel shitty. I don't need to bring that nonsense overseas.

Also whoever is the black woman running around America saying "Italian men love black women", please stop. Robert DeNiro is only one person and he's Italian-American.

This myth is adding more pressure. "What? You're a sister in Italy and you're still single? What is the problem?!!"

Men here like women period. My theory on this stereotype is since we are so not considered desirable in our own culture and country unless we look a very specifcic way, when black women come here they are stunned by the attention. I mean even men who look like trolls in the U.S. expect to date a Beyonce or Halle look-a-like. So when fine ass Marco throws a "Ciao Bella" your way I can see why it's earth shattering. Especially if you are over the age of 25.

Anyway I have been on a few dates but I don't get this whole group date thing. The Caribbean side thinks this is a nice way to get to know someone. The American side thinks this is taking forever.

The people asking in the States need to know the divorce rate here is much lower compared to America (in California it's close to 70%). So the pool of available men is smaller.

Maybe one day I will get married. Maybe I won't and will be single for the rest of my life. If it's the latter I wish people back off and stop looking at me with pity.

Spinster has such a negative connotation. No one is shedding a tear for George Clooney, a confirmed bachelor. However, the narrative for Jennifer Aniston is the complete opposite. I'm not a fan but it's ridiculous how the tabloids are constantly saying "Poor Jen!". Excuse me? Both she and Clooney have been married before, are healthy, very successful, etc. I'm not sure why Clooney's lifestyle is admired and Jen's is sad.


michelle | bleeding espresso said...

Totally with you here; the double standard is ridiculous...confirmed bachelor v. spinster. Blech. Even the words (in both languages) are nasty...zitella! Gah!

I also have to say that this:

Also whoever is the black woman running around America saying "Italian men love black women", please stop. Robert DeNiro is only one person and he's Italian-American.

is HILARIOUS!!!!!!!!!!

I feel a nonfiction book in the works....

milanesemasala said...

I can't believe people here are still talking about zitelle, especially when they don't graduate from university before the age of 35 and never even dream of moving out from their parents' place. The great thing about Italy is that you're considered "giovane" until you hit 50 ;) So I wouldn't worry. And as Diana Ross used to say, "You can't hurry love".
As well, the spinster is a species on the road to extinction. It's cougar time!!!

Anonymous said...

I hear ya sis. You forgot Marcello in the list of men :)

Seriously tho, I find questions like that rude and annoying. This isn't the same, but I'm at the same point with the kid question.

Lately I've been getting a lot of "you've been married 5 years and no kids? What are you waiting for! Don't you want kids?". Mind your f*cking business, how bout that? Maybe I DON't want kids, maybe I CAN'T have kids, maybe I don't have f*cking TIME right now with my job. But whatever the reason, what gives people the right to ask such personal questions and be all idignant is beyond me. As you can tell, it pisses me off.

Sorry to rant on your rant.


J.Doe said...

To add to anonymus's rant....try having one kid who is over one year old. Everyone seems to ask "When is your child getting a little brother or sister?".
Critiscms from other people who think they know what life is all about will never end. Zitella, childless or only a one child family. It's best to ignore them and get used to their stupid little opinions because they will never stop-they'll only change direction.

joanne at frutto della passione said...

I'm with Milanese Masala on the youth bit. You automatically became 10 years younger just by moving here. Milestones and life events happen 10 to 15 years later here so really, you're too young to get married!

Gypsygirl said...

I hear you. I am tired of people asking how come I am not married. In my opinion, sometimes marriage just complicates things. I am single and loving it, not all the time, but enough of the time to be happy with myself. Some people who ask that are married and miserable, it's true what they say "misery loves company". I can be miserable on my own, I don't need someone else's sh@# to get me down.

Go about your life and do you NYC, more power to the single woman!!!

erin :: the olive notes said...

I love this post...it's so true, especially about how the culture as a whole sees men and women differently in this same situation.

...and I agree with Michelle...this is good writing material :)

Diana Strinati Baur said...

Ragazza, this world will not fall apart for lack of ignorant people. That is for damn sure. This is just insane. Until you wrote this, I never even thought about it. Ugh. People. But for ever fool there is a fabulous one....LIKE US!!!!! :) Right? HA!

Wordtryst - Liane Spicer said...

I would be p*ssed off too! I've been single for 18 years and after the marriage from hell I'm happy to be that way. Had a relationship or two that didn't go the distance, but I learned a lot from them.

