A feminist’s witty and wide-ranging meditation, first published in Australia in 2005, on what makes women happy in the post-feminist era.
Maushart (Wifework, 2002, etc.), a columnist for Australia Magazine and a researcher at Curtin University, Perth, draws on a broad range of sources and her own personal experiences as wife, ex-wife and single mother of three in this exploration of women and well-being. Throughout, her wry comments—“I was sick of reading Hallmark cards about motherhood. I wanted the Cliff Notes”—and frank asides make for entertaining reading. Quoting Freud and Friedan and citing research from sociological and psychological journals, other feminist writings, newspapers and magazines, she reports on what it has been said women want in regards to sex, marriage, motherhood and work. In her view, the feminist movement demanded equality and freedom of choice, whereas what’s wanted now is equivalency and the courage to choose fearlessly and the wisdom to choose well. Among mothers especially, she finds that “depression levels, stress-related disorders and free-floating guilt and anxiety have reached epidemic proportions.” To the overall question of what women want, Maushart acknowledges that there is no single, simple answer. Put in the broadest of terms, it is the power to have richer, more satisfying lives.
Hardly profound, but Maushart offers a breezy style, vivid personal anecdotes and a funny take on female-male relationships.