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 21st-century phenomenon of the American single woman. It was the year the proportion of American women who were married dropped below 50 percent, and the median age of first marriages, which had remained between 20 and 22 years old for nearly a century (1890-1980), had risen dramatically to 27.
But over the course of her vast research and more than 100 interviews with academics, 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 20 percent of Americans are wed by age 29, compared to nearly 60 percent in 1960. The Population Reference Bureau calls it a "dramatic reversal".
All the Single Ladies is a remarkable portrait of contemporary American life and how we got here, through the lens of the single American woman. Covering class, race, and 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' When Everything Changed.
©2016 Rebecca Traister (P)2016 Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Perfect blend of history, social policy and human anecdote. The most life affirming book I've read (listened to) in a long time. Puts so much so clearly.
"Excellent book, destroyed by narration"
I would highly recommend this book in its written form. Except for the author's introduction, read very well by her, I was unable to tolerate the affected way the narrator read the book. I tried for several hours because the topic was so important to me and the book was so beautiful articulated in its depth and perspective about the state of single women in our culture.
The narrator probably has a lovely voice, but she choose to read at a clipped, authoritative cadence that was officious and very off putting. I had recommended this book to a close friend and she had the same experience. I have listened to several hundred audible books and this one was the first one I could not finish!
I hope you will consider reformatting this book with a different narrator.
"First time I've given a book 5 stars in years"
If you have chosen not to marry or have kids, this is the book for you! You'll finally see yourself represented! Traister also writes at length about women who have chosen to defer marriage and children until their 30s in order to concentrate on their careers (usually), and women who find themselves unmarried and/or childless by happenstance.
I very much enjoyed the history, the statistics, the stories of the women she interviewed as well as Traister's own experience.
The writing was excellent as was the audio narrator.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
Thank you Rebecca Traister for this book! As a 40-something divorced mother of five, I have struggled to find my identity outside of my traditional marriage. This book feels like a roadmap or at least guideposts to how to be a woman at this phase of my life! I am also sharing what I am learning with my two adult daughters. It's empowering to have a modern compendium of excellent women to turn to in 2016!
"A must-read for every man"
This is the most influential book/piece of journalism I have read on women in my adult life. That might mean I need to "get out more", but to say it has reshaped my views (as a man) on women, marriage, and singlehood would be an understatement. Even the relationships between the female members of my family and I have improved drastically in the last few weeks.
I'm terrible at reviews, I don't care.
MEN, PLEASE READ THIS BOOK.
"Readable and Thoughtful"
“All the Single Ladies” aims to trace the history and current landscape of expanding options for single women. Traister opens the book with the story of Anita Hill. Throughout, Traister considers the disparity in choice and realities experienced by white women and women of color. She tells of four black women, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Queen Latifah, Terry McMillan and Shirley Chisholm and four white women, Gloria Steinem, Candace Bushnell, Betty Friedan and Sandra Fluke. Traister also includes Latina and Asians. Traister discusses education, employment, money, marriage and motherhood. Traister goes into the invention of birth control and its effect on women and society. Traister points out that financial solvency is central to independence.
Traister is a journalist; therefore, the book is well written and researched. Traister tells of the new generation of women who are well educated, have professions and careers. I obtained lots of great trivia questions and answers from reading this book. Candace Thaxton did a fair job narrating the book.
"At the top of my all-time favourites list"
Traister writes charmingly and with a depth of knowledge on the various aspects of what it means to be single in both the U.S. and, to an extent, the larger world. In this one book, Traister cohesively brings together the inputs and outputs that make unmarried life desirable, challenging and (un)intentional, articulating how it all connects and the resulting implications.
It already belongs to the subtitle it needs.
Beyond the remarkable execution, this book speaks to everything that is in me; it voices my hopes, fears, and the realities that inform the life that I've cultivated and have observed in the women that I most respect. Traister (and Candace Thaxton for her audio presentation of the material) has my deepest and hearty thanks.
"Great book! Horrible narrator!"
This is a great book with some amazing research - lots of quotes and Facebook worthy posting for my younger friends, too. My only issue was with the narrator. I almost quit listening on several occasions. She read with a snarky "sing-song" tone with intentional over emphasis on important quotes that was distracting at best. I don't know if I just grew accustomed to it, or, if she got better in the final chapters, but it did seem less noticeable later.
"Finished It, But Rather Disappointed"
I'm not sure. As a 31 year old single woman I thought I would relate more to the subject, but the book spends a lot of time on single mothers and even when discussing non-mothers, there were only a few short-lived moments where I thought, "That's me." I felt the book meandered through topics without a clear point. There were times, especially in the historical overview in the beginning, when I felt she relied on quotes from other texts so much and added so little herself that I should have just read those books. At other times, it was almost the complete reverse and she would make a claim with no evidence to support it. There were still other moments when she seemed to completely ignore or gloss over topics, gender census data, violence against women, and masturbation are just a few that come to mind. As an example, I had read Come As You Are by Emily Nogaski shortly before this which details the science of women's sexuality and I found it rather short-sighted of this book to limit single women's sex lives to vaginal intercourse with multiple male partners. Especially, when vaginal intercourse risks disease, pregnancy, and is painful for many women and doesn't lead to orgasm. Overall, I would recommend Come As You Are over this, even though I did feel it focused a bit too much on couples (nobody's perfect), the "wow-I-didn't-know-that-how-did-I-not-know-that" moments were huge.
"Well researched and well narrated"
A very interesting social history books, covering the sociological, economic, sexual, political, and educational aspects of single women in history and their rise in proportion in the present day. The book largely does a good job interweaving its statistics and history with narratives from a number of women (those single by choice, and those single by circumstance; and those who lived a portion of their life single before entering into late marriages or partnerships). There are a few passages where they author's opinion hampers her ability to fully explain circumstances and statistics (for example, there is some ridicule in the tone when recounting that presidential hopeful Mitt Romney mentioned marriage as a solution to crime, but there is strong evidence that married men commit less crime and have lower testosterone levels meaning they are less aggressive). The fact is, there are some drawbacks to the increase of women remaining unmarried, and where the book does not honestly and fully address this, it falls short. However, the book mostly attempts to paint a full picture, making clear that the singleness of highly educated and highly paid women is a very different experience from many minority women and/or impoverished women. The book also makes clear that being single both opens doors and opportunities, allowing women to lead fuller lives charted by their own goals and aspirations, but also that there can be shortcomings, including loneliness and societal backlash. In the end, it was refreshing and empowering to read the stories of many women who, like myself, made a conscious decision to chart their own path, to be child-free by choice, and to eschew marriage as the end of their story. And the fact that their are trade offs, that the positives come with negatives, does not negate the desire to live in a world where women (and men) have the choice to marry or not marry, to start families or to remain unencumbered, to live fulfilled lives that are not carbon copies of lives a century ago.
The organization of the book is excellent. At times it seemed to wander away from its theme, but just when I began to notice, there was a change in topic or a new chapter.
I've heard the author speak and this lead to my only complaint about the recording (not about the book). The author is a grown woman in her late thirties, maybe early forties and she sounds knowledgeable and mature in that way, like a professor. But the author adopted a much younger persona, like that of a younger woman in her mid- to late twenties. It was incongruous. It didn't do justice to Traister's scholarship.
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