All the Single Ladies

All the Single Ladies

Unmarried Women and the Rise of An Independent Nation

Book - 2016
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Baker & Taylor
A National Magazine Award-finalist and outspoken feminist reveals that the concept of a powerful single woman, often perceived as a modern phenomenon, is not a new idea and explores the options, besides traditional marriage, that were historically available to women.

& Taylor

Examines the history of unmarried women in the United States to reveal that the concept of a powerful single woman, often perceived as a modern phenomenon, is not a new idea and explores the options, besides traditional marriage, that were historically available to women.

Simon and Schuster

The New York Times bestselling investigation into the sexual, economic, and emotional lives of women is “an informative and thought-provoking book for anyone—not just the single ladies—who want to gain a greater understanding of this pivotal moment in the history of the United States” (The New York Times Book Review).

In 2009, award-winning journalist Rebecca Traister started All the Single Ladies 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 married by age twenty-nine, compared to nearly sixty percent in 1960.

“An informative and thought-provoking book for anyone—not just single ladies” (The New York Times Book Review), All the Single Ladies is a remarkable portrait of contemporary American life and how we got here, through the lens of the unmarried American woman. Covering class, race, sexual orientation, and filled with vivid anecdotes from fascinating contemporary and historical figures, “we’re better off reading Rebecca Traister on women, politics, and America than pretty much anyone else” (The Boston Globe).

Publisher: New York :, Simon & Schuster,, 2016
ISBN: 9781476716565
Characteristics: xii, 339 pages ; 23 cm


From the critics

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Mar 12, 2021

Finished Feb '21

Dec 12, 2020

What I learned from this book is 1. In our history there were many brave single women who stood up to societal and religious norms and advanced women's standing in the society at large. 2. I learned that many educated women if they marry at all, marry very late in their 30's or 40's or even later. 3. There is a trend among women to remain single. and 4. Lots of statistics on marriage rates among Whites, Blacks and Latinos.

What is missing from the book is the role of Religions - Christianity, Judaism and Islam in keeping women suppressed in every possible way for 1000's of years. Even today they still keep doing this!

Also missing is the fact that a household with a team of people (doesn't need to be married) is far more resilient to individual illness, or other emergencies.
Also the individuals interviewed don't represent the society at large! Each woman is an individual, not a statistic!

Jun 08, 2020

This is good! Well researched! Makes you think about societal ideals of how and why women are valued.

The Between the Lines Book Group will be reading All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of An Independent Nation in May 2020.

Jan 12, 2019

This is my favorite nonfiction book that I read in 2018. Rebecca is an exceptional writer, which makes this a pretty easy read. I appreciated her balancing the examples and stories she used by using both historical and current ones. I found myself writing down many favorite quotes. Ultimately, I couldn’t recommend this book enough.

Nov 02, 2018

Great book.

Sep 16, 2018

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.

Apr 01, 2018

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.

Sep 30, 2017

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.

May 30, 2017

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.

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Dec 27, 2018

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.


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