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The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  635 ratings  ·  82 reviews
What do women want? The same thing men were promised in the Declaration of Independence: happiness, or at least the freedom to pursue it.

For women, though, pursuing happiness is a complicated endeavor, and if you head out into America and talk to women one-on-one, as Jill Filipovic has done, you'll see that happiness is indelibly shaped by the constraints of gender, the e
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 2nd 2017 by Bold Type Books
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Julie Ehlers
The H-Spot was rather disappointing. In her introduction, Jill Filipovic advances a fascinating thesis: The United States was founded on the idea that we're all entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but over the years, U.S. policy has not been neutral to all citizens; it has actually favored men (particularly white men, of course). Women have propped up this system long enough, no one is actually all that happy, and there is obviously still a lot of social injustice. The time ...more
Mar 10, 2017 rated it liked it
While this was informative, I felt this book referenced many (better) books that I have already read about feminists and the feminist pursuit. This book did a good job of changing the concept and turning it more to the focus on the idea of female happiness.

The inclusion of women of color, lower income females and the hot button issue of intersectionality was a highly welcome addition as many of the referenced books just touched on or completely left out.

This is a highly relevant, readable book t
Feb 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: humans who care about the happiness of other humans
February 2017: Extremely relevant, extremely good. Review TK.


(This review originally appeared on, April 2017)

The Declaration of Independence enshrines the “pursuit of happiness” as an “inalienable Right,” right next to life and liberty as essential endowments for all people. Or, at least, for all men.

The inclusion of happiness as a right guaranteed to all men was a radical proposition in 1776, though it is now a defining aspect of American exceptionalism. The concept remains radi
Maggie Gordon
If you pick up The H-Spot because you remember the good old days of Feministe, prepare to be disappointed. This book is pablum. Now, admittedly, pablum is important. This is a good book to give someone if they don't understand this whole gender equality thing and need to start somewhere. It includes more references to intersectional ideas than most introductory texts of this type (but it's still not fantastic), and it's up-to-date in terms of references. But it's baby feminism 101.

I had hoped t
mis fit
Reading this book during the pandemic allowed me to take my time and ponder each chapter on work, sexuality, motherhood, and so on in relation to my own life-- this was a valuable opportunity to take some time to consider what makes me happy in life, where I'm going, and what I really want to pursue (especially since there are so many prescriptions given to women about what they're supposed to want in life and who they're supposed to want to be). Filipovic also reminds us through the whole work ...more
Aug 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, feminism
I'd class this as a solid introductory overview to some feminist ideas about everything from sex to food to motherhood to names. Jill Filipovic doesn't cover particularly new ground here, but I liked—and wished she'd hammered home more—her framework as to how misogyny and the U.S.'s toxic approach to pleasure and happiness reinforce one another. ...more
Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: feminism
The book has a good thesis--that women should seek to maximize their happiness. There's a lot of good material scattered through the book. Despite that, it doesn't really succeed, largely because Filipovic doesn't know what kind of book she wants to write. The scope is too wide: each chapter focuses on a part of women's lives that could take a book to cover thoroughly on its own. The content flips between research, interview material, and her own thoughts, and it's an uneven mix. She's upfront t ...more
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Darn. I had high hopes for this book since I like Jill's tweets and her articles and op-eds a lot. She's a smart, incisive writer.

Somehow, that skill did not carry over into this monograph. Maybe it's because I'm well-read on the topic, but with the possible exception of her chapter/analysis of sexual pleasure, she was re-stating well-trod territory around how America isn't really set up for women's happiness/success. If you still need to be told that affordable childcare is a problem and need 2
Mar 08, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

Nothing in this book will be new concepts to you if you read widely within this genre; however I did really enjoy Filipovic's centring of all of these ideas around the idea of female happiness.