I have relatives who believe that women are 'supposed' to be married, and I've stopped interacting with a couple of them because the conversation always comes around to my marital status. Hello? I'm so effing happy to be free of relationship drama and free to pursue my dreams that I don't see why I must strive to be in the same miserable place most of the married people I know inhabit.

You focus on your goals and find joy there. If the right man comes along, that's icing on the cake. But it's not the cake.

Moscerina said...

Dang-- you hit it right on the head. Especially with the comment:

I mean even men who look like trolls in the U.S. expect to date a Beyonce or Halle look-a-like.

But i also think they just throw their lines out to any and all women in the hopes that ONE will look their way.

Zitelle-- ah, Andrea used to tell me I was a zitella almost every day. This is the guy I was dating, who also told me he was like Peter Pan.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

michelle - The double standard is crazy. It's like a man chooses to be single while the poor pitiful woman is only single because no one wants her. Seriously I'm so sick of people saying, "girl you know Italian men love black women." Uhm really? You want to talk to Lega Nord about that?

milanese - to be clear no one here has called me that. I was thinking of telling people back in the States that I am one. I might even get some T-shirts made. I kid.

gibber - rant away. That question coming from strangers is very odd. Having or not having children is a very personal thing. However, there's some weird mommy worship going on in the States right now, with all the focus on celeb baby bumps, losing the baby bumps, etc.

j. doe - that is crazy. It's one thing if you bring it up. But for folks to ask something so personal is just wrong.

joanne - ha. To be honest I'm over the whole I have to get married thing since I'm not having children (that ship has sailed). A bf would be fine.

gypsygirl - exactly. While I would love to have a man in my life it doesn't mean I have to get married to be a "complete" person. Other than worrying about my financial future and this damn driving test I'm pretty happy with my life.

erin - George Clooney can date a "cocktail waitress" he met in Vegas and it's all good. Jen dates a model and it's oh poor Jen!

diana - hahaha. Sometimes I don't think people realize how insensitive these questions can be.

wordtryst - I like your cake analogy. I'm not going to die because I'm single. I know what you mean about the relatives. Last time I was in the Caribbean the only single woman besides me at a huge family party was my 60 something widowed aunt.

moscerina - So interesting. I see a Peter Pan man as a big negative and he actually claimed it. I don't get it.

Anonymous said...

Are we still so conditioned to think that the only worth a woman has is to be married and have children? I think that for most people its a knee jerk conversational reaction to a unmarried woman or a married woman with no children. I was out this weekend and I swear at least four people asked me when we were going to have kids. But really its been a long time since marriage and children where the only option . Let's move along people.

WineGrrl said...

Frankly, I'd rather be happily single than unhappily yoked....and there are plenty of single parents who are doing just fine if one has the urge to reproduce.

Kim B. said...

Ragazza, love your rant and feel your pain. Although I'm married now, it definitely came very late according to my culture --- I was 37, and I hail from small-town (VERY red state) Oklahoma.

I feel your frustration and aggravation at the questions. I remember being home one summer before graduate school, working at my uncle's drug store. The high school football coach came in -- Hey Kim, How are you blah blah. Then asked if I was married and responded in absolute shock: "What??? You're not married?!! And you're TWENTY-FIVE???!"

Then there was the high school classmate who was literally a used car salesman; I went with my cousin's wife to get their new car. He wanted to catch up. "What? You're not married? NOT EVEN ONCE?" As if it would have been better to have been married and divorced.

I hate the double standard too. Lord knows you can have a rich and fulfilling life without some crazy Italian chasing you around. Hang in there. What *IS* it with people feeling the right to ask all these personal questions???

glamah16 said...

Great post. And dont forget the Italian men living at home too with their mothers. That whole Euro men/ black women is a sterotype. Yes they look at things diffrently than our American men and have less hang ups, but I have met plenty that were not interested as well, as any man can be.Funny CS never considered dating a black women because he just was never around them. We met and dated here in the US. Most of the 'curiosity' comes from his American white male colleaugues. LOL!His Euro friends didnt even comment and we all get along.Well one did but he was more of an acquantice with 'nationalist' leanings.
As for people up in your biz. I have been with CS for 3 years and must get asked 3 x a day when we are getting married and having kids. It annoys the heck out of us.

Jessica said...

I love this post so much! I constantly get looks of shock when people find out I didn't move here for a man and am always asked back at home if I've finally found an Italian boyfriend.

