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Bearing Life: Women's Writings on Childlessness
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I was extremely disappointed in this book -- a large percentage of the stories/articles are about women who have or had children. It is deceptive and inappropriate to have stories about/from women who lost or were losing their children (for various reasons) to be included in a book about childlessness. Even the clip from Amy Tan, one of my favorite authors, seemed to miss the mark on this topic.
There also seems to be an inordiantely large percentage of the articles written by lesbians, and how being a lesbian was so intertwined with why they didn't want kids -- as if women who choose not to have children are possibly all latent homosexuals.
Furthermore, many of the stories focus on women who are dysfunctional -- furthering the myth that women without kids are 'damaged' as an explination for why they don't want children, like a 'normal' woman.
There was one particular article which I found interesting -- about the author's fear of becoming a bag lady because she has no children to care for her, while also aknowledging the fact that having children is no guarentee that sad fate will not occur.
Seperating content from creativity, I also that most of the stories and poems were poorly written. I might have enjoyed this more if the writing were beautiful, or insightful, or artistically significant, even if the topic was not what I expected.
I have read several books about childless/childfree-ness, and this is the worst on the topic in every way.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This ambitious anthology includes poignant memoirs, essays, poems, and excerpts from longer works. It is unified by its subject: childlessness, from the point of view (for the most part) of contemporary American women who, for various reasons, are without children. This is, we learn, no small thing.
The book is in three sections, "Facing Choice," Knowing Loss," and finally, "Bearing Life." Some of the writers are troubled, or grieving; some (Amy Hempel) are acidly funny, and many are coping with daughterhood, rather than motherhood. There are childhood diary entries, bitter memories, and great tenderness. The variety of experience in this anthology makes it an admirable and moving collection.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I have been searching for books on the topic of childlessness for sometime now & have not been terribly successful. This book spoke to me on so many levels that I can not begin to convey the impact. As a married woman in a Big Family it has been a struggle to remain childless in many ways. I have my moments of clarity & moments of emotional disaster & that is what made this book so powerful... The stories & poems carry the full range of emtions that we all experience somewhere along the line. If you are a member of this exclusive club you owe it to yourself to read this book & see clearly that you are not alone. I loved this book so much I have given it as a gift. Read it & you will not regret it.
-hefc
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Despite this book's jacket blurb announcing it's about women who are childless by choice or by circumstance, it's pretty much entirely written by and for women who are childless by choice. What's more, many are positively hostile to those who are childless through infertility. The essay by Joy Williams is a case in point: she declares all people who want children selfish -- especially selfish if (like 95% of Americans) they want children, even though they have a medical problem that prevents pregnancy, and even selfish if they choose to adopt. Despite spending a decade battling infertility and ending up with two children, I happen to believe that not having children is a perfectly legitimate choice for many people, and would never characterize them as selfish for making that choice. (That's WHY it's a choice, right?) And I understand that this book partly represents a backlash against the traditionalist notion that women who don't want to be mothers are selfish. But the result is extraordinarily hostile to parents and especially people who are childless without having chosen to be so. In fact, this book makes women who chose to live child-free sound like a much nastier group than I have ever found them to be in real life. It does them no service, believe me.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
With more and more women (and men) remaining child-free by choice, Ratner's anthology provides a varied and compehensive look at a topic that will gather more importance as the years go on. The essays range from the plain-spoken and humorous to the heartfelt and intellectual. THis is a good choice for a text in women's studies and cultural studies courses.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
In Bearing Life: Women's Writings On Childlessness, Rochelle Ratner has gathered an impressive and memorable collection of contributors to the first anthology to address what it means to live as women without children. The selections encompass the complete range of human emotions from denial to anger, from heartbreak and social censure to abortion, miscarriage, death and divorce, to alternative family creations and the celebration of solitude. Taken as a whole, Bearing Life is a memorable, articulate testament and highly recommended survey of the complexity and diversity of women's lives, choices, and social order with respect to the absence of personal procreation.
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on June 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
For people who do not have children this is one of those rare books where one can see that there are other people out there who may be in the same situation, or perhaps feel the same way about having - or not having - children. The fact that author has attempted over the years to collect esseys addressing this life circumstance is amazing itself. In the world where everyone is trying ot overcome one stigma over the another, the stigma of child free individual, or family is quite significant. It is intresting read for anyone looking to explore the topic.
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