Sunday, October 11, 2015

Spinster: Kate Bolick

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I am pretty sure I've written this before- maybe even recently- but there's something about reading a book that you're not even sure you like actually *reading, but you know is kind of life changing while you read it. I recently read How to Grow up by Michelle Tea, which similarly, spoke to me, but wasn't a great book. Kate Bolick's Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own was different: I almost didn't like reading it, as it was too much litcrit for me (not my genre), but couldn't put it down because it was just so perfectly timed, so very true, so inspirational. Not like eating your vegetables, but maybe like that workout that you don't enjoy but not only is the best workout of your life but fills you with life-loving chemicals afterwards. (If this sounds like a backhanded compliment, it's not intended that way. Spinster is a wonderful, important book.)

And, in the way of serendipitious reading, or "themacinator sees connections where none exist," this book also followed nicely after Infidel. Where Hirsi Ali was politicized in a most extreme way by growing up a Muslim woman in Muslim countries, causing her to speak out and write about the importance (a "duh" moment, we would think) of making women, half the population, equal to the other half, Bolick's path is slightly different but ultimately comes to the same conclusion. Are women really people if we're groomed to be wives and mothers? Do we actually ever get to grow up if we're taught that we're moving from station to station as someone's something? How can we possibly envision ourselves as selves if "woman" equals daughter < wife < mother? Where is (single) woman on that trajectory?  "What if a girl grew up like a boy," she writes, "with marriage as an abstract, someday thought, a thing to think about when she became an adult, a thing se could do, or not do, depending?" Think we've come that far? It's 2015, right? Yeah, I don't think so. Single ladies (yours truly included) know that the word "single" actually means "dating" and "dating" ladies have to make it very clear to the people they date that they're not looking for either a husband or children, thus ruling out 3/4 of men (I can't speak for women) that are eligible. (Sidenote: men are eligible. Women are single.)

Since I've started writing this book report, I've loaned my copy (yup, it was a library book) to a friend (and fellow spinster), so I can't quite finish it the way I want to. The path through Bolick's literary role models is probably interesting to only us spinsters or to other people who think the current version of gender roles isn't productive or fun for anyone. I may even reread this one. If I do, I'll be sure to report back.