Thursday, July 7, 2016

"All the Single Ladies" by Rebecca Traister

FTC disclaimer: I received a free e-ARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. I checked out the audiobook through Overdrive from my public library. 

Since I finished them both, I have been recommending Aziz Ansari's "Modern Romance" and Christian Rudder's "Dataclysm" together. They tackle the same topic, modern dating, in different research-based ways. They're basically the same book, but the former is told with more anecdotal, focus group-style social science and the latter is told through big data. You can read one and get the message of both if you're not up for two books on the same topic. But now, I've found the better complementary read to either of those books - Rebecca Traister's "All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation." Sure we're all dating differently with the rise of technology, but more and more women are also living alone and this is having profound effects on society. And maybe it should be having even more.

Traister explores the history of and recent increase in women embracing their singledom and living lives independently, whether by choice or circumstance. She discusses how this segment of the population has always existed, and how it is experienced differently in different demographic groups (while acknowledging that her interviewees skewed toward the college-educated). She discusses how women today come to live single lives for a variety of reasons - from conscious choice to unintended circumstances to a messy mixture of the two. The book covers a lot of ground. And she does this all without shaming anyone for their life choices or path. She shares stories from, and advocates for, all women, providing a vehicle for understanding and methods of supporting everyone's life choices. 

Most importantly, Traister explains how longstanding policies assume everyone aspires to marriage, or explicitly incentivize coupling up. She provides alternatives and policy goals to be pursued to ensure that women who do live alone are able to prosper. She convincingly makes the point that this segment of the population is growing and shows no signs of stopping. As a nation we should embrace them and get out of their way, making sure they have the resources they need to live healthy, happy lives, no matter the ultimate shape they take.

Verdict: Affirmed. Everyone should check out this book for an update on the state of women in America and how we can better support all women in their life choices. 

"All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation" by Rebecca Traister, published March 1, 2016 by Simon & Schuster. Audio narration by Candace Thaxton, published March 1, 2016 by Simon & Schuster Audio.

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