All the Single Ladies

Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation

All the Single Ladies

A nuanced investigation into the sexual, economic, and emotional lives of women in America, this “singularly triumphant work” (Los Angeles Times) by Rebecca Traister “the most brilliant voice on feminism in the country” (Anne Lamott) is “sure to be vigorously discussed” (Booklist, starred review).

In 2009, the award-winning journalist Rebecca Traister started All the Single Ladies—a book she thought would be a work of contemporary journalism—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 wed by age twenty-nine, compared to nearly sixty percent in 1960. The Population Reference Bureau calls it a “dramatic reversal.” All the Single Ladies is a remarkable portrait of contemporary American life and how we got here, through the lens of the single American woman. Covering class, race, sexual orientation, and filled with vivid anecdotes from fascinating contemporary and historical figures, All the Single Ladies is destined to be a classic work of social history and journalism. Exhaustively researched, brilliantly balanced, and told with Traister’s signature wit and insight, this book should be shelved alongside Gail Collins’s When Everything Changed.
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 352 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476716565 | 
  • March 2016
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for All the Single Ladies includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Rebecca Traister. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

In a provocative and groundbreaking work, Rebecca Traister traces the history of unmarried and late-married women in America who have radically shaped our culture through political, social, and economic means.

When award-winning journalist Rebecca Traister started writing about the twenty-first century phenomenon of the American single woman, she thought that it would be a work of contemporary journalism. But over the course of more than a hundred interviews with social scientists, academics, and prominent single women, Traister discovered that the phenomenon of the single woman in America was far from new. In fact, she found that women having options beyond heterosexual marriage resulted in massive social changes, from abolition to temperance and beyond.

Destined to be a classic work of social history and journalism, All the Single Ladies is a fascinating look at contemporary American life and how we got here, through the lens of the single American woman.

Topics & Questions for Discussion see more

More Books from this Author

Journalist and Salon writer Rebecca Traister investigates the 2008 presidential election and its impact on American politics, women and cultural feminism. Examining the role of women in the campaign, from Clinton and Palin to Tina Fey and young voters, Traister confronts the tough questions of what it means to be a woman in today’s America.The 2008 campaign for the presidency reopened some of the most fraught American conversations—about gender, race and generational difference, about sexism on...

About the Author

Rebecca Traister
Photograph by Sarah Karnasiewicz

Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister is writer at large for New York magazine and a contributing editor at Elle. A National Magazine Award finalist, she has written about women in politics, media, and entertainment from a feminist perspective for The New Republic and Salon and has also contributed to The NationThe New York ObserverThe New York TimesThe Washington PostVogue, Glamour and Marie Claire. Traister’s first book, Big Girls Don’t Cry, about women and the 2008 election, was a New York Times Notable Book of 2010 and the winner of the Ernesta Drinker Ballard Book Prize. She lives in New York with her family. 

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