Woodall's Reviews > When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present

When Everything Changed by Gail Collins
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Aug 26, 11

really liked it
Read from August 15 to 18, 2011

As a woman in her early 30’s, I feel that I have been blessed with many great opportunities in my lifetime. Privileges in which I would not have been entitled to if it were not for the struggles and perseverance of the generations before me. In her chronicling of American woman, Collins captures an interesting picture of a relatively recent American past. It is a past that I was aware of but a history that I had never really understood or even appreciated until recently in my life. Collins presents a personal narrative of women who have lived and struggled with equality and finding a balance in their lives; poor, rich, white, black, gay, straight…all women, all views. Perhaps the writing leans towards a bias, a shared female bond of identity, and a slant towards a push for equality, but I believe that the majority of her work is fair and balanced. With that said, however, you can almost taste how some issues run hot within her blood and are near to her heart as she struggles to remain objective.
While I was reading this book, I decided to question my mother, a baby boomer, about her experiences with sexism in her lifetime. I was absolutely shocked at her words! She shared with me a world were women could not qualify for credit unless her husband applied for her (even if she was divorced and supporting the children on her own.) It was a world were women attended college primarily as a finishing school receiving flowers at their graduation if they were engaged or lemons if not. It was a world were a court judge banned and scolded women for entering his courtroom inappropriately dressed in slacks, not skirts, while permitting men to wear muddy overalls without shirts. It was a world were women were denied work and leadership positions because it was viewed ‘unlady-like’ and in poor taste obstructing her motherly duties.
Despite one’s views on the feminist movement (a dirty little word that I even associate with some distaste) one must keep in perspective that it was/(is?) just like any other movement, producing both benefits and disadvantages . Collins’s book has helped me see deeper into a movement that I was barely educated on and appreciate those who have helped to advocate equality in all Americans. The bottom line being, no one should ever be treated with such base disrespect, (which unfortunately, has a habit of occurring repeatedly in this land) especially in this country whose foundational principles are rooted in the advocacy of civil liberties.
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