In her new book “The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness,” author Jill Filipovic looks beyond the question of making women legally or even socially equal and asks the harder question: What will make women happy? Many people think they have the answer, but as Filipovic found, what it means to pursue happiness varies wildly between women. Her book is a fascinating exploration of what it would take to free women to chase their own dreams and to support them in the diverse life choices they make.
On why she focuses on happiness instead of equality:
“Obviously, I think equality is laudable. You’re not going to find me on record saying, 'Don’t worry about equality."
“But the reality is that we’re seeking equality to men in a system built by and for men, according to their own life patterns, according to their desires, and according to what makes them happy. And so much of what has enabled men, and specifically white, relatively wealthy men in the U.S., to pursue happiness in their lives has been the invisible labor of women and people of color.
“So I was interested in asking the question, OK, so what if we took equality out of the question and quit trying to catch up to men in this system that isn’t built for us, and instead ask: What would we build, if we could build this from the ground up?”
On society’s hostility toward women having sex for fun:
“If we didn’t think there was something suspect about women seeking out sex purely for recreation, we wouldn’t be fighting about birth control coverage in the Affordable Care Act. We wouldn’t be fighting about abortion rights, frankly. We wouldn’t be fighting about, you know, what girls wear to high school prom. None of these debates would exist if we kind of had this agreed-upon moral framework, which is that sex for fun is good, even for women.”
On why food is a political issue, especially for women:
“And this sounds a little bit silly, this idea that food can be feminist or political -- but food, like sex, is a great, kind of fundamental human pleasure. Eating good food tastes good. You know, making food with a loved one or your family members or for other people can be a really pleasurable experience. Sharing a meal can be really pleasurable. But for women, food can be so fraught, because it’s tied to body size and weight and how you then are supposed to appear to others in the world.”