Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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p. vii

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Preface

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pp. ix-x

Never Married Women explores the lives of 50 women who have in common an uncommon marital status. I have written this book about them because I want others to learn, as I have, about the diversity of their experiences and perspectives. It is only by immersion in this variety that one can begin to comprehend the discrepancy...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiii

In preparing this study, my chief debt is to the 50 women who so willingly discussed their pasts and presents with me. Their generosity and curiosity make this book possible. So does their courage. I thank, also, three teachers. Professor Alice Rossi's dual passions for feminist political action and interdisciplinary women's...

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One: Being Marginal: The Single Woman as a Caricature

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pp. 1-28

In Anglo-American culture, the never-married old woman is a stock character, a bundle of negative personal characteristics, and a metaphor for barrenness, ugliness, and death. Her obvious undesirability forms the basis for the children's card game, "Old Maids;' in which each player tries to avoid coming to the end of the...

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Two: Being Single

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pp. 29-62

Clifford Geertz, a leading scholar / explorer of peoples and cultures different from his own, has set as a goal for himself and his discipline of anthropology the determination of "how . . . people . . . define themselves as persons, [and] what goes into the idea they have . . . of what a self . . . is." He proposes not only an aim but...

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Three: Family

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pp. 63-88

A commonly held prejudgment of single old women is that their families kept them from living fully or that the women themselves hid behind their families to escape men, sex, work, children, or the unexpected. The 50 autobiographical stories presented to me suggest that the problem of overprotection was encountered by only...

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Four: Intimacy

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pp. 89-110

Enthronement of the family has made the construction of intimate interdependence among unrelated or unmarried people difficult but, happily, not impossible. Friends outside the family, particularly in Western, industrial, and postindustrial cultures, have proved to be vigorous competitors with relatives throughout the...

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Five: Work

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pp. 111-141

Whether domestic workers, factory workers, clerical workers, sales people, professionals, or managers, most of the women I interviewed emphasized three themes in their work life: (1) how badly they had been paid; (2) how few were the choices of occupation open to them when they were young, searching for first jobs and...

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Six: Aging and Retirement: A Study in Continuity

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pp. 143-182

After retirement, the lives of these 50 never-married women closely resemble their lives before retirement. Indeed, many saw their retirement as a chance to capitalize on the "free time" never before available to them as adults. This meant furthering relationships and activities they had long enjoyed, but in forms more...

Notes

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pp. 183-192

Index

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pp. 193-198