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In Praise of Slow Living: A Feminist Response

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The slow movement, the cultural shift towards slowing down life's pace and seeking a more mindful speed at which to live, has much to offer everyone. The "quality over quantity" notion has been successfully applied to eating, traveling, sex, reading, and even parenting, providing many with the opportunity to reassess the pace at which they live, regardless of interests or lifestyle. But the slow movement, despite this mass potential, has particular feminist gems to offer to contemporary American women.

A perfect antidote to prior feminist ideologies of "doing it all," the slow movement urges women to prioritize their health, unplug and recharge, unitask, take time for their own happiness, and reflect on what they ultimately want. Pressure to ruthlessly excel at work, in school, and in the home is costing women more sleep (the National Sleep Foundation Women and Sleep poll determined that the average woman aged 30 to 60 sleeps only six hours and 41 minutes per night during the week) and more happiness. Despite climbing numbers in education and power, American women are dramatically less happy than they were in 1972 (when women were earning only seven percent of all law degrees and nine percent of all medical degrees).

This severe dip in contentment must be attributed to a woman's quality of life, a topic that isn't receiving as much attention as it should. In gaining more scholastic and professional opportunities in addition to childcare duties and partnerships to keep up, American women have now exhausted themselves to the point where their well-being comes last, if at all, after a string of other obligations.

Women are twice as likely to suffer from depression as men; one of the leading acknowledged causes is work overload. Pressing women to shine in each and every facet of their lives is quickly being recognized as an anti-woman sentiment, as well as completely unrealistic. Men have always been expected to be career-driven at any expense, while women, now occupying half of the work force, must also be super mothers, super models, and social butterflies. Prompting women to take advantage of every one of the growing number of opportunities available to them in the later half of the century has somehow grown into this all-consuming responsibility, to which only more are added.

The core of the feminist movement, giving women choices about how to live, is being lost in this mad dash to hastily conquer all realms of family, education, and career. Decisions, whether in time management or in life goals, must be made as a modern woman navigates her way through gender-asymmetrical pressures to excel in all domains of life.

The slow movement brings women's health and happiness back to the forefront and, through slower and more conscious living, encourages them to make thoughtful choices as opposed to an ever-lengthening to-do list.


Koa Beck is a fiction writer and literary blogger. Read her lit blog at www.koalani.net

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