In one of those odd synchronicities, I was midway through the first half of this book when my husband and I watched the second-to-last episode of From Earth to the Moon, The Original Wives' Club. What struck me about the women in the episode was that, although the show painted it as the extraordinary sacrifices these women made to support their astronaut husbands, most of what they showed was exactly mirrored in The Women's Room as the things that most suburban housewives did.
have to say that I fell in love with this book, with the sprawling cast
of characters, and their struggles and difficulties in a time that in
some ways is so different from my own, and in deep, unsettling ways, so
similar. Surely every woman in the 1950s and 60s cannot have had it as
hard as every character in the book did, but many did struggle to hold
up their end of a deeply unequal bargain.
I also love the joy,
and newness and discovery of creating a community, and I never loved the
character of Val more than when she expounded on her idea for a utopian
community, and at the same time acknowledged the ephemeral nature of
community, the value of impermanence, of making things better for
individuals, knowing that what you build may not last.
because I loved the characters so much, it hurt when horrible things
started to happen, when that impermanence made itself felt.
also enjoyed the varieties of experience the book explored, the choices
different women made, and why some decided to compromise, some stood
their ground, some were driven into extremism.
I imagine most men would find this book deeply uncomfortable. That is, of course, their right. But that's not my problem.
one of my favourite quotes: "Isolde sighed. "I hate discussions of
feminism that end up with who does the dishes," she said. So do I. But
at the end, there are always the damned dishes."