Fans of narrative non-fiction, note this title. All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation by Rebecca Traister
I had noticed women seemed to be marrying at an older age than even one generation ago, but thought my observations might be an anomaly. But Traister’s research confirms women are delaying marriage. And I was interested to learn single women are outnumbering married women for the first time in history.
Including anecdotal evidence from women across different social standings gives weight to Traister’s data. Their stories are unique, their circumstances different, and the analysis of their personal relationships is fascinating. Some women date and have several long term relationships, but never marry. Some women focus on family and friends as their sources of support and intimacy. With changing attitudes towards families and technological advances in fertility, women feel more comfortable delaying marriage and starting families. Women are more likely to have the opportunity to focus on their education, careers, friendships, caregiver responsibilities, or whatever they choose. Reading candid observations of their life choices was fascinating, though I would have liked to see more input from women of lower income and more varied ethnic backgrounds.
Some anecdotes highlighted interesting things I didn’t think of when you think of single women living in a large city. The stereotype is lots of dating, time for drinks with close friends, shopping etc. (think Sex and the City). But one doesn’t think of the circumstances surrounding living alone like loneliness and boredom. Women are proud of their independence, but it can come with challenges, like the noted installation of an air conditioning unit in a walk up apartment in New York in 90 degree weather.
All the Single Ladies is getting some buzz on social media, so if you’re already on the waiting list, you might enjoy these reads while you wait:
Spinster by Kate Bolick “A single woman considers her life, the life of the bold single ladies who have gone before her, and the long arc of slowly changing attitudes towards women.” publisher
What Women Want : an agenda for the women’s movement by Deborah L. Rhode.
American women fare worse than men on virtually every major dimension of social status, financial well-being, and physical safety. Sexual violence remains common, and reproductive rights are by no means secure. Women assume disproportionate burdens in the home and pay a heavy price in the workplace. Despite a quarter century’s effort at reforming rape law, America’s rate of reported rape is the second highest in the developed world. Yet these issues are not political priorities. Nor is there a consensus that there still is a serious problem. Here, Deborah L. Rhode, one of the nation’s leading scholars on women and law, brings to the discussion a broad array of interdisciplinary research as well as interviews with heads of leading women’s organizations. Is the women’s movement stalled? What are its major obstacles? What are its key priorities and what strategies might advance them? In an age where many women are reluctant to identify as feminists, a broad-ranging, expert look at where American women are today is more necessary than ever. This path-breaking book explores how women can and should act on what they want.–From publisher description.
Otherhood by Melanie Notkin
“The rising percentage of childless women is one of the most overlooked and underappreciated social issues of our time. Never before have more women lived longer before having their first child or remained childless toward the end of their fertility. Nearly half of North American women of childbearing age are childless–a dramatic rise from 35 percent in 1976–yet childless women are still perceived as the exception, not the norm. In Otherhood, Melanie Notkin explores this modern phenomenon to understand the reasons for this shift, the social and emotional impact of childlessness, and how the ‘new normal’ will impact social structures in the decades to come. By turns anecdotal storytelling, inspiration, reportage, and manifesto, Otherhood gets at the heart of our social consciousness around childlessness to trigger thought-provoking conversation. Notkin’s intimate take on the trend affecting so many modern women is a groundbreaking exploration of this essential social issue”–From publisher.
All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation by journalist Rebecca Traister is a study of the socioeconomic conditions and impacts surrounding the increase in single women in the U.S. Meticulously researched Traister condenses a complex history of singlehood into an enjoyable read. She meets the goal of all narrative non-fiction writers – to make your reader feel like they’re reading a story, not a piece of non-fiction.