When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present by Gail Collins
As a woman born in the mid-1980’s, I have been very lucky to be allowed to work in pretty much any field I choose, go to school without being expected to have caught a husband by the end, and get a credit card without needing my husband to sign off on it for me! I never questioned the idea of being a feminist (although I know that this is not a universal idea for women my age. I was once in a class comprised entirely of women while studying abroad in the UK, and the professor asked who considered themselves to be feminists. Only two of us raised our hands. It was shocking.), and I’ve never doubted myself in comparison to men. But, to be honest, all of this seems so second nature so I’ve taken a lot of it for granted.
This book, by the wonderful NY Times columnist Gail Collins, starts in the early 1960’s, when women were still looked down on when they wore pants instead of skirts and follows the rise of women all the way through the 2008 presidential election. Along the way, Collins interviews many of the big women’s movement leaders, as well as a bunch of average women who lived through the era. I was particularly interested in the chapters about women in the civil rights and counter-culture movements of the 1960’s, as they were given the latitude to have more power than in other situations, and yet ran against some fairly ridiculous blocks from their male counterparts who were supposed to recognize them as full equals.
Although it’s amazing to see how much things have changed, this book also served as a reminder that there is still work to be done, especially as the “place” for a woman still seems to be a constant debate. Can she have it all? How does she get it all done? Also, now that I live in a state that seems to be into taking away women’s health funding for kicks, we can’t let this all slip away.
So yes, read this, be grateful, and definitely don’t forget.