The Atlantic

The (Feminist) Case for Women's Happiness

Jill Filipovic’s new book, The H-Spot, argues for a movement that de-emphasizes women’s equality—and focuses instead on their fulfillment.
Source: IgorZD / Shutterstock.com

Earlier this month, the New York Times ran an article on its website titled “How to Be Mindful While Cleaning the Bathroom.” The piece, part of the paper’s Meditation for Real Life series, offers advice on transforming that most thankless of chores into a spiritually rewarding activity, from the beginning (“once you’ve selected your cleaning tool, take a moment to notice it with your various senses”) and throughout the process (“maintain your focus on each circular, left-to-right or up-and-down motion”). The point of the exercise is not so much a clean bathroom—“you’re not chasing a result”as it is an embrace of the notion that even toilet-scrubbing, when gone about in the right way, can produce its own soft satisfactions. “With the practice of mindful cleaning,” the piece notes, “you can transform this once boring activity into a nourishing and enjoyable moment to yourself.”

Contentment via Clorox: These are, indeed, boom times for aspirational enjoyment. Work hard, play hard, and, if you possibly can—here is Americans’ optimism bias at its most granular—extract a nourishing moment from the removal of mildew. Happiness can be found anywhere, because happiness, in some sense, can be found everywhere: There it is on Facebook, there it is on TV, there it is in the news, there it is in the ads—presented not merely as a gift, but also as the product of a particularly cheerful strain of Darwinism. You may be

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