"When people call single women selfish for the act of tending to themselves, it's important to remember that the very acknowledgement that women have selves that exist independently of others, and especially independent of husbands and children, is revolutionary."
Say it louder for the people in the back, Rebecca! I've definitely been called selfish by someone for not being ready to have children. I've been side-eyed for proudly expressing how much I enjoy my life as an un-partnered woman. Thank God my skin has grown thicker over the years because this whole idea that every woman is supposed to desperately desire marriage and motherhood is ridiculous. I'm grateful for Rebecca Traister's book, All The Single Ladies because it sheds a big, bright flood light on our bad habit of boxing the genders into certain roles and expectations, especially women, which can intimidate a person from bringing their whole self into a potential relationship. At this point in my life, I believe that it's vital to let men and women to live life on their own terms. No one says you have to like it but please spare us your judgement.
Finally a book about me.
I've been reading all these books on feminism and none of them really express me. They are mostly doom and gloom, about how far we have to go or about how it should be better by now or how feminist has become a dirty word.
This book comes at the story with a more positive spin. While the author acknowledges the difficulties and the improvements required, she doesn't dwell on them excessively. She writes about how the single woman is changing the world just be existing. By bringing a different perspective, by having different priorities, by being independent, by delaying marriage, by getting married (or not) for different reasons.
She writes about how we are creating our own types of families and they can be with girlfriends, or a social group, or multiple monogamous partners, or friends with benefits, or the single celibate life. That because women have options they are choosing to exercise those rights, by not marrying, by not having kids, by having children alone and by getting married later than ever.
And that because we are creating this new demographic, we are becoming powerful. Politicians have to take note that we care and we vote and we have different ideas about what we want. Companies have realized that there are single women with more disposable income than ever before, and some of us want to spoil ourselves.
Just by living our lives the way we want to, we're changing the way things are done, and the way things are thought of. And maybe the more we do whatever we want, the more the culture will have to change to accommodate us. And maybe the government can see it's way to some incentives for single people, instead of just the married people.
I found this book to be an engaging nonfiction read. As a woman in my mid/late 20s in a committed relationship, the question of marriage is pervasive in my social circles (IRL and online). I find myself having a reflexive reaction against the idea of marriage - what is the point in today's era of living with partners and divorcing at will? Is marriage not just a legal document that can be easily reversed? What difference does it make - commitment is commitment, married or not. A marriage appears to be a relationship starting with a big expensive party and often ending in divorce.
I enjoyed reading about many perspectives both for and against marriage, as well as reading about the idea of the changing nature of marriage. The book delves into how there is a slow but sure shift away from the traditional concept of marriage and towards recreating marriage as an arrangement with many variations to suit the couple. I liked this perspective that encourages women to create their own picture without trying to emulate the traditional (often unsuccessful) forms of coupling.
I also appreciated the voice given to different races, sexualities, and classes of women. This offered me a few new perspectives and insights into women I might not readily relate to. I do agree with another comment here that there is an relatively strong focus on the type of lifestyle you might find with "career women in New York" that isn't always relatable. But the author does make an obvious effort to temper that with other stories.
Finally, be warned that this is most certainly a focus on American women and history. I would like to read a similar book written about Canadian or international views of marriage.
Great review of women's growing choices to marry or not, to have children or not, etc. Traister has a good sense of humor and her snapshots of women are usually entertaining and well-written. What I thought of when I read this book is that women still waste so much energy in defending their choices as they create a life that provides fullness and relationships. Still, each generation of women have it easier, and it was heartening to read about the pioneers who fought and persevered. Love to see my generation get pay equity.
Author interviewed scores of still single women in a growing American demographic, comparing them to earlier women in the first and second waves of feminism.
I’ll admit to being part of the second wave so not perhaps this book’s primary audience. Sometimes the author celebrated her own New York City story a bit too much. While stories were sometimes interesting I had a hard time seeing what her point was. But, if the book inspires younger women to run for office or join efforts to make the changes still need for equality, I’m all for it. The Appendix has the laundry list of what still needs to happen!
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.
I am a happily single lady and I approve this message! If you're in the demographic being discussed here (which is to say women who for one reason or another who are not married/partnered) nothing here will be news to you. Women are marrying later in life than their parents did and single women outnumber married women in the united states for the first time. It is always affirming to see yourself in a piece of literature but it was also really interesting, and important, to read about women who don't often get any attention. In this case poor women and women of colour. Queer women could have done with a lot more attention but I give the author props for keeping this as even handed as possible.
As much as a lot of it was nothing new to me I am very glad this book exists and I hope people not in the demographic being discussed take a look at it as well.
Interesting historical perspective through present day, on the gains that women have and haven't made.
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