Instagram Husband Definition Essay

For other uses, see Widow (disambiguation).

A widow is a woman whose spouse has died and a widower is a man whose spouse has died. The treatment of widows and widowers around the world varies.


A widow is a woman whose spouse has died, while a widower is a man whose spouse has died. The state of having lost one's spouse to death is termed widowhood.[1] These terms are not applied to a divorcé(e) following the death of an ex-spouse.[citation needed]

The term widowhood can be used for either sex, at least according to some dictionaries,[2][3] but the word widowerhood is also listed in some dictionaries.[4][5] Occasionally, the word viduity is used.[citation needed] The adjective for either sex is widowed.[6][7]

Economic position[edit]

In societies where the husband is the sole provider, his death can leave his family destitute. The tendency for women generally to outlive men can compound this, as can men in many societies marrying women younger than themselves. In some patriarchal societies, widows may maintain economic independence. A woman would carry on her spouse's business and be accorded certain rights, such as entering guilds. More recently, widows of political figures have been among the first women elected to high office in many countries, such as Corazón Aquino or Isabel Martínez de Perón.

In 19th-century Britain, widows had greater opportunity for social mobility than in many other societies. Along with the ability to ascend socio-economically, widows—who were "presumably celibate"—were much more able (and likely) to challenge conventional sexual behaviour than married women in their society.[8]

In some parts of Europe, including Russia, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Italy and Spain, widows used to wear black for the rest of their lives to signify their mourning, a practice that has since died out. Many immigrants from these cultures to the United States as recently as the 1970s have loosened this strict standard of dress to only two years of black garments[citation needed]. However, Orthodox Christian immigrants may wear lifelong black in the United States to signify their widowhood and devotion to their deceased husband.

In other cultures, however, widowhood customs are stricter. Often, women are required to remarry within the family of their late husband after a period of mourning.[citation needed] With the rise of HIV/AIDS levels of infection across the globe, rituals to which women are subjected in order to be "cleansed" or accepted into her new husband's home make her susceptible to the psychological adversities that may be involved as well as imposing health risks.[citation needed]

It may be necessary for a woman to comply with the social customs of her area because her fiscal stature depends on it, but this custom is also often abused by others as a way to keep money within the deceased spouse's family.[9] It is also uncommon for widows to challenge their treatment because they are often "unaware of their rights under the modern law…because of their low status, and lack of education or legal representation."[10] . Unequal benefits and treatment[clarification needed] generally received by widows compared to those received by widowers globally[example needed] has spurred an interest in the issue by human rights activists.[10]

As of 2004, women in United States who were "widowed at younger ages are at greatest risk for economic hardship." Similarly, married women who are in a financially unstable household are more likely to become widows "because of the strong relationship between mortality [of the male head] and wealth [of the household]."[9] In underdeveloped and developing areas of the world, conditions for widows continue to be much more severe. However, the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women ("now ratified by 135 countries"), while slow, is working on proposals which will make certain types of discrimination and treatment of widows (such as violence and withholding property rights) illegal in the countries that have joined CEDAW.[10]

Effects of widowhood[edit]

The phenomenon that refers to the increased mortality rate after the death of a spouse is called the widowhood effect.[citation needed]. It is “strongest during the first three months after a spouse's death, when they had a 66-percent increased chance of dying.”[11] Most widows and widowers suffer from this effect during the first 3 months of their spouse's death, however they can also suffer from this effect later on in their life for much longer than 3 months.[citation needed] There remains controversy over whether women or men have worse effects from becoming widowed, and studies have attempted to make their case for which side is worse off, while other studies try to show that there are no true differences based on gender and other factors are responsible for any differences.[12]

A variable that is deemed important and relative to the effects of widowhood is the gender of the widow. Research has shown that the difference falls in the burden of care, expectations, and finally how the react after their passing. For example, women carry more a burden than men and are less willing to want to go through this again.[13] After a passing, however, men and women can react very differently and frequently have a change in lifestyle. A study has been done in order to show that women are more likely to yearn for their late husband if he were to be taken away suddenly from her. Men on the other hand tend to be more likely to long for their late wife if she were to pass away after suffering a long, terminal illness.[14]

Another change that happens to most men is that their lifestyle habits become worse. For example, without a wife there, he is probably more likely to not watch what he eats like he would if she were there. Instead of having to make something himself, it is more of a convenience just to order take-out. Women do have a change in lifestyle, but they typically don’t have the problem of eating foods that are bad for her. Instead, women are typically more known to lose weight due to lack of eating. This is likely to be caused as a side effect of depression.[15]

The older spouses grow, the more aware they are of being alone due to the death of their husband or wife. This negatively impacts the mental as well as physical well being in both men and women (Utz, Reidy, Carr, Nesse, & Wortman, 2004 as Cited in Mumtaz 71).

