"The Women's Movement"
by Joan Didion
More and more, as the literature of the movement began to
reflect the thinking of women who did not really understand
the movement's ideological base, one had the sense of this
stall, this delusion, the sense that the drilling of the
theorists had struck only some psychic hardpan dense with
superstitions and little sophistries, wish fulfillment,
self-loathing and bitter fancies. To read even desultorily
in this literature was to recognize instantly a certain
dolorous phantasm, an imagined Everywoman with whom the
authors seemed to identify all too entirely. This
ubiquitous construct was everyone's victim but her own. She
was persecuted even by her gynecologist, who made her beg
in vain for contraceptives. She particularly needed
contraceptives because she was raped on every date, raped
by her husband, and raped finally on the abortionist's
table. During the fashion for shoes with pointed toes, she,
like "many women," had her toes amputated. She was so
intimidated by cosmetics advertising that she would sleep
"huge portions" of her day in order to forestall wrinkling,
and when awake she was enslaved by detergent commercials on
television. She sent her child to a nursery school where
the little girls huddled in a "doll corner," and were
forcibly restrained from playing with building blocks.
Should she work she was paid "three to ten times less" than
an (always) unqualified man holding the same job, was
prevented from attending business lunches because she would
be "embarrassed" to appear in public with a man not her
husband, and, when she traveled alone, faced a choice
between humiliation in a restaurant and "eating a doughnut"
in her hotel room.