“Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection”

The Washington Post recently published a Q&A with Barnard College President Debora L. Spar, whose new book adds another voice to the recently reinvigorated conversation about the current state of feminist struggles. In the book, Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection, Spar suggests that the hard-fought feminist battles from the 1960s and 1970s, which yielded significant freedoms, have also transformed into impossible expectations for women today. “For the first time,” Spar argues, “[women] could go out and be journalists, astrophysicists, anything they wanted. But while we were adding these new expectations, we never got rid of the old ones.” Spar proposes that this new mythology of what a woman should be (that is, “beautiful, smart, economically independent, loving mothers, sexy wives and PTA presidents, all while keeping gracious homes and making nutritious, organic meals every night”) is unrealistic, and attempts to conquer this unattainable goal have left women overwhelmed, feeling inadequate, and with a deep sense of guilt. Spar attempts to counteract such unreasonable expectations by sharing her own messy life stories and urging her readers to learn to “satisfice”—or, realize that you may not always be able to get exactly what you want in every part of your life.

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