Classic and contemporary social customs[edit]


The status of widowhood was accompanied by a dramatic body symbolism:[16]

  • Widow's head was shaved as part of her mourning
  • She could no longer wear a red dot on her forehead and was forbidden to wear jewels
  • She was expected to walk barefoot

Joseon Korea[edit]

Social stigma in Joseon Korea required that widows remain unmarried after their husbands death. In 1477, Seongjong of Joseon enacted the Widow Remarriage Law, which strengthened pre-exisiting social constraints by barring the sons of widows who remarried from holding public office.[17] In 1489, Seongjong condemned a woman of the royal clan, Yi Guji, when it was discovered that she had cohabited with her slave after being widowed. More than 40 members of her household were arrested and her lover was tortured to death.[18]

See also[edit]


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Widows.
Look up widow in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Statue of a mother at Yasukuni Shrine, dedicated to war widows who raised their children alone.
Widows of Uganda supporting each other by working on crafts in order to sell them and make an income
  1. ^"Definition of WIDOWHOOD". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 2016-03-18. 
  2. ^"Widowhood definition and meaning - Collins English Dictionary". Retrieved 2 May 2017. 
  3. ^"widowhood - definition of widowhood in English - Oxford Dictionaries". Oxford Dictionaries - English. Retrieved 2 May 2017. 
  4. ^"Widowerhood definition and meaning - Collins English Dictionary". Retrieved 2 May 2017. 
  5. ^"Definition of WIDOWERHOOD". Retrieved 2 May 2017. 
  6. ^"Widowed definition and meaning - Collins English Dictionary". Retrieved 2 May 2017. 
  7. ^"widowed Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary". Retrieved 2 May 2017. 
  8. ^Behrendt, Stephen C. "Women without Men: Barbara Hofland and the Economics of Widowhood." Eighteenth Century Fiction 17.3 (2005): 481-508. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 14 Sept. 2010.
  9. ^ ab"Imagine...." Widows' Rights International. Web. 14 Sep 2010. <>.
  10. ^ abcOwen, Margaret. A World of Widows. Illustrated. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Zed Books, 1996. 181-183. eBook.
  11. ^"'Widowhood effect' strongest during first three months". 14 November 2016. Retrieved 2 May 2017 – via Reuters. 
  12. ^Trivedi, J., Sareen, H., & Dhyani, M. (2009). Psychological Aspects of Widowhood and Divorce. Mens Sana Monogr Mens Sana Monographs, 7(1), 37. doi:10.4103/0973-1229.40648
  13. ^"Gale - Enter Product Login". Retrieved 2016-04-28. 
  14. ^Wilcox, Sara; Evenson, Kelly R.; Aragaki, Aaron; Wassertheil-Smoller, Sylvia; Mouton, Charles P.; Loevinger, Barbara Lee (2003). "The effects of widowhood on physical and mental health, health behaviors, and health outcomes: The Women's Health Initiative". Health Psychology. 22 (5): 513. doi:10.1037/0278-6133.22.5.513. PMID 14570535. 
  15. ^Wilcox, Sara; Evenson, Kelly R.; Aragaki, Aaron; Wassertheil-Smoller, Sylvia; Mouton, Charles P.; Loevinger, Barbara Lee (2003). "The effects of widowhood on physical and mental health, health behaviors, and health outcomes: The Women's Health Initiative". Health Psychology. 22 (5): 513. doi:10.1037/0278-6133.22.5.513. PMID 14570535. 
  16. ^Olson, Carl. The Many Colors of Hinduism. Rutgers University Press. 
  17. ^Uhn, Cho. "The Invention of Chaste Motherhood: A Feminist Reading of the Remarriage Ban in the Chosun Era". Asian Journal of Women's Studies. 5 (3). pp. 45–63. doi:10.1080/12259276.1999.11665854. 
  18. ^성종실록 (成宗實錄) [Veritable Records of Seongjong] (in Classical Chinese). 226. 1499. 

