Families as they really are risman online dating
Traister offers a lengthy, detailed antidote to the more common assertion or implication that young women are hurting themselves most of all (in the long run) by not making marriage a priority. Its unstated focus on youth and on women delaying marriage (more than never marrying) hampers its results.
There are other limits too: heterosexuality is assumed, and while Traister makes good-faith efforts to diversify her informants and her historical examples in terms of racial belonging, and has one chapter devoted to poor single women, her attention remains focused on single women like herself—white, well-educated, savvy enough to advance into worthwhile paid employment and to conclude their youthful singleness by marrying happily.
Throughout the book, Traister’s tone is focused and thoughtful, but never once does it feel as though she is seeking praise or recognition for being racially conversant—for telling the story of women in America as it should be told.
In this era of white privilege and white tears, assessed wokeness, and cookies for getting it right, it’s both refreshing and timely for such a book to stand on its own merits of journalistic excellence, intersectional clarity, and cultural sophistication.
Enter: opens with Anita Hill’s story of her testimony against future Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, “and by the end of the first chapter, Traister has effectively cited Eleanor Holmes Norton, Queen Latifah, Terry Mc Millan and Shirley Chisholm (four black women) alongside Gloria Steinem, Candace Bushnell, Betty Friedan and Sandra Fluke (four white women).” “The story of single women,” writes Traister, “is the story of the country” (36).
She continues, “The intensity of resistance to these women is rooted in the (perhaps unconscious) comprehension that their expanded power signals social and political rupture as profound as the invention of birth control, as the sexual revolution, as the abolition of slavery, as women's suffrage and the feminist, civil rights, gay rights, and labor movements” (36).
The author’s own gladly acknowledged trajectory goes from thriving in singlehood in her twenties and early thirties to finding the right man and marrying.
Many (I haven’t counted, but I suspect it is most) of her interviewees and examples from the past either take that path or it is implied that they will.
Traister credits young women with making choices that are rational and self-advancing, and not surprisingly, gratefulness dominates young unmarried women’s online discussion of the book because it validates, so they say, the way they live now.
I would argue that this is due in large part to the presumption that institutionalized feminism belongs to white women, and that the inclusion of other races and ethnicities is by invitation or as a favor, rather than a shared narrative.
As a black woman and a feminist (although my feminism is less an activist effort and more an obvious existence in that being a woman is quite frankly the easiest part of my identity, and, as such, that I am equal to men is an unassailable truth), I find this exclusion, this tacit hierarchy and blatant erasure, troubling.
Because ultimately, the way forward for feminism is both to reject the notion of a uniform vision or experience and to celebrate the range and multitude of voices therein.
Rebecca Carroll is a producer of special projects focusing on race at WNYC/New York Public Radio, among them the critically acclaimed podcast on gentrification in Brooklyn, There Goes the Neighborhood.