All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation

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All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation Women's Studies

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"In a provocative, groundbreaking work, National Magazine Award­-finalist Rebecca Traister, "the most brilliant voice on feminism in this country" (Anne Lamott), traces the history of unmarried women in America who, through social, political, and economic means, have radically shaped our nation. For legions of women, living single isn't news; it's life. In 2009, the award-winning journalist Rebecca Traister started All the Single Ladies--a book she thought would be a work of contemporary journalism--about the twenty-first century phenomenon of the American single woman. It was the year the proportion of American women who were married dropped below fifty percent; and the median age of first marriages, which had remained between twenty and twenty-two years old for nearly a century (1890-1980), had risen dramatically to twenty-seven. But over the course of her vast research and more than a hundred interviews with academics and social scientists and prominent single women, Traister discovered a startling truth: the phenomenon of the single woman in America is not a new one. And historically, when women were given options beyond early heterosexual marriage, the results were massive social change--temperance, abolition, secondary education, and more.Today, only twenty percent of Americans are wed by age twenty-nine, compared to nearly sixty percent in 1960. The Population Reference Bureau calls it a "dramatic reversal." All the Single Ladies is a remarkable portrait of contemporary American life andhow we got here, through the lens of the single American woman. Covering class, race, sexual orientation, and filled with vivid anecdotes from fascinating contemporary and historical figures, All the Single Ladies is destined to be a classic work of social history and journalism. Exhaustively researched, brilliantly balanced, and told with Traister's signature wit and insight, this book should be shelved alongside Gail Collins's When Everything Changed"--

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  • Put Your Hands Up!

    5 out of 5

    Written by , Posted on at 11:37:53 AM

    Ms. Traister interviewed close to 100 women about what it means to be single (virgin, celibate, widowed, divorced, separated, never married, etc.). Interwoven through those candid revelations are factual accounts of the historical, political, religious, sociological and martial events that shaped and defined womanhood and how single women have shaped and defined history. The book is a wonder and an eye-opening account. The strides women have made to acquire autonomy have been both detrimental and advantageous. For every battle we’ve won, there have been losses by the wayside. You’re great in the workplace and make as much money or more than a man? Be prepared to find the guys running away from you! (Still, if you’re not looking to be hitched but only want a good time, you’ll find plenty of eager takers.) But the triumphs have far outweighed the defeats. Ms. Traister posits that it’s been to the good for men and women to have female status elevated to that of men. With both men and women in the workplace, the burden for wage earner has been, if not lifted from men, then shared with women. Women can be employed and men can be the doting fathers they’ve secretly wanted to be. Win, win. The warnings from conservatives that giving women the vote, equal pay, paid maternity leave as well as the ability to have babies with IVF would prove disastrous for mankind in general are spread within these pages as well. Ms. Traister avoids the trap of making these people seem like villainous tyrants; you understand why they fear change. Of course, matters will change for those in power if the underclass is allowed access to all the goodies they wish to keep for themselves. But is that necessarily a bad thing? Ms. Traister doesn’t give us definitive answers but it’s clear from her writing that the prognostication is one of hope for all of us. This book was never dull, tedious or too heavy. It stemmed, after all, from conversations with real women and that human element meant that it was a pleasure to read from beginning to…well, not the end. We single ladies have made significant goals but there’s always more to do, more to accomplish, more to see. No rings on these fingers, no chains on these wrists.