There is an interesting article about Mum-Lit on the Guardian's website today. Christina Hopkinson has written a book about a woman whose husband has annoying domestic habits, and evidently a publishing house is very impressed, as she has signed a two-book deal for a reported quarter of a million pounds.
Personally at that point, I would be inclined to chill the frick out about the pile of clothes at the bottom of the stairs. I might even start a second pile and write another book about that one.
Hopkinson makes a very good point about the 'failure of feminism' (she doesn't call it that, which I instantly liked) - in order to 'have it all', western women are increasingly choosing to leave their children in the care of women from other parts of the world, who have to leave their own children behind in order to provide for them, rather than putting some of the domestic burden on men.
This doesn't mean that working mums are bad. They're not. It means that not enough is being done to ensure everyone in society has equal opportunities.
PS It also doesn't mean feminism has failed. It means we didn't get what we asked for and somehow that's our fault.
In spite of the fact I agree with Hopkinson about how society has failed to address childcare issues fully post-feminism, and in spite of the fact she sounds quite nice and I'm sure it's a good book, I also find the whole premise of the book a little insulting, not so much as a feminist, but as a woman.
Hopkinson says "Trying to control the home can be a form of eating disorder. When you're young, you identify yourself too strongly with your looks; when you're older, you identify yourself too strongly with your home."
Zoe Williams, the journalist writing the piece, adds "But only if you are daft, I feel is the unspoken but necessary postscript."
That may be a little harsh. People do pour their identities into all kinds of stupid things (take it from someone who tried to reinvent herself when she was a teenager by changing her handwriting), but I don't think it's the fault of the people around you (ie, the hapless husband) if you choose to do that. Deciding your identity hinges on your house looking nice is not sustainable (what if it burns down or floods?) but if you have small kids, then I'm with Zoe Williams. It's daft.
And the whole point of feminism is equality - as a feminist, I certainly don't believe women should only be presented in literature as perfect superwomen. If there are women out there who define themselves by how clean their house is, why not write books about them? They're real people. True feminism is about embracing everything that women, men and non-binary gendered people can be, and allowing them the chance to be anything. It's about demolishing roles that say 'You are male/female, you are allowed/forbidden to do this.'
However, it does bother me that there is an entire sub-industry out there devoted to spending fifteen years selling me books about meeting the perfect man, taming him, and finally settling down with him so he can reassure me about my fat thighs every fifteen minutes for the rest of my life, before switching to selling me books about why all men are shite and can't remember where the car keys are.
There is nothing wrong with any of the individual books that make up these genres. (Well, there probably is with some of them actually, no one is perfect). I'm not attacking the authors, who are mostly turning out good, entertaining books. I just don't like the fact that entire genres exist solely because people think I want to spend my twenties chasing after Prince Charming and my thirties yelling at him.