Tuesday, March 15, 2016
Wonder Women by Debora Spar
Why did I dislike it so much? I'll start with this: "At the risk of veering too far into anecdote..." Spar is all about anecdotal evidence. At one point, she says she looked around and everyone she knew had had botox treatments. Also, "every single woman I know worries about her hair." (Maybe she needs to hang out with some different people. Members of my book club, for example.)
"The irony here is that the all-pervasive search for bodily perfection may come, in part, from the feminist movement. Because insofar as feminism liberated women to enjoy their sexuality, it also and simultaneously highlighted the importance of women's physical and sexual attraction." Later, she blames feminism for eating disorders. Because suffragettes threw off their corsets and took to unstructured garments that look best on thin women... or something to that effect. (That was an hour of discussion right there.)
Spar finds young women's sexual freedom - "It's hard for me to render a judgement without sounding and feeling hopelessly middle-aged" - to be misguided, since they are "giving away their power" and young men therefore don't have any reason to marry them. (Another hour of discussion.)
The author states at the beginning that she never used to consider herself a feminist. Her mother was never a "women's libber" either. That viewpoint intrigues me. I have difficulty understanding why smart women would reject feminism. Mostly, it appears to be because of ignorance about what feminism is (and isn't). Wonder Women documents Spar's partial conversion. She wants things to be better for girls and women, but by the end of the book it seems she is still not comfortable calling herself an unqualified feminist:
"we can move to a softer and gentler form of feminism, one less invested in proving women's equality (since that battle has more or less been won) and less upset with men."
"And feminists, or anyone who seeks to advance the cause of women, can focus on more practical elements of the problems rather than on a protracted battle of the sexes."
I will leave the final words to Darcie, another member of my book club, who commented about Wonder Women on GoodReads: "Feminism, written by someone who is clueless about Feminism, for people who don't like Feminism."