Clare's Reviews > America's Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines

America's Women by Gail Collins
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's review
Jan 30, 2009

it was amazing
Read in November, 2008

While reading this I called myself a feminist for the first time in my life. My former discomfort with that label was embarrassing; I acknowledge the younger generations' ingratitude towards those who struggled for women's rights, but despite my gratitude and delight in the current freedoms, I couldn't embrace the concept of feminism without feeling like I was being tongue-in-cheek or somehow self-mocking.

I believe there are nature-bound differences, which can be studied and exposed, between the brains of women and men, I think the sexes have evolved differently, I also think that altered gender states have evolved out of this and also involve differences on the neuronal and chemical levels. Somehow my thoughts on these matters interfered with my willingness to call myself a feminist; if we are different, why do we still need to struggle for equality, and why can't we rejoice in these differences? I was so over the idea of bridging a gender gap, I was through with breaking the glass ceiling. Adrienne Rich made me so angry, leaving her family and thinking she was taking some strong feminist stance by embracing her creativity and going off to write poetry; if that is what modern feminists think they can do, I wanted no part of the movement.

This book changed my perspective completely, I'm in awe of the progress women have made in this country, and of Gail Collins' work to dig up the day-to-day lives of women through a great deal of colonial and post-colonial America. It should have been obvious before, but there are as many kinds of feminism as there are women, and the differences amongst us can strengthen the movement. An analysis of variance may show "us" as women to be different from men, but the within groups differences matter just as much.
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03/06/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Becky I had the exact same reponse to "feminist" and now, after reading this book, the word has been reclaimed for me. Glad I wasnt the only one!

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