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Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and Perfection

Posted November 12, 2013 by Katherine Toll in Leaders We Adore

Deborah Spar

Fifty years after the Equal Pay Act, why are women still living in a man’s world?*

This compelling question opens the ‘about section’ of a website showcasing the new book, Wonder Woman: Sex, Power, and The Quest for  Perfection, by the Debora Spar, the president of Barnard College.  (I know, I know — don’t you just hate overachievers?) As I perused the site, a video trailer captured my attention — it had me at hello.

Feminism gave my generation of girls a dream. It gave us a chance to choose the lives we wanted.

Indeed it did — so, you want a fabulous career, lean body, gorgeous husband, 2.3 perfectly behaved children, and whip up magic in the kitchen? Done! Knock yourself out.

But, as we matured, things began falling through the cracks, our self esteem took a beating, our husbands behaved as mere mortals, and our careers stuttered-stepped along as we took ‘baby breaks’. Or not, and then we felt guilty about not wanting children, or not being married, or getting divorced.

Plus, everyone else seemed to handle it all so beautifully! You must be the crazy one, right? Wrong.

Because we could do anything, we felt as if we had to do everything.


As most know, you won’t find a bigger proponent of feminism (warts and all) than me. I grew up knowing walls tumbled down and ceilings broke, so I could choose my life, as opposed to someone shoving it down my throat. However, It took me 30-some years to understand the ‘perfection myth’ was just that. (Candidly, I’m not sure I’ve fully grasped the lesson, but its within reach.)

My only issue with the book focuses on both an explicit statement Spar writes,

Women of my generation (30 ish+) got feminism wrong.

I disagree. We got it as right as possible without a script — we grew, we learned, and now we carry on, so the next generation learns from our lessons.


*Note: The Equal Pay Amendment has never been properly ratified, so it is not a constitutional right— contrary to popular opinion. 

About the Author

Katherine Toll

Katherine (Kathi) Toll possesses more than 20 years of management and consulting experience within the retail and beauty industry. Her industry experience combined with her special brand of irreverence fuels her mission to find the ‘must-have’ beauty products for Career Girls of all ages. She aspires to remind women the airbrushed perfection of the beauty industry must be tempered with a healthy dose of humor. Kathi holds a general management certification from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, along with an undergraduate degree from Northwestern’s School of Communications.