Thursday, May 06, 2010

"How feminism [messed] up my love life" - Lori Gottlieb

When I asked several women what "feminism" meant, I got a lot of responses that boiled down to having the same opportunities as men. But the more we talked, the more we came up against the fact that our needs are different and that we might not, in fact, want the same things. And when it comes to dating, we don't have the same opportunities as men, especially as we get older.

This might seem obvious, but somehow I thought that I could just have a baby on my own, put my dating life on hold for a year or two, and then get right back in the game. I thought that's what "equality" and "having it all" meant.

Then, when I was ready to date again, I went to a Thursday night speed dating event. I was now over 40 and everything had changed.

"Mr Good Enough", Lori Gottlieb
Somewhat less blunt than Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both, though addressing related issues, is this new book by Lori Gottlieb. Again a journalist, but now writing not as an observer, but as a participant - Gottlieb finds herself in her early 40s unmarried, and wondering, given that this was not how she envisaged her life unfolding, how she got here.

In many ways, this is a sadder book than Unhooked - the women who find themselves unhappy with the hookup culture at least have the option of backing away from it. Gottlieb writes about women whose expectations have been shaped by glossy magazines and dramas (Ally McBeal, Sex and the City) - all written if not by feminists, then with strong feminist sympathies - who discover that Sunday Brunch with the girls every week is not what they really want, but that it's almost impossible now to do anything about it.

I know that this will arouse the ire of various feminists who will say, "But what about men? Doesn't this apply equally to them?" The answer to that is sorry, but it just doesn't, as the quote from Gottlieb above suggests. The reasons are complex, and Gottlieb does a very good job of identifying them, not simply in sociological terms, but from her own experience.

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