A comprehensive history of the single woman in America, well researched and densely written. The student of women’s studies will find much that is familiar and much more that is new. I think Traister begins with a slight bias against marriage which over time grows into a realization that it isn’t marriage per se so much that keeps ’em barefoot and pregnant down on the farm, it’s early marriage and she’s got the studies and statistics and interviews to back it up.
I was unaware of how far women including single women had come before World War II and well aware of how relatively hard and fast their power fell immediately afterward. It’s almost like someone flipped a switch. It would be worthwhile to pinpoint that moment in time when Rosie the Riveter was booted out of the C-47 factory all the way back that nice ranch-style home in the suburbs, where the newly invented washing machine and dryer were going to be enough to keep her happy popping out babies one after the other. Those women must have been just enraged, and no way to show it without violating social, religious and even governmental shibboleths right, left and center. No wonder the women’s movement hit so hard in the 60s, there was bound to be a backlash from all that suppression.
All the mothers in my book club are making their daughters read this book. The best thing is the recognition of all the different paths now open to women, if only the women are aware those paths (and traps, because there are still massive traps) still exist. Recommended. My only quibble is where the hell is the index?
All my Goodreads reviews here.