Moving Through It: Poser by Claire Dederer

I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about women’s rights recently.  Not exactly through my own choosing, I was taking a class entitled ‘Women and Nation’, though I haven’t really been minding it.  My mom, at this point in a conversation, would probably make a remark about feminism.  Either asking me whether or not I perceive myself to be one, or commenting on how reluctant her students are to self-identify with the term.

On one hand, I understand their hesitation.  Growing up in the nineties and the noughties, it doesn’t really feel like a movement that impacts us right now. I realize it does, more and more so, but as a child I never thought there was any differences between boys and girls.  You could have knocked me over with a feather to say that men earned more money than women, or something of that ilk.

Of course, these issues do still plague us.  If there’s anything I’ve learnt from taking my course ‘Women and Nation’, it’s that the whole concept of women’s history as being only for women is ridiculous.  What’s the craziest aspect?  That boys still seem reluctant to sign up for and attend a class that is, supposedly, not directed at them.

There were two boys in that module, I’d sat they showed up for 25% of the lectures and 15% of the seminars.  Really?  I don’t get the option to sit out Dante because a woman didn’t write it, go to class.  Be a man.

Poser is framed through the author’s experiences as a child of the seventies and as a child of a first-wave feminist.  The book is a memoir about Dederer’s journey as a mother filtered through her experiences with yoga, but, more noticeably, filtered through her experiences as a daughter.

She spends a lot of time describing her unusual youth, which, she argues, impacts her current predicament.  Instead of living in a domesticated universe, she still longs for the freedom that she felt when younger.  The freedom she felt as the daughter of a feminist.

While Dederer’s reflections are well-written and inriguing, the book feels a bit oddly pieced together.  You float from one story to the next with a loose sense of time that the yoga poses don’t help to define.  There’s a lot of time spent in the early years of her daughter’s life, then, lo-and-behold, she has a son and on the next page he’s standing up.  This made disoriented me.  I like a clear timeline, I like to know what’s coming next.

Dederer’s writing almost reads more like a collection of memoirs as opposed to a single story.  The individual chapters are moving, but don’t tie together.   I wanted to feel the emotional ark, but I didn’t.  I wanted to relate to the characters, but I couldn’t.  While the book is so very near great, the narrative structure gets in the way.

Of course, I might have just been thrown off by the giant laughing attack I had when she flashesback to 1973.  Seriously, I must be the only person in the world who is capable of choosing a book so closely related to their favorite song.

Do you enjoy reading memoirs?  Would you identify yourself as a feminist? yes, I am being polemical here!

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