Saturday, February 20, 2016

Winter Reading 2016 All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation


A woman's place is in the home. A man brings home the bacon. There are many such sayings or societal expectations. Rebecca Traister has taken the time to read numerous studies and reports, as well as interviewing women of various ages, occupations, and cities of residence. In her study of single women in the United States, she has found that there are an incredible variety of circumstances that women who are not in a traditional marriage with children. She explores the reasons why women choose to remain single, why they remain single involuntarily, etc. along with their feelings about having children or not, and if they think they will do so with a partner or without. Within the data Traister has sifted through, there are reports going back through the 20th century from both sides of the debate (those who expect women to follow the expected path of marriage and children, and those who are curious about the growing independence of single women). 

The discussion is lively and captivating. The statistics (an area many people find stultifying), are used to trace the changes of society's makeup over time periods throughout history. It is amazing to see the ebb and flow of the numbers of single women over the years. For instance, many women living in the eastern U.S. were left without men to marry when a great number of the able-bodied men headed west for the Gold Rush and western pioneer life. Then again, women moved into the work force in great numbers during the war years (think of Rosie the Riveter), and then there was an upsurge of marriages as men returned home from the front lines. It is very interesting to read and watch the developments over the years that have led to today's situation with women choosing to stay single or to focus on their careers during their earlier adulthood, putting off marriage and families until later on.

If you are interested in social theory or explorations of historical trends, then this can be added to your to-be-read pile. I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

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