What do women want? The same thing men were promised in the Declaration of Independence: happiness, or at least the freedom to pursue it.
For women, though, pursuing happiness is a complicated endeavor, and if you head out into America and talk to women one-on-one, as Jill Filipovic has done, you see that happiness is indelibly shaped by the constraints of gender, the expectations of feminine sacrifice, and the myriad ways that womanhood itself differs along lines of race, class, location, and identity.
In The H-Spot, Filipovic argues that the main obstacle standing in-between women and happiness is a rigged system. In this world of unfinished feminism, men have long been able to "have it all" because of free female labor, while the bar of achievement for women has only gotten higher. Never before have women at every economic level had to work so much (whether it's to be an accomplished white-collar employee or just make ends meet). Never before have the standards of feminine perfection been so high. And never before have the requirements for being a "good mother" been so extreme. If our laws and policies made women's happiness and fulfillment a goal in and of itself, Filipovic contends, many of our country's most contentious political issues-from reproductive rights to equal pay to welfare spending-would be swiftly resolved.
Filipovic argues that it is more important than ever to prioritize women's happiness-and that doing so will make men's lives better, too. Here, she provides an outline for a feminist movement we all need and a blueprint for how policy, laws, and society can deliver on the promise of the pursuit of happiness for all.
We Were Feminists Once
By Andi Zeisler
Feminism has hit the big time. Once a dirty word brushed away with a grimace, "feminist" has been rebranded as a shiny label sported by movie and pop stars, fashion designers, and multi-hyphenate powerhouses like Beyoncé. It drives advertising and marketing campaigns for everything from wireless plans to underwear to perfume, presenting what's long been a movement for social justice as just another consumer choice in a vast market. Individual self-actualization is the goal, shopping more often than not the means, and celebrities the mouthpieces.
But what does it mean when social change becomes a brand identity? Feminism's splashy arrival at the center of today's media and pop-culture marketplace, after all, hasn't offered solutions to the movement's unfinished business. Planned Parenthood is under sustained attack, women are still paid 77 percent-or less-of the man's dollar, and vicious attacks on women, both on- and offline, are utterly routine.
Andi Zeisler, a founding editor of Bitch Media, draws on more than twenty years' experience interpreting popular culture in this biting history of how feminism has been co-opted, watered down, and turned into a gyratory media trend. Surveying movies, television, advertising, fashion, and more, Zeisler reveals a media landscape brimming with the language of empowerment, but offering little in the way of transformational change. Witty, fearless, and unflinching, We Were Feminists Once is the story of how we let this happen, and how we can amplify feminism's real purpose and power.
By Miriam Cohen
Julia Lathrop was a social servant, government activist, and social scientist who expanded notions of women's proper roles in public life during the early 1900s. Appointed as chief of the U.S. Children's Bureau, created in 1912 to promote child welfare, she was the first woman to head a United States federal agency. Throughout her life, Lathrop challenged the social norms of the time and became instrumental in shaping Progressive reform. She began her career at Hull House in Chicago, the nation's most famous social settlement, where she worked to improve public and private welfare for poor people, helped establish America's first juvenile court, and pushed for immigrant rights. Lathrop was also co-founder of one of America's first schools of social work. Later in life she became a leader in the League of Women Voters and an advisor on child welfare to the League of Nations.
Following Lathrop's life from her childhood and college education through her social service and government work, this book gives an overview of her enduring contribution to progressive politics, women's employment, and women's education. It also offers a look at how one influential woman worked within the bounds of traditional conventions about gender, race, and class, and also pushed against them.
About the Lives of American Women series: Selected and edited by renowned women's historian Carol Berkin, these brief biographies are designed for use in undergraduate courses. Rather than a comprehensive approach, each biography focuses instead on a particular aspect of a woman's life that is emblematic of her time, or which made her a pivotal figure in the era. The emphasis is on a good read,” featuring accessible writing and compelling narratives, without sacrificing sound scholarship and academic integrity. Primary sources at the end of each biography reveal the subject's perspective in her own words. Study questions and an annotated bibliography support the student reader.