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Collins is half-black — expensively educated and housed liberals.You would assume that group would mirror itself online and stay small and homogeneous.When she Googled “perimenopause,” it amused her to read that one of the symptoms was “impending sense of doom,” and she noted her discovery in an uncomplicated (until recently) manner: a Facebook post. one friend joked darkly, because of course what Woolf did, at 59, was kill herself. Collins, now 48, had created a secret Facebook group with just that title, inviting her friends into the internet era’s version of a consciousness-raising group, where women of a certain age could talk about things they didn’t want to share with husbands, partners or children.Friends wrote back, half-seriously, suggesting she start a group for their cohort, but what to call it? That would be everything from the peevishly quotidian (complaints about dry skin or men not shutting cabinets) to the truly harrowing (suicide ideation; job loss at middle age; bad marriages; domestic abuse; and children suffering from drug addiction). There would be lots of chatter around sex: requests for tips on technique; concern about “the handful of limp” of an older boyfriend; vaginal atrophy; dry vaginas; sex toys; bad sex; no sex; anal sex; the viability of hiring a male prostitute; who has an orgasm first during sex: weird places to have sex; obligatory sex; sex with an ex; tantric sex; group sex; and many, many posts about coconut oil (see “dry vaginas,” above). Collins, who lives in Brooklyn Heights in a modish duplex apartment overlooking the East River, is emblematic of a certain demographic: mostly white — though Ms.But within a year of its founding, WWVWD, to use its colloquial abbreviation, had more than 1,300 members; the week after the presidential election there was an increase of another 1,000, Ms.
In 2013, in an article for Elle magazine, she wrote about being arrested three times: for assaulting her first husband, for assaulting his girlfriend and for violating an order of protection he had taken out against her, by overturning a coffee table. Collins is happy to share her labial regimen (see “coconut oil,” above), the minutiae of her sex life and the unraveling of her second marriage, which ended in part because of the meddling of a Woolfer, as it happens.“The marriage was strained, and I had been wanting a second dog for a while,” Ms. “My husband didn’t, but like most women I do most of the work around the house and pay my fair share.” She asked the Woolfers, in essence, “Am I a jerk if I just go ahead and get the dog?
There are now more than 7,600 Woolfers across the country, from New York City, Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles, as you might expect, but also from Arkansas, Chicago and Maine. Collins, who spent a few weeks last month on a cross-country road trip with a new boyfriend meeting Woolfers in Memphis and Telluride, Colo., among other spots, has a new book, out in April, called “What Would Virginia Woolf Do?
And Other Questions I Ask Myself as I Attempt to Age Without Apology.” It is a sometimes wince-inducing primer on fashion, sex, marriage, divorce, money and health gleaned from her experience as Woolfer in chief, and with contributions from her Woolfer sisters. Collins details her adventures in the orgy tent at Burning Man (she and her ex brought their own sheets, and kept to themselves), her struggles with depression and her adherence to an expensive beauty routine that involves fake eyelashes and Botox.
And there are the lurkers and the hate readers, along with those who are repelled or bored or disappointed by the particular window into women’s lives that the group affords them.“I always think that Virginia Woolf would be mortified at having her name associated with this group,” said Daphne Merkin, the memoirist and cultural critic, who is a member of the group but does not post anything.
“At first I thought it was going to be some kind of literary meeting of the minds.