The Brick Lane author read era-defining books by Rachel Cusk and Allison Pearson as her dreams of equality drowned in a sea of nappies. But soon third-wave feminism brought fresh energy
As a student in the late 80s, I read Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique and Sexual Politics by Kate Millett. I knew that challenging the patriarchy was an urgent task, and I knew how to accomplish it: by making banners and drinking tea in the Wadham Women’s Room (at the Oxford college where I was an undergraduate). The banners were deployed on marches such as the one that protested against MP David Alton’s 1987 private member’s bill to end late abortions. “Keep your hands off my body,” we shouted, supremely confident, blissfully blind to any ethical nuance in one of the defining issues of gender equality – that of our reproductive rights.
Could ‘feminist pornography’ really be the route to equality?