Gail Collins, New York Times columnist and author of No Stopping Us Now, recounts the astounding revolution in women's lives over the past 50 years, with her usual "sly wit and unfussy style" (People).
When Everything Changed begins in 1960, when most American women had to get their husbands' permission to apply for a credit card. It ends in 2008 with Hillary Clinton's historic presidential campaign. This was a time of cataclysmic change, when, after four hundred years, expectations about the lives of American women were smashed in just a generation.
A comprehensive mix of oral history and Gail Collins's keen research--covering politics, fashion, popular culture, economics, sex, families, and work--When Everything Changed is the definitive book on five crucial decades of progress. The enormous strides made since 1960 include the advent of the birth control pill, the end of "Help Wanted--Male" and "Help Wanted--Female" ads, and the lifting of quotas for women in admission to medical and law schools. Gail Collins describes what has happened in every realm of women's lives, partly through the testimonies of both those who made history and those who simply made their way.
Picking up where her highly lauded book America's Women left off, When Everything Changed is a dynamic story, told with the down-to-earth, amusing, and agenda-free tone for which this beloved New York Times columnist is known. Older readers, men and women alike, will be startled as they are reminded of what their lives once were--"Father Knows Best" and "My Little Margie" on TV; daily weigh-ins for stewardesses; few female professors; no women in the Boston marathon, in combat zones, or in the police department. Younger readers will see their history in a rich new way. It has been an era packed with drama and dreams--some dashed and others realized beyond anyone's imagining.
You've come a long way, baby: that's Collins's conclusion about American women, who once lacked the right to publicly wear pants and now take their place on the presidential campaign trail and the battlefield. New York Times columnist Collins attempts a comprehensive account of the last 50 years of women's history in this sequel to America's Women, primarily focusing on the 1960s. Giving relatively short shrift to the current generation of young women, Collins centers the bulk of her attention on the baby boom generation (to which she belongs) and leaders like NOW founder Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, as well as dozens of ordinary struggling women. The book's stronger parts include highlighting pioneers like Congresswoman Martha Griffiths, who began her political career in the 1940s and stories of laughably shortsighted sexism against Sandra Day O'Connor. Collins captures the conundrums of feminism's success (does a see-through blouse make a woman liberated or a sex object?), but the book will probably resonate most for her generational peers. 16 pages of b&w photographs.
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reliving my history was the best part
Collins's review of the changes in the lives of American women is written with her usual style and humor--to which she's added an amazing, wide-ranging, eye-opening collection of examples to illustrate her points. (There's a fascinating group of photos too.) Women my age (70) will especially enjoy SC's retelling of the milestones we've lived through--some of her stories became required listening for my spouse, I fear. And younger women may find some of this history pretty startling. Life can be hard--but for women it was a lot harder not so long ago. Wish I'd saved my favorite mint green panty girdle and matching bra for show and tell.