It's a concept that has only recently started to get play, and is still looked down upon (i.e. a woman's role is caring for others first, and caring for herself second). Her conceptualizing of this concept by going through a woman's life (marriage, childbearing, schooling, etc...) was great, and e
Jul 31, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2017
This book is academia feminist dogma at its worst. The arguments are poorly developed, which I would have at least like to have read, considering Jill Filipovic was formerly an attorney. Many statements were made just as statements, left with no discussion or validation. The chapters are ridden with political correctness and intersectional parenthetical statements that take away from her actual arguments. Her research does not go much beyond the early 1990s, aside from references to the early fe ...more
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A great “Feminism 101” read that’s not too dense but packs a punch.

Jill reframes so many things we just go along with and made me think about what this means for women. A chapter that stood out for me the most was the recent push for women to have natural childbirth, that it makes them more “womanly” and implies they’re better mothers. Except we except women to be highlighted, plucked, well-exercised, made up, perfumed...the only time we value women being “natural” is when they’re in an immense
Morgan Schulman
May 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Same old, same old, re-framed in the terms of women's happiness. Single, Childfree, affluent, educated 30-something urban white girl who's written on the internet. This is no longer critical theory. This is live journal 15 years later. ...more
Kate Walton
Enjoyed Filipovic's approach, investigating whether we should be searching not for equality but for happiness. Not a lot of new thought or information here, but a good read nonetheless. ...more
Patti Webb
Jun 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I am an avid follower of Jill Filipovic on Twitter, so I was very excited to get an advance copy of this book. I've never read any feminist non-fiction before, so this was a straight-forward crash course on feminist history. "How did we get here?" is the foundation, followed up by an analysis of today's policy and staggering statistics of women's roles as mother, wife, daughter, friend, scholar/worker, and member of society. She clearly shows how federal and state government policies have not ke ...more
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, women
I am growing increasingly fed up with the patriarchy and all of the ways that women are still being treated as second-class citizens. So much of what Filipovic has to say is spot-on as it pertains to cultural norms regarding the expectations of and for women in our society, many of which are at cross-purposes...being turned into sex objects while being shamed for being sexual, for example. For me, reading books like 'The H-Spot" help me to question things I've just automatically accepted because ...more
Stephanie Spence
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This should be required reading in schools. The author articulated for me, with statistics and personal stories, concepts I had struggled with but didn’t have the information in a context of the time I was experiencing it. This is a book I will refer back to. There are books like this that “once you know” you can’t go back. Once awake, you can’t sleep. I highly recommend reading this if you are interested in equality. It’s mind blowing that my pursuit of happiness was denied, but I knew as much ...more
Jennifer Mangler
There isn't a whole lotta new here. It's a solid introduction to feminist ideas and a good place for someone who's interested to start, but if you've read about feminism recently this book won't give you anything you haven't read before. It often felt like an overview of U.S. history. Don't get me wrong, I love reading about women's history. I just wasn't expecting this book to be that, and so found this frustrating to read. I think I found this so disappointing because I was intrigued by the th ...more
Jun 08, 2019 rated it liked it
This book didn't contain loads of new information for me, but I did pick up some names of authors and podcasts I might check out in the future. It is well-written. Even without groundbreaking content, this book succeeded in filing me with the rage of injustice, but at least I knew I wasn't alone in feeling it. ...more
Eva Goellner
Jan 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
I had to stop reading this halfway through because this book was such a bummer. I didn’t feel like it presented much new information or thought, just talked about it all with a really pessimistic point of view. Plus, the author was very repetitive throughout the chapters, which really made them drag on.
Ashley Burke-Muraida
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. It really delved into what its like to be a woman in America at one of the most trying times in our history, but instead of harping on what is wrong with the world, this book offers real world solutions that women and men can make everyday to improve on their happiness.
Feb 23, 2017 rated it liked it
I have been working on reading this book for a while with dogged determination. I really had a difficult time getting in to this book by Jill Filipovic. At the end of the day, it felt like I was reading a book I didn't choose for a class. I was disappointed because in reading the description, it sounded just like something I would love to read.

Filipovic focused on reframing the conversation around feminism. It was an interesting approach. Some of the writing was dry and repetitive, which is whe
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Part review of feminist theory and the feminist movement, the author presents different ideas of happiness from the perspective of different women.

"One of the goals of this project was to show that there is no one definition of womanhood, no singular experience of pleasure seeking, and no individual thing that will bring happiness for all women, but there are a great many commonalities, and a great many ways to improve the status quo."

