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I always wondered why there was so little written by and about women my age who were born in the fifties/ sixties and came of age living through the women's liberation movement. Ms. Collins has finally written such a book. It is comprehensive, easy to listen to, full of stories, passion, and truth about what some women did that changed the lives of American women forever and ever. I recalled everything as Ms. Collins it, and I enjoyed reliving the events. I learned so much about the specific women who lead this movement. They are the unsung heroes of my life. Ms. Collins takes us up to the current times, with an honest appraisal of the achievements and the work that still remains. Recommended for every woman, of all ages.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful
I would never have read this book if it hadn’t been a book club pick, but I’m so glad I did! I thought that since I’d lived through the period of time covered in the book, I didn’t need to read about it. Wrong! Gail Collins really gave a lot of info and background that both added to and made all my memories come alive.
For example, I knew Billy Jean King had played that “Match of the Sexes” with Bobby Riggs in 1973, but I’d forgotten who he was and how he’d first beaten Margaret Court. I turns out that I really didn’t know much about Billy Jean, either. So it was extremely entertaining for me, especially as a tennis player, to read about her upbringing, how she really was the genesis of women’s tennis as a pro sport on a par with men’s tennis, and then about this match. Billy Jean really knew how to play it up and make a satire of the whole Bobby Riggs’ challenge. The author said, “Whether women had strong backhands was secondary to whether they could stand up to people who wanted to make fun of them.” So when the producers proposed that she be carried in to the tennis court on a cheesy Egyptian style litter held up by 6 scantily clad young men, she said, “God, that would be great! “ She beat Riggs at his own game, literally, in front of 48 million TV viewers! Fantastic!!
Collins talks about how the book Our Bodies Ourselves grew out of a group of women who got together in 1969 to discuss the shortcomings in the way doctors treated women in that era (paternalistic, judgmental, non-informative). Who doesn’t remember that book about owning our bodies and all sorts of things about the biology of being a woman that grew out of that group! I had a copy, that’s for sure. Then she tells about a woman who showed up for a meeting of the campus women’s group at Antioch and said, “We all got little mirrors and examined our cervixes.” Great quote from Nora Ephron, who said, “It was hard not to long for the days when an evening with the girls meant – bridge.”
The book was very well researched and factual. Collins did a great job of treating all races and classes fairly and painting a full picture of the women’s movement. She really started before 1960 with background information that helped to put the coming changes into perspective. That early part was really interesting and helpful. Then, as she moved into the 1960’s and onward, I think she summed it up pretty well when she said that the post war economy, soaring expectations of the post war boom, the declining income of men in the 70’s, the birth control pill, and the civil rights movement which made women aware of their own lowly status all came together to form “a benevolent version of the perfect storm” and resulted in all the cataclysmic changes of the 60’s and 70’s. I found the beginning chapters that dealt with the years up through the 70’s were the most fascinating. I supposed the reason I only gave it 4 instead of 5 stars is because I felt the later sections on the 80’s, 90’s, and the new millennium didn’t have as much cohesiveness or drive as these earlier sections. At 480 pages/15 hours, it’s a long book, and perhaps this first part would have been enough – at least for me.
Also, I felt like the titles of the short sections in the book were too cutesy and distracting. A more descriptive and academic way of naming the chapters and sections would help the reader – and especially the listener – to mentally organize the huge amount of information while listening.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful