I am re-reading The Woman’s Room by the recently deceased Marilyn French. This book is considered a landmark novel of the feminist era and I think I read it in my early 20s.
I feel a strong kinship for the women in the book, their trials, their entrapment, their sacrifices and their unwitting acceptance of their lot in life. While they fight against the powers of society that grant men more choices and freedoms then they, I am feeling immensely grateful to the women who came before me, who carved out the freedoms that I now enjoy. Feminism in some circles has become a dirty word, but I am still proud to call myself a feminist and grateful that I no longer have the same need for the word that propelled women’s lives beyond dirty dishes and into the workforce. But. And it is a big But. While men’s and women’s roles in the home have meshed and overlapped, other problems have arisen. I think while many men come home from a grueling day at the office and turn to diapers and dishes, they sometimes long for the comfort and clarity of the roles their parents enjoyed. It is a tricky one and as I re read this great tome of groundbreaking feminist literature I wonder if feminism may have swapped one set of confinements for another. Not to suggest that the lives of women are not improved, they are and greatly, but are women really happier? And what of men?
My daughters. whose big brown eyes watch their dad make lunch, dinner, grocery shop and still have energy left to embrace them and make them laugh will become adults with very high expectations of their husbands. I hope those men in the future are ready for what awaits them.
I hope that my daughters will one day read The Women’s Room, find it irrelevant and close the book feeling grateful.