#cbr11bingo – Not My Wheelhouse
My usual reading is children and teen fiction or comic books, so I figured adult non-fiction would be a good opposite for me. But in order to get through that I did pick a subject I am interested in. I have been quite single for most of my life, and lately I’ve been feeling particularly odd-woman out amongst my throngs of married friends and acquaintances. I tried Kate Bolick’s Spinster and sort of hated it. But this one held more promise for me, and delivered on that promise (interestingly, the book quoted Bolick several times but her contributions worked better in this than her memoir.)
Traister discusses the increase in single life among women since the turn of the 20th century to today. The book isn’t just about women who never marry but about women marrying later and how living single longer has impacted them and America. Traister interviewed single women (or long-single women) from many walks of life as well as shares words and anecdotes from historically and socially significant single women. Through their stories and a bit of her own, she discusses how single women have driven political and social change, how they have been perceived as a huge threat, and the diversity of experience among them from friendships to relationships to motherhood.
This was a very readable book and was the perfect thing for me to read right now. I recognized myself in many stories and learned more about women whose shoes I can’t possibly walk in. (Traister gives the mic to women of color a lot, and it is no surprise that they’ve born the fuzziest end of the lollipop.) Most of the stories are relatively nonfamous folks’ but she also shares a lot from Anita Hill and Gloria Steinem among others. Some parts that resonated with me in particular include:
- Elliot, a 40-year-old novelist on being single amongst the marrieds: “I feel completely out of sync with my peers. […] I’m trying to figure out where the community is where I do belong. It’s tricky to confess you’re not sure where you fit without sounding like you’re whining about not having a partner.”
- A quote from Evelyn Cunningham: “Women are the only oppressed group in our society that lives in intimate association with their oppressors.”
- Just layers upon layers of how domesticity and marriage exist and are shoved down our throats to control women
I’d definitely recommend it as reading for any woman (or anyone wanting to get women better), regarless of single status.