I was part of the 'golden generation' of women who expected to go to university, have careers and enjoy our sexual freedom.
In our 20s, my friends and I pursued casual relationships, thinking all the 'serious stuff' would come along when we'd reached the peak of our success - i.e. in our 30s, when Mr Right would be attracted like a moth to the flame of our blazing glory.
This is what you might describe as a faulty compromise. According to feminism, the highest good in life is autonomy. Therefore, what matters most for a woman is preserving her independence. A woman can achieve this by following a single girl lifestyle based on careers, casual relationships, travel and consumerism.
The instinct to marry and have children, though, runs deep. So most women did not reject marriage and family entirely as life ambitions, even though these require both men and women to sacrifice a degree of autonomy. Instead, marriage was delayed as a life goal and made secondary to other ambitions.
With often disastrous results. It's not so easy for a woman to successfully marry and have children in her 30s - many will miss out. Zoe Lewis is one of those women who left things too late:
My own late 30s have been spent in an inelegant stumble towards validation - quickly trying to do the thing that defines a woman: have a baby.
And I found myself scratching around in the leftovers of my single male peers to find a partner with whom to have a child before it got too late.
It didn't have to be that way. She rejected many men when she was in her 20s:
Had I had this understanding of my inner psyche in my 20s, I would have mentally demoted my writing (and hedonism) and pursued a relationship with vigour.
There were plenty of men and even a marriage offer from someone with whom I would have happily settled down. But no, I wasn't prepared to give up my dreams, the life I had been told was the right and proper one for a modern woman.
She has friends in the same boat:
Sas Taylor, 38, single and childless, runs her own PR company. 'In my 20s, I felt as if I was invincible, unstoppable,' she says. 'Now, I wish I had done it all differently ...'
Nicki P, 35, single and also childless, works in the music industry and adds: 'It was all a game back then. Now, it's serious, and I am panicking. No one told me having fun isn't as much fun as I thought.'
So what has Zoe Lewis decided to do? She reluctantly, as a last resort, went to Denmark to be artificially inseminated. She's now six months pregnant. Her child will never know its father.
She doesn't think of this as a great act of feminist independence. She feels scarred by her experience of being a feminist modern woman, so much so that she didn't want to bring a girl into the world:
I'd convinced myself it was a boy because I felt I'd be better off with a male child. I didn't want my daughter to have to struggle with the pressure of trying to 'have it all' as I have. The sad and uncomfortable truth is that being a woman has often made me unhappy, and I didn't want my daughter to be unhappy either.
She could have done things differently. If she had aimed to marry well in her 20s, she might have had a husband to help support her literary aims - as well as a more fulfilled personal life. She herself seems to recognise this:
I wish I had been given the advice that I am now giving to my sister, who is 22. If you find a great guy, don't be afraid to settle down and have kids because there isn't anything to miss out on that you can't go back and do later - apart from having kids.
In the future, I hope there can be a better understanding of women by women. The past 25 years has been confusing for our sex, and I can't help feeling I've been caught in the crossfire ...
I have always felt an immense pressure to be successful, to show men I am their equal. What a waste of time that was...
And how does Zoe Lewis now feel about feminism? She has rejected the feminism of her mother's generation. She doesn't think that autonomy (choice, sexual liberation, the single girl lifestyle) should always be the overriding aim in life. Love and family are what matter in the end:
My mother - a film-maker - was a hippy who kept a pile of dusty books by Germaine Greer and Erica Jong by her bedside. (Like every good feminist, she didn't see why she should do all the cleaning.) She imbued me with the great values of choice, equality and sexual liberation.
As a result, I fought with my older brother and won, and at university I beat the rugby lads at drinking games. I was not to be messed with.
But, at nearly 37, those same values leave me feeling cold. Now, I want love and children, but they are nowhere to be seen.
When I was growing up, I was led to believe by my mother and other women of her generation that women could 'have it all', and, more to the point, that we wanted it all. To that end, I have spent 20 years ruthlessly pursuing my dream of being a successful playwright. I have sacrificed all my womanly duties and laid it all at the altar of a career. And was it worth it? The answer has to be a resounding no.
Ten years ago, I wrote a play called Paradise Syndrome. It was based on my girlfriends in the music business. All we did was party, work and drink. The play sold out and I thought: 'This is it! I'm going to have it all - success, power - and men are going to adore me for it.'
In reality, it was the beginning of years of hard slog, rejection letters and living on the breadline.
I wish a more balanced view of womanhood had been available to me. I wish that being a housewife or a mother hadn't been such a toxic idea to middle-class liberals ...
Increasing numbers of my strongly feminist contemporaries are giving up their careers and opting for love and children and baking instead. Now, I wish I'd had kids ten years ago, when time was on my side. But the essence of the problem, I can see in retrospect, is not so much time as mentality.
It's about understanding what is important in life, and from what I see and feel deep down, loving relationships and children bring more happiness than work ever can.
It's about understanding what is important in life. That does seem to be the crux of it. Is autonomy always what matters most? Or are there other goods in life which deserve our attention and which should be formative in shaping our character and life decisions?