Some readers thought that Elizabeth Stewart was almost too much an embodiment of the worst trends in modern society. They wondered if she was simply made up.
Other readers debated whether her life was objectively stressful and needed downshifting, or whether she had it relatively good and was oppressed by her expectations.
I'd like to add a few observations. Back in the early 1990s, it became clear to me that feminists weren't going to make any compromises when it came to career and family. What they expected was that both men and women would work full-time and then share equally the traditionally female role.
It seemed poorly thought out to me. The male career role was demanding enough without suddenly having a very large extra burden placed on top of it. Accepting feminist demands would make everybody worse off.
I couldn't understand why the feminists of the era weren't aware of this. But perhaps there is an explanation.
According to feminist patriarchy theory, society has developed to maximise male autonomy at the expense of women. It is men who are supposed to have the power and privilege to be able to do as they want. For this reason, many feminists believe that men have relatively easy lives.
So perhaps there were feminists who assumed that the proposed arrangement wouldn't be so burdensome after all. In their eyes, the male role was the easy, privileged one, so women who adopted it would be better off even if they still had to do half of the old role.
Did Elizabeth Stewart have false expectations of what a traditionally male role would deliver to her? Reader Liesel suggested in the comments thread that this was the case:
She believes the society has existed to give men whatever they want, sacrifice free. This is not now, and never has been, the case. Based on this false notion, she has decided the world should give women whatever they want, sacrifice free, to make it up to them.
The first mistake, therefore, was to believe that men are a privileged oppressor class with easy lives that women could inherit.
There was, of course, a second major mistake. The original idea was that men would take over half of the traditionally female role. But this assumes that gender roles are simply social constructs which can easily be abandoned. It's true that men have taken up some extra household duties, but it's generally not anywhere near half.
So the expectations of women like Elizabeth Stewart have been twice confounded. The career role isn't the easy, non-sacrificing role that the theory suggested it to be; nor has her husband, despite being sensitive and supportive, taken over half of the mothering/homemaking role.
So she feels strung-out and enraged with her life.