You can have it all, just not all at once – Superwoman in bits

The high-achieving Phillips’s selective nostalgic referencing of the ’50s is not feminist backlash, says leading feminist Eva Cox – who nevertheless is bemused by the rush of celebrities publishing memoirs about raising families – but is part of the trend towards more intensely scrutinised parenting in a society more interested in debating tax cuts than quality of life issues.

“We’ve got to work out why the ’80s started a pressure cooker timeline, where everything had to be done now and nothing is saved for.

“The next frontier is trying to say what we need to live the long, good life and how do we discard the trappings that make it hard to do so, and that’s a conversation we all need to have, not just feminists.”

Demolishing the Superwoman myth is a good start. Perhaps Juanita Phillips’s book will be popular enough to counteract her previous outings as representative of the superwoman genre. She makes many good points about the problems of discussing gender equity pragmatically although I hope her story examines the role of seductive images of imagined domestic bliss. I find competitive craft and cooking scarily dominant in popular culture, although the ‘seeking happiness not success’ label is always firmly attached!

Seasoning the pressure cooker with some politically articulate spice, as Linda Morris has done in this article about the book, makes the meal more palatable. Although it’s a shame that when Morris doesn’t remember that the “personal is political” when she assures us that Phillips is not an angry 70s feminist crusader but speaking from a personal perspective, nostalgic for memories of domesticity that worked.

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