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Wonder Women : Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection
by Debora L. Spar

Overview -

Fifty years after the Equal Pay Act, why are women still living in a man's world?

Debora L. Spar never thought of herself as a feminist. Raised after the tumult of the 1960s, she presumed the gender war was over. As one of the youngest female professors to be tenured at Harvard Business School and a mother of three, she swore to young women that they could have it all.  Read more...


 
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More About Wonder Women by Debora L. Spar
 
 
 
Overview

Fifty years after the Equal Pay Act, why are women still living in a man's world?

Debora L. Spar never thought of herself as a feminist. Raised after the tumult of the 1960s, she presumed the gender war was over. As one of the youngest female professors to be tenured at Harvard Business School and a mother of three, she swore to young women that they could have it all. "We thought we could just glide into the new era of equality, with babies, board seats, and husbands in tow," she writes. "We were wrong."

Now she is the president of Barnard College, arguably the most important all-women's college in the United States. And in "Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection"--a fresh, wise, original book-- she asks why, a half century after the publication of Betty Friedan's "The Feminine Mystique," do women still feel stuck.

In this groundbreaking and compulsively readable book, Spar explores how American women's lives have--and have not--changed over the past fifty years. Armed with reams of new research, she details how women struggled for power and instead got stuck in an endless quest for perfection. The challenges confronting women are more complex than ever, and they are challenges that come inherently and inevitably from being female. Spar is acutely aware that it's time to change course.

Both deeply personal and statistically rich, "Wonder Women "is Spar's story and the story of our culture. It is cultural history at its best, and a road map for the future.


 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780374298753
  • ISBN-10: 0374298750
  • Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books
  • Publish Date: September 2013
  • Page Count: 305


Related Categories

Books > Social Science > Women's Studies - General
Books > Social Science > Feminism & Feminist Theory
Books > Social Science > Essays

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2013-07-22
  • Reviewer: Staff

Barnard College president Spar (The Baby Business) skillfully addresses the state of feminism and suggests that, despite historic gains in education, the workforce, and equal rights, American women suffer under "an excruciating set of mutually exclusive expectations" resulting, paradoxically, from the proliferation of options that feminism made possible. Drawing on her experiences as well as extensive research, Spar lucidly traces how the movement's "expansive and revolutionary" political goals have evolved into a set of "vast and towering expectations" that trouble women at every stage of their lives. Wisely forgoing hostility or blame, Spar finds women struggling, if anything, with the fantasy of "having it all." "We're doing this to ourselves," she writes, addressing, among other topics: the explosion of toddler princesses; eating disorders and hyperachievement among adolescents; the hookup habits of young adults; the "adoration of pregnancy"; competitive mothering; and the lucrative wedding, diet, and plastic surgery industries. Her solutions call for sanity and simplicity: to kill "the myths of female perfection" and recommit to the goals of early feminism, abandoning the "individualized quest" in favor of organizational and collective change. Tactfully navigating heated debates and effectively contextualizing historical trends and contemporary problems, Spar's book will be welcomed by readers who envision a world "driven by women's skills and interests and passions as much as by men's." Photos. Agent: Will Lippincott, Lippincott Massie McQuilkin. (Sept. 17)

 
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