Friday, October 12, 2012
A Marriage Agreement and Other Essays: Four Decades of Feminist Writing
The title essay is the famous agreement she made with her husband. This is followed by "A Marriage Disagreement" in which Shulman expands on the life and times that surrounded the original agreement with her then-husband. Other essays are divided among such topics as Marriage and Men; Sex; Writing; and Late Life. Every essay is steeped in a feminist framework and many reference Shulman's novels.
It was incredibly interesting to dive into feminist writing--I must admit that my experience with this genre is incredibly limited. Shulman is borderline militaristic in her approach to feminism but I view that as a sign of the times in which she fell in with the movement; it was the late 1960's when she joined in with the Redstockings in New York City. I was most indulged in the duo essays "A Marriage Agreement" followed by "A Marriage Disagreement" due to Shulman's reveal of the goings on when she wrote the latter. Her marriage was falling apart due to her husband's dalliances with a woman 20 years his junior and she herself had taken a lover, yet she went to great lengths to ensure no one found this out.
I am very happy that I had a chance to pick this up and dive into it over the weekend. It's a quick read at only 180-odd pages. It is well worth a read to understand feminist history and non-fiction writing. I was affected by her 1972 essay, "The War in the Backseat," about young women and their sexual reputations through the 1940's and '50's and the lengths women had to go to in order to find a proper husband. These essays are diverse in their topics but are intriguing nonetheless.