Bachelor Girl: The Secret History of Single Women in the 20th Century

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9781854109309: Bachelor Girl: The Secret History of Single Women in the 20th Century

Journalist Betsy Israel chronicles the ever-changing life of the single woman since the late-1800s. Drawing extensively on primary sources, including private journals, newspaper stories, magazine articles, advertisements, films and television programmes, Israel paints a vivid portrait of single women - and the way they were perceived - from the late-19th century to the turn of the 21st. From the Bowery girls of New York and the flappers of the Roaring Twenties to the working women of the War years and the "ballbreaking" career woemn of the 1980s, single women have long had an uneasy relationship with the rest of society. The author shines a light on the (often quite ludicrous) old stereotypes that have been used to keep single women in their place, and celebrates their spirit and resourcefulness in the face of condemnation and contempt from commentators anxious that unattached females might undermine the social fabric.

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About the Author:

Betsy Israel is a journalist and former editor who has contributed to publications including the New York Times, Elle, GQ, Rolling Stone and Vogue. She is also the author of numerous screenplays. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and two children.

From Publishers Weekly:

While historians have studied various subsets of women working class, professional, radical, etc., little attention has been paid to the single woman. As journalist Israel documents in this impressive history of single women in America from the Industrial Revolution to modern times, these women have maintained a flourishing subculture, despite attacks and ridicule by the media. While focusing primarily on white, middle-class Manhattan women, Israel draws on a variety of sources, movies, popular novels, magazine and newspaper features that shape the single-woman experience for the broader population. "B-girls" bachelor or bohemian, have always been with us, some from lack of marriage prospects, true, but many by preference. Israel says it's mainly the appeal of the companionship of other women and the desire for independence from marital suppression that keeps these women from tying the knot. Social acceptance of singletons has flip-flopped over the generations. Positive icons, including the emancipated New Woman, settlement house professionals, WWII's Rosie the Riveter, and liberated '70s "chicks," have alternated with scary images of frigid, lonely Old Maids staring at their used-up biological clocks. But even as social critics have changed their tunes about how much rope to allow these women, the women themselves brave factory girls, Bowery Girls, "shoppies," Greenwich Village bohemians, flappers, Murphy Browns and Bridget Joneses have been tough enough to have it "their way." Israel's witty and provocative look at a topic dear to many women deserves wide readership.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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