Moscerina - The fact that your ex claimed the title of Peter Pan and actually thought that was "good" just exposes enough "cultural differences" for an entire book :)

SDG said...

All I can say is Amen! I am 40, still single and have no pblm w/my life. Double standard for real.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

scattered moments - I agree let's move along indeed. More and more women are not getting married or having kids. Folks need to get a grip.

winegrrl - exactly.

kim b - you are so right. In small towns the pressure is even greater. Living in DC, then NYC/LA no one was getting married at 25. The avg. age seemed to be early 30s. I don't understand why it would be better to be divorced than never married. Weird.

glamah16 - ha. I don't know a single Italian man who lives at home but then again my friends are in their mid 30s and up. I hear you on the Euro men/black woman thing. I truly believe it's because some women came back from their vacations in France, Italy, Spain etc. and went on and on about the men. Meanwhile back in the States they get little to zero play so I can see why zee men here are appreciated. :) Why are people all up in your business like that? That would drive me nuts too.

jessica - same here! As if moving for a man would have been more understandable. I am not a fan of Peter Pans. Seriously. I don't find it cute.

sdg - very true. If you were a man, folks wouldn't even blink an eye.

Los Angelista said...

70% divorce rate for Cali??? Wowzer!

Everybody here definitely has that Under the Tuscan Sun stereotype going on so I can only imagine how much you get harangued about your "prospects". I just had a heart to heart with a very good friend whose family is now just suggesting random people to her, as if the musty next door neighbor who's 10 years older is better than nothing. Sigh, HUGE double standard!

Cherrye at My Bella Vita said...

This is my pet peeve. I got married when I was 31 and people thought I was *SO* old. I seriously saw someone I knew from high school and when (of course) she asked if I was married and I said no she said, "Oh," (like I'd slapped her) then said, "Well, don't.you.worry. It will happen for you."


I couldn't convince her I was happy and felt my life was perfect.

I *NEVER* ask my friends if they are dating someone new and I *never* ask my married friends if/when they are having children.

Kataroma said...

milanese masala and frutto - I agree completely - no one seems to get married here before 30 (usually more like 35 or 40) and when I was doing a childbirth class at a big public hospital here I was on the younger end of the spectrum of pregnant ladies and I was 36! Most of them were 40. So there's that.

My mother always said that it's important to 'know how to be single' so that when you DO meet the right guy (at 25 45 or 65) you're available. Nothing worse than dating losers just to fill in the time and not noticing the good guys because you're so bound up in the drama with Mr Wrong.

I don't think it's fair to stereotype American men like that though, nyc-they're no more superficial or bound up in looks than anyone else including many women. I'm a woman and I wouldn't date a man I found unattractive either and I'm no Salma Hayek. Obviously the US is a huge diverse place - I dated quite a few American guys when I lived there and I liked them in general even if things didn't work out- obviously they were all different but they seemed much more 'chivalrous' in a way and also used to female equality than some guys of other natinalities I've dated (not talking about my husband here though of course!!) - I thought maybe that was because a lot of them had left home at 18 to go to college so they'd learnt early how to take care of themselves and live with women. I also knew quite a few women (although luckily it was just a few) in the US who treated men as objects ie would only date a man of a certain income level, height or religion/race. Yeah there is the occasional rich old ugly guy in the US who expects to date someone 30 years younger than him but the same goes here - how about those elderly men and their 'showgirls' - yuk. IMO for both men and women it pays to be open minded about who you'll date - you may be pleasantly surprised! And I really don't believe in national stereotypes when it comes to dating. My Latin American ex did the most housework of any guy I've ever dated for example.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

los angelista - you know in L.A. it's really bananas. I think living there really warped my world view.

cherrye - Don't worry it will happen for you? Wow.

kataroma - I agree people should be open minded. That said of course no is going to date someone they are not attracted to. My point was that in America, esp. Los Angeles, what is considered attractive when it comes to black women is very, very narrow. I never knew this until I went away to college as my town wasn't diverse and I was treated the same as my best friend who was the same complexion as Vanessa Williams. After college I lived in Washington DC for three years and it was an eye opening experience. Beyond deep.

Anonymous said...

