In the United States, in the course of the twenty-first century, one
group after another came forward demanding fuller participation
in the professions and in governance. The first of these movements
was the Civil Rights Movement; the second, new wave feminism,
followed by persons with disabilities and gay rights (now LGBTQ
rights). We are currently in the process of working toward a new
understanding of later adulthood to reap the benefit of increased
longevity. In every one of these cases, the efforts of a marginalized
group to achieve recognition have had broad implications for
In trying to describe the changes in women’s lives, I have struggled
to find metaphors that express the novelty and the achievement
involved. When women were speaking of “juggling,” an anxiety-
producing metaphor, I suggested that they think of themselves as
artists “composing” lives consisting of diverse and changing compo-
nents. The process is creative. When men and women faced perplexity
about “life after retirement,” I emphasize that an artistic composition
could involve balance and harmony of diverse components across
time as well as in space and found myself emphasizing that increased
longevity is not just an “add-on” but that, like a room added to a
house, it leads to changes in the use of all the other rooms (or eras).
And I added to the metaphor a life as a house of multiple rooms to live
in, the metaphor of an “atrium”: a central space with multiple doors in
different directions, open to the sky, a new kind of freedom. Anne
Coon and Judy Feuerherm have described that new and amazingly
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