Monday, December 19, 2016

All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister *****

Who said this?
"I'll never run for office. I'm too aggressive, and nobody will ever vote for me."
As everyone realizes, this would have to be a lady, no man would ever say something like this. Regardless, as explored in All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister, much else is changing for women.
"In 2010, women held the majority of all jobs in the country, along with 51% of all management positions. About a third of the nation's doctors are female, and 45 percent of its lawyers. ... The percentage of not just bachelor's degrees, but also master's, law, medical, and doctoral degrees being awarded to women is the highest it has ever been."
In addition, women are delaying marriage and children, and thus accruing more power, wealth, and independence. Even with extensive references to the misogynistic conservative press, when published in March 2016, much of this volume supported the inevitability of a different result in the November election than actually happened.

As a baby boomer, I've had my personal confusion and anxiety with the increase in childless, single women. I highly recommend this book to anxious grandparents-in-waiting. It delivers the promise of hope, understanding, and empathy for these changes in the wrought by feminism.

This an exhaustive volume of history and analysis. Some topics are very optimistic: many important women have been single and/or childless. Other topics are very discouraging: progress is mostly restricted to affluent white women. As might be expected, history tends to be depressing:
"... the Cult of Single Blessedness [19th century]  ... women unmarried by chance or by choice had their own acceptable submissive purpose."
In addition to progress being restricted to affluent whites, it is also geographically restricted to large liberal cities like New York.

As might be expected, the book moves up and down from the joys, opportunities, and fulfillment of a single life, to the poignant sorrow of living alone. In one anecdote, a young lady went out dancing and injured her shoulder. When she finally arrived home, she had to sleep in her party dress as it buttoned up the back and she could no longer reach them buttons, ... and there was no one to help her.

Mini-rant follows: In a celebration of the inevitability of the rise of feminist success and power, an extensive section of the book reiterates every anti-feminist argument confident that these ideas will be swept into the dustbin of history along with those against suffrage, financial rights, same-sex marriage, etc.

In retrospect, I read this optimism as arrogance. The book foreshadows the November election with its emphasis on large cities and white affluence, never seeming to realize the implications of this narrow vision.

In the end, this book is as much a eulogy and a celebration.

Well written, well researched, and vaguely optimistic.

Who said, "I'll never run for office. I'm too aggressive, and nobody will ever vote for me?"

Why, HRC, of course.

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