Monday, November 30, 2009

gail collins, my heroine!

Or, The Moment When (not really) Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present.

One of my biggest pet peeves (you probably know this) is when people assume that "women" in the US went to work in the 1960s or that two-income households began then or whatever. Please. Only if you ignore the history of the (African-American, Latina, white, immigrant) working class. Bite me, Michael Pollan. Etc.

And a big working-class, feminist thank you to Gail Collins and to Ariel Levy, who reviewed Collins' book in the Nov 19 New Yorker!! Levy quotes Collins,
“In reality, however, by 1960 there were as many women working as there had been at the peak of World War II, and the vast majority of them were married,” Collins writes. Forty per cent of wives whose children were old enough to go to school had jobs.
This isn’t just about the haze of retrospection: back then, women saw themselves as homemakers, too. Esther Peterson, President Kennedy’s Assistant Secretary of Labor, asked a high-school auditorium full of girls how many of them expected to have a “home and kids and a family.” Hands shot up. Next, Peterson asked how many expected to work, and only a few errant hands were raised. Finally, she asked the girls how many of them had mothers who worked, and “all of those hands went up again,” Peterson wrote in her 1995 memoir, “Restless.”
The rest of the article is not quite so good, and, in fact, painful to read, in parts. Levy is worried that people are mis-remembering and mis-representing second-wave feminism, but she seems to have just as deeply misunderstood identity politics, liberation activism and sexuality.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

YES YES YES! So happy you're back to NYer hatin'! It was getting lonely out here...

12:26 AM  

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