Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection by Debora L. Spar


Rating: ★★★★

Genre: Non-fiction, feminist

Medium: Hardcover

Synopsis: Women’s place in the workforce has evolved over the past 100 years, and Spar decides to tackle this history.  Beginning with the famous Charlie perfume commercial of the 60’s, Spar details the impossible life of a business woman.  She uses gender socialization and a dash of a biological framework to argue that second- and third-wave feminism were about personal goals, and not women’s goals.  Spar, offering anecdotal evidence alongside studies and journal articles, describes how today’s woman must somehow magically balance a career, family, children, sex, and their own bodies.

Review: When I saw the cover of this book, the imagery of a woman literally bending in an odd position I’m sure only yoga can help you achieve whilst fully concentrating on what’s probably an important email, I knew that this would be an interesting read: and I was right.

What’s important to realize upon reading this book, as with all feminist literature, is the societal realm Spar discusses.  Spar is only talking about the cis- men/women gender divide, and is specifically talking about businesswomen and Ivy-league college graduates.  And, within this realm, Spar does a very good job of explaining not only how women are able to do all that they do, but also why they choose to do everything, and to have everything.

She iterates on many important topics, such as body image (varying from eating disorders to botox), the social sex contract (initially sex in exchange for marriage/long-term relationship, and how this contract changed with the introduction of birth control), and the second shift (when a woman comes home from her 8-hour job to take care of the kids, chores, and household responsibilities; unlike the man who comes home from his 8-hour job and only does what he needs to do for himself).  Spar covers many important topics which effectively back up her thesis that thanks to gender, biology, and media, women are taught to be the perfect woman, with a career, a family, and beauty to boot.

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