Title: Reading Women: How the Great Books of Feminism Changed My Life
Author: Stephanie Staal
Year Published: 2011
Genre: Feminism, Memoir
Format: Read eBook on Kindle for Droid
Rating: *** 1/2
Journalist Stephanie Staal, the child of a dual-career household, first studied feminism formally in the late 1990’s when young women were confident in a future where they would flourish in their careers and raise their families at the same time. A decade and a half later, Staal, married and raising a young daughter, feels lost on the path to her envisioned dream. Like many women, she finds raising a child, being married, working for a living, and trying to keep a sense of self is not so easy in American society . Though her husband has always expressed feminist viewpoints and the goal of an equal relationship, their marriage has drifted to a more traditional setup than either had planned on. When she realizes just unhappy she is, Staal decides to retake the course, Feminist Texts, at her alma maters Barnard College and Columbia University to search for answers to her current life problems.
Reading Women is both informative and emotionally engaging. Staal is an excellent writer. She summarizes the key elements of each of the classic texts of the first, second, and third waves of feminism while weaving through the narrative of her life. She discusses how each text affected her as a college student and what she thinks of it now as a married mother seeking answers to how to survive in a society with so many conflicting ideals for women.
I got interested in feminism later in life, when I was in a similar situation to Staal’s, so I loved reading her short thoughtful summaries of many of the texts I had heard of, but never had the time to read myself. Staal is obviously from the upper-middle class and her discussion of feminism deals mostly with the struggles of the upper-middle class. Still, it was comforting to read someone else honestly discussing how hard American society makes life for women– even privileged women like myself or Staal. After reading her book I felt a little less alone.