When Married Women Bully Single Women

When I read a letter to the editor signed “Mrs. John Doe” or “J’s wife”, I feel irritation.

This is a mild form of “women-to -women” violence that often is overlooked and underappreciated.

As a woman from the generation that fought for civil rights for women, I recognize the patriarchal symbolism of “Mrs.” as opposed to the gender neutral “Ms.”

Women who identify publicly as an appendage of a spouse, knowingly or not, display an historic form of gender superiority. They tell the world they have worth because they are not a “spinster” or “old maid.” Their message subtly stigmatizes single women.

A recent study in China found “extensive evidence” of women-to-women violence, primarily psychological, targeting urban unmarried women over the age of 30.

“Notably, most of the direct perpetrators of violent acts against single women are married women, who are seen to accept and defend the patriarchal society and value system to viilfy the existence of single women,” writes author Shaoefen Tang.

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