There's a chance being a feminist could be good for your love life, according to Sara Eckel, author of the new book It's Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You're Single. An excerpt from Eckel's book was published on Salon this week. In it, Eckel tackles the trope that "smart, liberated women are hopeless in romance" and explains instead why feminism is good for relationships (just ask proclaimed feminist Keira Knightley).
But first, let's start with a bit of trivia taken from the excerpt: Irina Dunn, the Australian university student who first "scribbled A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle on two bathroom walls" in 1970 (no, it was not Gloria Steinem), went on become a journalist and member of the Australian Senate. The feminist phrase was a twist on older sayings such as "a man without faith is like a fish without a bicycle" and "a man needs God like a fish needs a bicycle." Regardless, the phrase "makes a handy cultural shorthand to explain how feminism has messed up women’s love lives," writes Eckel. And for decades, the idea that feminism has failed women romantically has been a running cultural theme.
In decades past, the task of telling ambitious women that they’d never find love fell to male editors and reporters, who were unabashed in their contempt for a new breed of she-monster known as the “career woman.” Later, the media let the numbers do the talking, and we got clinical analyses likening our odds of marrying to getting killed by terrorists (a particularly chilling analogy, in hindsight). These days it’s a woman’s job to break the bad news, and often the messenger is single herself, offering up her life as a cautionary tale for the good of womankind. Regardless of the delivery system, the “doomed career woman” narrative is as perennial as any Disney fable, the theme repackaged and resold to each generation.
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