Surfing the Waves of Feminism with Essayist Megan Daum

The Problem with Everything

My Journey Through the New Culture Wars

By Meghan Daum
Read by Meghan Daum
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (October 22, 2019)
Runtime: 6 hours and 54 minutes
ISBN13: 9781508298533


From “one of the most emotionally exacting, mercilessly candid, deeply funny, and intellectually rigorous writers of our time” (Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild) comes a seminal new book that reaches surprising truths about feminism, the Trump era, and the Resistance movement. You won’t be able to stop thinking about it and talking about it.

In the fall of 2016, acclaimed author Meghan Daum began working on a book about the excesses of contemporary feminism. With Hillary Clinton soon to be elected, she figured even the most fiercely liberal of her friends and readers could take the criticisms in stride. But after the election, she knew she needed to do more, and her nearly completed manuscript went in the trash. What came out in its place is the most sharply-observed, all-encompassing, and unputdownable book of her career.

In this gripping new work, Meghan examines our country’s most intractable problems with clear-eyed honesty instead of exaggerated outrage. With passion, humor, and most importantly nuance, she tries to make sense of the current landscape—from Donald Trump’s presidency to the #MeToo movement and beyond. In the process, she wades into the waters of identity politics and intersectionality, thinks deeply about the gender wage gap, and tests a theory about the divide between Gen Xers and millennials.

This signature work may well be the first book to capture the essence of this era in all its nuances and contradictions. No matter where you stand on its issues, this book will strike a chord.

My Take Oblong Shaped

I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader’s copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.


As a teenager a million years ago I was involved in the feminist movement in as much I volunteered to help with the NY State Women’s Meeting in 1977, and I desperately believed in the ERA. I even got to meet Gloria Steinem. Then I got to experience why it was necessary as a summer phone tech for ATT where I was abused and I was told the problem with America was women taking jobs only men should have.

I just could not, and still cannot, understand why anyone would be opposed to over half the people in the country being regarded equally in the eyes of the American Constitution.  I just never understood why it failed.  Even today women continue to earn less than men. The discrepancy, despite legislation from the sixties persists and a multitude of advances such that one rarely hears “the first woman to ___,” women still earn about 65-75 less than men. 

So, feminism is still an issue, and would be even if Hilary Clinton had been elected in 2016, it would still be an issue. And the face feminism presents to the world affects how it is seen; this is particularly important to the author as she discusses her journey through feminism’s waves.  It having been many years since I even thought of the many stages of feminism, nor did I have any idea what they were.  For this reason alone, the book is worth a listen. 

But,. even more, she ventures out on a tricky limb, a dangerous place in the “Believe her” movement, and that is a discussion on complicity.  And , she discusses with a basis in her own experience. It’s a tough thing to discuss – it risks the author being declared complicit with the Harvey Weinsteins of the world.  The issues are discussed with an eye on the additional problems and benefits of social media.

As the writer is the narrator, as with many non-fiction pieces, you know it has the phrasing she intended, so you know it is what she intended.  And, I need to mention it’s essays that can be read in a standalone fashion, but they also go together.  

If you are, or were, a feminist, or you have a younger person to whom you wish to impart a sense of history this is a good book to share with them. 

Good times?  The history I lived through was a period filled with hope; hope, renewed and destroyed time and again that women today and in the future would have the same rights any one else does.


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