Her suggestions for improving the status quo?

- Fostering rela
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
This is not a book. I love Jill's columns and articles--at best, this is a series of articles, but it's more like a bunch of notes and a lit review of other people's work (mostly Koontz) without much original thought. It's a smattering of interviews, personal dilemmas that are very privilege-y and then some commentary about how it sucks even worse to be brown and poor. Many of the problems of overwork apply equally to men and women and the anxiety and lack of happiness, too, are widely shared. I ...more
Leah Cossette
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed, women
This was not very good. That bright, blossoming cover made me do it, though.

Although Filipovic does have a lot to say, and some chapters were good, this book on female happiness ultimately felt directionless. I enjoyed the chapters on sex and food, but even in those chapters I disagreed with Filipovic's very liberal attitude. There were times when it seemed to me that she was making a mountain out of a molehill, getting all bent out of shape about ultimately trivial things -- while having relat
Katie Stark
Oct 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
One one hand this book is not particularly novel to feminists. Most of us have heard and largely agree on these ideas. But on the other it is incredibly well researched and brings together so many details that satisfy you with feeling recognized (the ‘yes! I’ve experienced that too/always thought that’ moments). As well, the idea that focusing policy on pleasure and happiness rather than equality is something I have not heard as a mainstream argument. As for the writing itself: She also brings u ...more
I have mixed feelings about this book. In the beginning of this book, the author presented an interesting thesis on gender inequality and traditional gender roles. Unfortunately however, in the following chapters, the arguments presented by the author seemed to revolve around marriage and childbirth. From eight chapters in this book, there is only one chapter in which the discussion did not focus on marriage and childbirth, that is Chapter 7 -The Edible Woman: Food, Fat, and Feminism. Even in Ch ...more
Jun 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
It may well be that there isn't much that's totally new in this book, but I really enjoyed it. The focus on women achieving happiness was an interesting frame but really it was the writing that gripped me. The author referenced many other feminist books and feminist research but pulled her argument together very well without being too stuffy, She interviewed a cross section of the population and I think more direct quotes and discussion with these women would have enhanced the narrative. I highl ...more
May 16, 2017 rated it liked it
I was looking forward to this release after reading Filipovic’s opinion piece for the New York Times, Why Men Want to Marry Melanias and Raise Ivankas ( The premise of the book is fascinating: What would a world designed around women’s happiness look like? Unfortunately, the book is more of a catalog of the things that make women (and also a lot of men) unhappy. There were some moments that felt new and important (e.g., discussion of the new “wellness” d ...more
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Filipovic writes about the stigmas, barriers, sunk costs, and prospects available to females. She looks at sex, relationships, family, work, and society beliefs. The good news is that there are many more opportunities for women to be happy. The bad news is there are political, sexual, and cultural obstacles to overcome. At the time of publication, adolescent and adult females continued to be subjected to feminine beauty stereotypes through media and interpersonal communications. According to the ...more
Ritu Anand
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
I put this book on my to read list after I heard the author interviewed on two podcasts that I love: Unscrewed with Jaclyn Friedman and Politically Re-Active with Hari Kondabolu and W. Kamau Bell. The author touches on a variety of feminist issues including sexual pleasure, parenting, marriage, the workplace, and body image/nutrition/food. The premise of the book is that Jill is writing about a vision for a future that is feminist. She is discussing not only how much progress we still have to ma ...more
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126 likes · 46 comments
“Women’s lives, their accomplishments, and their happiness, much more than men’s, are shaped by the person they marry. Among women in the longevity study who did marry, who the women married mattered a lot more for their happiness than who the men married. A husband’s well-being matters a lot more to both partners’ quality of life than a wife’s; that is, a difficult, unhappy husband is more likely to pass that misery onto his wife, to the point where it shortens her life expectancy. A difficult, unhappy wife doesn’t have the same impact on her husband.” 1 likes
“...casting breadwinning as the mark of a real man is as much of a straightjacket as believing motherhood is the ultimate expression of true womanhood.” 1 likes
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