Wednesday, September 8, 2010

When Everything Changed (non-fiction)

When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women From 1960 to the Present by Gail Collins

Think you know all about "Women's Lib" and the sexual revolution? For most of us born anytime after the early 1960s, these are abstract concepts that seem outdated. Something that happened a long time ago that doesn't have a whole lot to do with everyday life for us now. Although there is still occasional talk of "sexism" and "chauvinism," women of my generation and younger take for granted that they have the same rights and opportunities that their male counterparts do.

But it wasn't always like this. In fact, a mere half-century ago, a woman was kicked out of court, where she had gone to pay a traffic ticket, because she was wearing slacks. And so the book opens, giving us the full story of how women in America went from being "chattel," with very few rights or opportunities outside of marrying very young and producing offspring, to setting their sights as far as the White House and as high as the moon.

It took a little work to get into the book, as it is full of history and facts and reads a bit like a textbook. But the author does a wonderful job of holding the reader's interest with her entertaining style and with lots of relatable anecdotes. I'm glad I stuck it out and read the whole thing - it took me a few weeks, but it was well worth it.

This one is my book club's current pick; the discussion in a couple weeks should be very interesting, especially given that several of our members will be bringing their mothers along to give their perspectives on how life has been for them living on both ends of the women's movement.

I'm keeping my copy - maybe my daughters will read it one day. I definitely recommend it, though!

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