I am not sure how many of you have felt something similar to what I perceive now: ineffable and transcendent kinship with the author of a book as if the author and the book have enunciated everything that you ever wanted to say or hear. I am uncertain whether you have experienced an excitement that is so real that you feel like applauding by giving a standing ovation in solitude to the author. This book by Rebecca Traister has formulated a desire in me to meet her in person and convey my awe and adoration for her. I have made 70 highlights in this book, which is the maximum till date after I started using Amazon Kindle reader. I wish I could retrieve and use everything written in this book at appropriate times to make people understand the nuances of the the world of women, especially single women. This book by Rebecca Traister provides an answer based on facts,to every possible query that has beleaguered a contemplative single woman. It also has remarks and observations about many issues plaguing pensive human minds (of both men and women).
Rebecca Traister is an award winning journalist, living in Newyork, with her husband and kids. People tend to assume that only ‘unhappy-single- depressed- yearning for company souls’ would write about the history of single women. I want to specify the fact that she herself got married at 35 years after being single for quite a long time. Rebecca Traister has evidently established her talent in collection, presentation of facts and incorporating stories from women belonging to different fields. The interviews in this book are about women in general; women who are single, married but happy, married and unhappy, separated, divorced, feminists, conservatives etc etc. This book disentangled many of my own questions and thoughts. It sort of ‘legitimised’ many of my experiences and beliefs. It made me feel reassured that there are people out there in the world who view the world using exactly the same lens as yours, comforting you that you are not a ‘rare’ species . You are as human and real as people whose thoughts and lives fit perfectly into the norms and standard set by the society.
Rebecca Traister discusses the history and evolution of feminist movement in USA. She observes and reflects on the development and influence of single women as a major economic ,political and social force in the United States. The author herself does not take an inflexible stand in these matters. She has tried to provide facts and real life stories which express the myriads of ways different women see and perceive the world. Of course, this book does lack the perspectives of men on these issues. As an inquisitive reader, I would have loved as much to read about the observations and perspectives of men on problems faced by women.In the interview section at the end of the book, the author explains that all these years, people have listened to ideas of men on these issues and for a change she has incorporated interviews of women alone. I strongly feel that this book needs to be read, circulated and discussed among people. I was surprised to realise that the society in USA is not as progressive and women friendly as the media projects it to be. I noticed with a shock that the index for welfare of women in USA is much lower than that of countries like Sweden and Germany. I was startled to learn that single women were not allowed birth control pills in USA, when birth control pills were introduced. I was worried when I read the prejudiced and conservative opinion of Barack Obama on children growing up with single women as parent.
The suggestions provided by the author in terms of providing more social support and legislative changes which would create a favourable world for women, look promising. It is reassuring to know that the world has changed or rather is changing from the olden days when “A potential mate could more easily get away with offering only a pay check, a penis, and a pulse.” Now women, with the economic and social independence, are capable of deciding to wait till they find the mate of their choice instead of feeling pressurised to settle down with somebody not worthy of their life.
And to everyone who persuades and questions me about marriage or ‘settling down’ (I wonder how marriage and giving birth is considered a ‘settling down’ business, where in fact they can make life quite the opposite of settling down), this is my answer: “I don’t pursue people I am not crazy about because I am busy doing other things that I enjoy more than I enjoy being with men I am not crazy about!” I know my single girl friends whose hearts would resonate with the above words. I was making a mental list of all my friends, classifying them based on sex and marital status. I realised with extreme satisfaction that my single women friends lead more fulfilling lives, followed by my male married friends and lastly my married women friends.
People consider that motherhood is equivalent to womanhood. It is just an illusion and incapability of their minds to discern the differences between marriage, sex and children. Motherhood is not womanhood. Whether you marry or remain single, whether you give birth and rear a child or not, you are genetically a woman if you are carrying 22 autosomes and two X chromosomes (I do acknowledge the existence of 46,XY females who are psychologically female but genetically male ). Nobody else’s opinion can change this fact. Again, it is reassuring to know that, “There is a way to become a mother in this day and age that doesn’t include your name on the child’s birth certificate.”
Of course the author has truthfully narrated her personal story of having an engaging and highly fulfilling relationship with a girl friend and ultimately finding a man with whom she would raise her kids. She is not hesitant to admit that, “doggedly single woman’s mind can change with the emergence of a nice-looking man from a subway station’. She proves with examples that a “lifetime of identifying as a dependent wife can be thrown off at sixty-two”.
The success of an author cannot be measured by the ranking of the book in the best seller list or the number of awards won. Success is reflected by the number of doors of insight and wisdom that is opened up for the readers. I was totally moved when I saw Gloria Steinem, mentioned in many instances in this book, live on TV, demolishing Donald Trump and everything he stands for, last week at the Women’s March in Washington. Love you Rebecca for introducing Gloria Steinem and many others to me!
This book has unleashed my thoughts and words to such an extend that it has become difficult to stop writing about it. This book is a must read for women and men who try to see and underestimate the world through their own lives and who do not dare to step aside even for a nano second to see the world through the eyes of some one else. This book is a must read for anybody who is interested in the history of women in United states, which reflects to some extend, the history of women in other parts of the world. I don’t hope that reading this book would transform all pathetically-poor-patriarchy- conditioned-souls. But as my contribution to the world, I plan to gift this book to those confused men and women. I wish to drill a hole into their heads and implant these facts directly into their brains so that some amount of rewiring takes place and some new neuronal connections are made based on equality and justice for all.