But Rukeyser wrote enough to leave her artistic legacy mixed. While there is certainly no native opposition between poetry and politics, Rukeyser’s passion for radical social causes left a good part of her poetry feeling stilted and forced. Especially as the Cold War unfolded, Rukeyser’s worker-centered social protest cast a shadow over her career. She was monitored by the federal government until the 1970s. But her ecstatic love for the fundamental good in human beings, and her faith in the making of a better world, breathes through her work. Her humor gives it buoyancy. “O for God’s sake,” she wrote in a poem called “Islands,” “they are connected underneath…
Jo Freeman, a feminist writer and activist who worked with Firestone from the beginning, said at the memorial, ‘When I think back on Shulie’s contribution to the movement, I think of her as a shooting star. She flashed brightly across the midnight sky, and then she disappeared.’
Sandberg does not mention pleasure. Sandberg assumes instead that the feminist question is simply, how can I be a more successful worker?…Sandberg has penned not so much a new Feminine Mystique as an updated Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.
Not long after that, I was given Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. The book, which I had always thought of as belonging to my mother’s generation, was published in 1963, the year before I was born; it has sold more than three million copies. I had never read it. I have since done an informal poll among women I know who teach in universities, and most of them not only have not read the book, but also looked startled when I asked them about it, as if I had mentioned the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Norton is republishing the book about “the problem that has no name” in a 50th-anniversary edition this month, with a new introduction by Gail Collins and an afterword by Anna Quindlen. The edition also includes Friedan’s epilogue, written at the 10-year mark, in 1973, by which time she had, among other things, helped found the National Organization for Women. In that epilogue, Friedan recalls how, in the 1960s, before she wrote the book, women’s-magazine editors had tried to force her to rewrite her articles to cater to their advertisers’ pro-housewife line, or else they killed the pieces.
Some things have changed less than we would like.
It is now time to lip-synch for your life: the Los Angeles Review of Books looks at gender performativity and the greatest television show ever created, RuPaul’s Drag Race.
…its woman-centredness also hints at feminism’s dirty secret: that feminists might be feminists because they are supremely interested in themselves, even if that interest is in the shape of self-doubt. While Sheila says that it’s great to be a woman because what a female genius should be hasn’t yet been established, that is also the problem of being a woman.