An Individual Woman’s Experience

Author Interview
Fran Abrams Author Interview

I Rode the Second Wave is a memoir told in poetry through the eyes of a woman whose life paralleled the second wave of feminism. Why was this an important book for you to write?

When I first thought about writing a memoir of my experiences in the context of the second wave of the women’s movement, I researched what other books were available on this topic. While I found excellent books written by historians, I found none that addressed an individual woman’s experience in this time frame. When I realized, first, that my life epitomized this important period in history, and second, that my skills as a poet provided me with the tools to compose this memoir, I decided it was important for me to write this book. I followed the advice that Toni Morrison gave in 1981 in a speech to the Ohio Arts Council: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

What do you feel is a common misconception people have about the second wave of feminism?

I think the most common misconception during the second wave was that a woman did not “need” to work if she had a husband to support her. The idea that a woman might want a career to find meaning in her life was an unfamiliar concept at that time. Betty Friedan’s book, published in 1963, titled The Feminine Mystique, revealed how many women wanted a career to add value to their lives while this idea was not generally accepted in our male-dominated culture. In my poem “And Then There Were Two” I write of having two children and still wanting a career of my own:

Well-meaning friends wanted to know how I could leave
my daughters and go to work. I knew I was a better mother
because I was not with them all day. Children, they say,
are sensitive to their parents’ moods. I knew my children
were happy when I was working to fulfill my dream of a career.

Unfortunately, we still live in a culture where oftentimes it is assumed that men should be in charge, that men are more competent than women, that women should defer to men. And there continue to be men who would be perfectly happy to see all women as housewives, not people with careers. Many of those men are running for public office or already have been elected. That is why the feminist movement continues to be relevant and important.

What were some ideas that were important for you to explore in your poetry?

I wrote almost 100 poems before choosing the ones that would be included in the book. With the help of my editor, I selected the ones that are included because they explore the most important ideas I wanted to share: how women were often treated as sex objects, how women with husbands were not expected to earn a living—certainly not to earn the same amount as a man doing the same job—and how women were not expected to take on positions of responsibility supervising men. I also included poems in the book that explore what was going on in the country at the same time feminism was attempting to move women’s issues forward, segregation being particularly significant. As I point out in one of the poems, it should come as no surprise that women who were accustomed to marching for civil rights were ready to march for women’s rights. I continue to believe that the most important way to get the attention of politicians is to show strength in numbers.

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your book?

The most important point I hope to make is that we must not go back. Once you’ve read about what everyday life was like for a woman growing up when I did—or if you too are that woman—then you understand the importance of that message. And if you are a younger woman, I hope it helps you understand: we must not go back. The good old days were not good for women. We’re at a crossroads in this country, and it will be frightening if we go back. My story tells how I went forward. And I hope that our daughters and granddaughters and their daughters and granddaughters will continue to move forward to create equal opportunities for all women.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

I Rode the Second Wave: A Feminist Memoir is an autobiographical story told in poetry through the eyes of a woman whose life paralleled the second wave of feminism, a movement that began in the 1960’s and focused on equal opportunities and equal pay for women.

The second wave changed the expectations of women from the homemakers of the 1950’s to career women. The author was a freshman in college in 1962 determined to enter the workforce in a professional position. After completing her graduate degree in 1969, she was rebuffed in job interviews by men who assumed she would leave her job soon after she married and had children. She accepted a job in an office where she was the only professional woman. She married in 1970, had her first child in 1976 and her second in 1984. She worked for 41 years, retiring in 2010.

Placing her story in the context of women’s marches and feminist goals, the author tells how she grew up in a world that expected women to become homemakers and how she combined her desire for a professional career with marriage and motherhood at a time when mothers with careers were just starting to be accepted in our culture.

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on December 22, 2022, in Book Reviews. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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