Ms. Traister interviewed close to 100 women about what it means to be single (virgin, celibate, widowed, divorced, separated, never married, etc.). Interwoven through those candid revelations are factual accounts of the historical, political, religious, sociological and martial events that shaped and defined womanhood and how single women have shaped and defined history.
The book is a wonder and an eye-opening account. The strides women have made to acquire autonomy have been both detrimental and advantageous. For every battle we’ve won, there have been losses by the wayside. You’re great in the workplace and make as much money or more than a man? Be prepared to find the guys running away from you! (Still, if you’re not looking to be hitched but only want a good time, you’ll find plenty of eager takers.)
But the triumphs have far outweighed the defeats. Ms. Traister posits that it’s been to the good for men and women to have female status elevated to that of men. With both men and women in the workplace, the burden for wage earner has been, if not lifted from men, then shared with women. Women can be employed and men can be the doting fathers they’ve secretly wanted to be. Win, win.
The warnings from conservatives that giving women the vote, equal pay, paid maternity leave as well as the ability to have babies with IVF would prove disastrous for mankind in general are spread within these pages as well. Ms. Traister avoids the trap of making these people seem like villainous tyrants; you understand why they fear change. Of course, matters will change for those in power if the underclass is allowed access to all the goodies they wish to keep for themselves. But is that necessarily a bad thing? Ms. Traister doesn’t give us definitive answers but it’s clear from her writing that the prognostication is one of hope for all of us.
This book was never dull, tedious or too heavy. It stemmed, after all, from conversations with real women and that human element meant that it was a pleasure to read from beginning to…well, not the end. We single ladies have made significant goals but there’s always more to do, more to accomplish, more to see. No rings on these fingers, no chains on these wrists.