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Rebecca Traister: All The Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation

Posted in Book reviews, and Non-fiction

I have no right to complain about my life, yet even so I can (as many others) feel the weight of social pressure and expectations on my shoulders. Although there is no manual how to live a life, and it cannot be due to cultural, demographic and geographic differences, still it kind of seems like there are some unwritten rules all people should follow. Usually, it includes having the right gender, sexual orientation, family background, religion, education, body type – just to begin with. And then, it’s expected to find a partner, have a good job, get married, buy a property, get children and live a normal, flat life. But what if someone has a life contrasting the majority? What if this minority is becoming a significat element of social changes going on?

All The Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation took a daunting task: explore social changes regarding marital status, parenthood, careers and related financial issues. It examine reasons why there are growing numbers of unmarried people, what are pros and cons being outside of a marriage, the impact of having children on the financial situation, prejudices and many other topics. In short, a book full of insightful studies and observations.

I found fascinating all possible stances people can take towards single women. Based on the assumption that being single means being unlucky, weird or currently looking for another partner, there are situations beyond comprehension of many people. For some reason, there are these who don’t think a single woman can be recently widowed, divorced from an abusive partner or even not interested in being in a relationship. Surprisingly, it’s a quite a common thing, not only in a male population, however an attitude towards such women differes considerably. Women are most likely to be percieved as selfish, not knowing their priorities yet or their sexual orientation is being questioned, like it could anyhow matter. Things are even more aggravated when single living women happen to have children. Then they can be considered as unsuccessful in her life and relationships, less educated, probably gotten pregnant as a result of a one night stand. As far as I’m concerned, same standards don’t apply to single men, because they are probably “busy”, “just enjoying youth”, “building a career” or simply good old bachelors, without any negative undertone. When single men have children, their position is admired, appreciated and arouses sympathy.

Another very interesting fact mentioned in All The Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation, is about contribution of singles to the wider social wellbeing, e.g. caring about one’s parents, but also spending time by volunteering for organizations that do not benefit themselves. This raises question if single people are really that self-oriented as one may think.

I could go on and on, as you can see. All The Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation is an exceptional book, showing how much has demography changed within last decades, in comparision to the approach of society.

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