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Beyoncé Week: 'All the Single Ladies' author talks Beyoncé and feminist empowerment

Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister



(Welcome to Beyoncé Week, our countdown to Beyoncé's concert on Friday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. For all our Beyoncé Week coverage, click here.)

In March, cultural critic Rebecca Traister published All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation, borrowing its title from one of Beyoncé's biggest hits. Traister writes about politics, media and entertainment from a feminist perspective for New York magazine and other publications. Her new book is both a history of single women in the United States and a wide-ranging, thoughtful, often surprising look at what it means to be a single woman today.

In a recent interview, Traister said she chose to use Beyoncé's song as her book title in part because "at that point the song was so big. And my first book had a song title" (Big Girls Don't Cry, about women in the 2008 election).

But there was more to it. The inclusive title, she said, "summed up exactly what I wanted to do in the book," looking at the many different kinds of singlehood across race, class, educational levels and many other factors, not just the single lives of, say, the privileged white women in Sex and the City.

And, Traister said, Beyoncé herself is a feminist icon and, before her marriage, was an example of the new single woman — empowered by the ability to choose whether to marry or not rather than forced to out of economic necessity.

In the book, Traister wrote:

"One of pop star Beyoncé's first interviews after marrying hip-hop star Jay Z, whose given name is Shawn Carter, was to Seventeen Magazine, the type of young women's publication that fifty years ago advised them as to how to land a husband before getting too old. Beyoncé had a different message, and spoke about how, when she started dating Carter at nineteen, she intentionally postponed marriage. 'I really don't believe that you will love the same thing when you're twenty, as you do at thirty,' she said. 'So, that was my rule: before the age of twenty-five, I would never get married. I feel like you have to get to know yourself, know what you want, spend some time by yourself, and be proud of who you are before you can share that with someone else.' When Beyoncé and Jay Z did marry, in 2008, she was twenty-six, and internationally famous on her own terms."

[Last modified: Thursday, April 28, 2016 10:27am]


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