Michelle Obama, America’s First Lady

It was 2007. I was too young to realize I was political, and there was a senator two of my friends could not stop talking about. They were excited in a way I had not previously witnessed them. They convinced me to drive to Nevada to volunteer for this senator who was running in hopes of becoming the next President of the United States. We would get a chance to hear him speak while we volunteered for the Nevada caucus. We went to the volunteer training, and I was very impressed by the amount of integrity the Obama campaign had and expected from their volunteers.

There was another meeting to attend, but we skipped it to head to the high school where Senator Obama was going to speak. I walked in that high school skeptical that one speech would resonate deeply enough to make me a believer. Then the doors opened. Michelle Obama was announced and she began speaking, not about a job or role, but about the kind of person she fell in love with, the kind of person she married and had children with. The kind of person she trusted her future with and would continue to support wherever that took them. I found myself opening to the idea that maybe these people were deserving of the highest form of leadership in our country. I was most impressed by Mrs. Obama’s candid conversation. I recall her talking at one point about her husband still being her husband at the end of every day, which meant he’d swing by the store for milk and take out the trash before morning. She even talked at one point about her distaste for his cigarette habit, saying into the crowd, “If you see him smoking one, let me know.” She introduced her husband and again the doors flung open. The energy shifted in the room, and he proceeded to give a speech that won me over. It was a single sentence that did it for me: “I will wake up every morning thinking about ways to make your life better.” I had never heard anyone in politics sound so human, so good and decent.

After the speech, we made our way to the rope line and I went straight for Mrs. Obama. She was gracious and signed my “Hope” poster. I left Nevada a believer in the Obamas, and for the first time in my life felt a sense of patriotism. As a black woman, patriotism isn’t something I experience. It is something I grew up hearing about, but knew it was reserved for others, like “whites only” drinking fountains.

A month or so later, I hear that Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama and Caroline Kennedy would gather thousands of women to talk about our participation in the upcoming election. I waited in line on the UCLA campus for nearly 10 hours. I was one of the first people in line and therefore was one of the first let in. I stood dead center, ten feet from the podium.

I cannot tell you what any one of those incredible women said that day. What I do know is I cried the entire time. I could feel in my being how monumental this moment was. I was there, and for the rest of my life I would get to say that.

What happened at the end of that rally I hope to never forget. All the ladies came down and walked the rope line, greeting people and signing autographs. As each walked by, they acknowledged that not only was I witnessing something powerful, so were they. As Oprah walked past she asked if I was okay. I don’t know if I responded, but she walked back to me and wiped my tears from my cheeks. As Michelle approached, she looked me in the face and said, “Hey, weren’t you in Nevada?” I don’t recall if I responded to her either, but I know I was shocked that someone traveling the country, meeting countless people would remember not only my face, but also where she met me. There was a magic to that day that has carried me. A type of energy that makes you grow. In many ways, I see that day as a rite of passage, as a becoming.

Over the last eight years, I have been deeply moved by First Lady Michelle Obama, not because of her title, but because of what she has done with it. I love her strength and her brilliance, a brilliance she will not dim or hide for anyone, her dedication to family, but also to others. She is relatable and the kind of woman you want to know. She has been honest in a way many criticized, but I respect deeply. In 2016, Time magazine named Sasha and Malia Obama “most influential teens.” Michelle responded, “Yeah, I don’t know why. They’re not influential, they just live here (referring to the White House). They have done nothing to gain any influence.”

From a historical context, Michelle Obama is the first African-American First Lady, but to me she is a woman in full bloom, an example of black excellence that I am not unfamiliar with. Michelle Obama represents a demographic of black womanhood America has not been interested in witnessing, but has always been present in my community. Black women like Michelle Obama exist. Often they do not get to be on the cover of magazines, and it is even more rare for people to listen to their opinions. I am inspired by her grace because regardless of how little America liked her, she was still Michelle Robinson from the South Side of Chicago all the way to the White House. Through it all, she remained beautiful, brilliant and black. I have never been more proud to be an American because for the very first time I was represented.

Originally published: Jan 14, 2017 @ 06:03



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Natalie Patterson

Natalie currently lives in Los Angeles. She enjoys love notes, working in the middle of the night, black tea, spending Sunday’s in love and being promptly paid for her art.


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