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 and how 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.""
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-01-18
- Reviewer: Staff
Incorporating a lively slew of perspectives of single ladies past and present, Traister (Big Girls Don’t Cry) conducts a nuanced investigation into the sexual, economic, and emotional lives of women in America and the opportunities available when marriage is no longer “the measure of female existence.” She takes into account the realities of loneliness, poverty, delayed reproduction, and childlessness that make singlehood difficult for some, as she fills out the picture with subjects across the spectrum of color and class, dismantling the persistent myths about female desire and ambition with earnest energy and facts. Traister is funny and fair in how she deals with the prevalent stereotypes and remaining stigmas attached to being an unmarried woman in society. She sticks to her central argument that the world is changing and policies need to catch up to the social reality. The result is an invigorating study of single women in America with refreshing insight into the real life of the so-called spinster. Agent: Linda Loewenthal, the Loewenthal Company. (Mar.)