I’ve been a Rebecca Traister fan for a long time, ever since I saw the feminist political journalist interview one of my idols, the late Nora Ephron, at the 92nd Street Y nearly a decade ago (could that have been a more NYC event?). Needless to say, I was thrilled to interview Traister about her new, very fabulous, New York Times bestseller, All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation.
The book is a superb piece of reporting that took Traister five years to complete, and I cannot recommend it enough. Pegged on the news that the 2008 presidential elections were largely influenced by unmarried women, the book details the history of unmarried women in the United States, and highlights how, given economic power and social acceptance, women in large numbers tend to chose life without husbands. A revelation!
Reading this book came at an important time in my own life, as I find I have settled into my single status in a new way. Suddenly, a long-term, committed, monogamous heterosexual relationship just doesn’t resonate as the Shangri-La of adulthood that it once did for me — a sentiment that Traister validates. All the Single Ladies recounts centuries of the political and social marginalization of single women (despite women’s inclination to embrace it), as well as contemporary trends like women initiating the vast majority of divorces (and being grossly less content inside traditional marriages than men), the single-mom-by-choice movement, and the embrace of young women’s sexual promiscuity (a la’ Girls and Sex and the City).
We also discuss:
- Why the Chicago Tribune, in its review of All the Single Ladies, honed in so sharply on the fact Traister, a married mom of two, was a virgin until age 24.
- How women have such cooler lives now that we are financially, sexually and socially free from the ties of marriages.
- Where and how do men fit into this scene?
- That, despite my greedy, thrilled consumption of every page of this book, I was disappointed that it ignored the topic of sexuality and motherhood — the last frontier in feminism, in my (unwritten) book.