My experience as I get older is this: if you want to get sex, you can get it any night of the week. However, if you want a relationship, it much harder to find especially as one gets older. Call it wisdom, but, I've come to a point in my life where neither choices thrill me. I love men, no doubt about it, but I'm also really tired of dating. At one point, I made a career out of it. I'm living my life on my terms and try to keep an open mind. Someone once told me that finding love happens like a "hair in your soup" After many bowls of soup, I'm still hair-free.

Anonymous said...

It looks like I missed the party on this blog. I can definately relate. I seriously think that people think that I arrive at my home after work and curl myself up into a small ball on my floor and cry that I'm "still" single. If only they knew!! LOL I secretly think that many of the people who are all up in my business without an invitation wish that they were you and I. Keep your chin up.


nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

ms. violetta -

"My experience as I get older is this: if you want to get sex, you can get it any night of the week."

Ha, okay I'm not so sure about that but I do agree with you that as one gets older it does get harder to find that "hair in your soup."

Ms. ATL - I know. Or you go home and feed your five cats, order take out and clip Cathy cartoons to add to your fridge. ha.

Moi said...

Funny thing though...so many older married women have told me over and over, "Don't get married!! Enjoy your life!!"

girasoli said...

Late in catching up here but wanted to comment anyways.

I was engaged once and am SO glad that did not work out. I have seen too many unhappy marriages to *need* to be married. I would love to be married if I found the right guy but I am not unhappy because I am not married or currently in a relationship.

Like wordtryst commented, "You focus on your goals and find joy there. If the right man comes along, that's icing on the cake. But it's not the cake."

I have lost count the number of times people say to me that I must have a guy in Italy. They can't understand why else would I travel to Italy every summer. As if I could not enjoy myself in Italy without a guy?? Blows my mind each time someone says this to me.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

moi - I hear that from older women as well. ha

girasoli - isn't that strange? As if one should only travel for the potential of romance.

dalia said...

i think it's because jen totally wants to be in a union and has stated so on many, many occasions, and with every breakup it just seems like an unattainable goal for her.

meanwhile, george is a happy playboy (bachelor sounds like someone who is single but maybe would be open to long term; clooney seems to be allergic to anything more than a few years long). he's also been clear that he's not really looking looking looking...

zitella sounds like a kind of pasta, if it's any consolation.


and when i was in italy, people stopped what they were doing an pointed at me. i didn't get much love at all there - and i've been told i'm pretty cute, so i don't know who these people are who think that italian men run around with tents in the pants for black women.

i am having a mid-life crisis with the impending 35th bday and i am starting to feel like a "spinster". i live in a city that is very compartmentalized and as a black woman if you're not haitian, african, white or a francophone you're pretty much SOL.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

dalia - Yes zitella does sound like a pasta. ha
35 is tough but once you're on the other side it's fine. You're in Montreal right? I've only been there once, in high school.

I feel your pain. L.A. was brutal as far as dating went. And it's a city that's very compartmentalized as well.

shannon zitella said...

funny... zitella is my last name lol

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

sharon - ha. thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

I can totally relate sister! I speak Italian, I'm surrounded by guy friends, but that doesn't mean that every nice man is meant to be with me... and trust me, I don't expect "too much" and I'm not a perfectionist... but a nice -and stable- man is not easy to find. I see many of my friends who claim to be happily married, but when I look closer I know that I wouldn't be able to put up with many things that they put up with, i.e. emotional instability of a man, unpredictability, lack of responsibility, selfishness, dishonesty etc.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

anon - I feel the hectic pace of our lives also makes it harder to meet someone. And as you get older the number of available men shrinks. I don't think I was ready for marriage in my 20s so no regrets about that. Now I'm pretty happy with my life. I don't feel the need to "get that ring" but I would like a nice stable relationship. I can write about drama, don't need to live it.

Daniella said...

came across this post randomly... my last name is zitella too! lol...

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

daniella - did you see the comment from Shannon? I love your last name. Thanks for stopping by.

Aritul said...

"I have to say I'm getting annoyed with random people back in the States asking me if I'm dating someone and the sound of disappointment when I say no."

Boy do I understand you. Here, I not only have to deal with friends from the States asking if I've found someone, but random people in my village (Spain) asking me if I've found someone yet. It's alucinante.

Also whoever is the black woman running around America saying "Italian men love black women", please stop. Robert DeNiro is only one person and he's Italian-American.

Truer words have not been spoken.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

aritul - thanks for stopping by my blog and good luck with the folks in your village who are all up in your business. ha

Farah Fanciful said...

I have to post this on my facebook. You rock!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

farah - grazie!