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The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much? Hardcover – March 28, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Voice; First Edition edition (March 28, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401303064
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401303068
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #571,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. It would be easy to dismiss this as yet another salvo in the mommy wars-—the debate over women opting out of careers to be stay-at-home moms. But Bennetts, a longtime journalist and writer for Vanity Fair, is more interested in investigating what she sees as the heart of the matter: economics. Through impressive research and interviews with experts and with real women, Bennetts shows that women simply cannot afford to quit their day jobs. Long-term loss of income has a cascading impact in areas such as medical benefits and retirement funds, not to mention a woman's sense of autonomy, derived from financial independence. Further, a career supplies a woman with a measure of security for herself and her children in the event of unexpected sickness or divorce. As any woman who has tried knows, returning to the workforce and finding a well-paying job after an absence of years, or even decades, is difficult. Not so long ago mothers would pin a dollar bill to their daughters' underclothes when they went out on a date in case, for some reason, they needed carfare home. Those mothers knew all to well that without money of your own it's easy to be left stranded. As Bennetts expertly shows, it's still true. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Many well-educated American women are giving up the struggle to balance career and motherhood and making the "willfully retrograde choice" of relying on men to support them and their children, Bennetts maintains. Financial dependency can jeopardize women's futures and those of their children, she warns. Drawing on interviews with hundreds of women as well as sociologists, economists, legal scholars, and other experts, Bennetts lays out the dangers of giving up careers. She looks at how new divorce laws have altered alimony, reducing the likelihood of a lifetime guarantee of support for stay-at-home mothers after divorce. She details the impact of a loss of income on medical and retirement benefits and weighs it against lifelong financial needs. Bennetts encourages women to consider a "fifteen-year paradigm," viewing their lives beyond the years of motherhood and asking themselves what they want from life when their children are grown and gone. Allowing women to tell their own stories of economic abandonment, Bennetts presents a cautionary tale for women pondering giving up economic independence. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

The one thing with this book that I didn't like was that she was extremely repetitive.
MistyDC
It would be nice if the mainstream media would take a hint and present a better balance to working woman and stay at home moms -- way to go Leslie Bennetts.
C. Campos
I absolutely loved this book - it was very validating and made me feel so good about the choices I made in my life.
Vivian Shnaidman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

188 of 203 people found the following review helpful By Bookphile TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
When I read through the reviews of this book before reading the actual book, it became clear to me that those women who worked or were inclined to work rated it highly while those who stayed at home or were inclined to stay at home rated it poorly. Why are we on two sides of the fence?

I speak from personal experiences when I say that it is of crucial importance for a woman to ensure her own economic independence. It's imperative to her own well-being and also that of her child. I would never suggest that money is more important than family because for me it isn't. I have no desire to hold a high-powered job making six or seven figures. I want only to make a decent living for myself and for my family.

Three years ago, I came to the harsh realization that for my own sake and that of my daughter, I had to leave my marriage. It was an agonizing decision made all the more so by the fact that I was a stay-at-home mom at the time. With no way of providing for myself or my child, I was terrified at the idea of leaving and yet I knew I had to for the good of everyone involved. The end result is that I have struggled for the past three years to provide for myself and my child. I could not possibly love my daughter more and had I been given the choice, I would have continued working so as not to have had to put her through this period of economic instability. Fortunately, she is very young and will likely not remember the vast majority of it but I will never forget the pain of knowing that I couldn't provide for my child the things I so desperately wanted to provide for her. I certainly gave her all the love and attention possible but neither of those things will put food in a child's belly or clothes on that child's back.
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56 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Jared Wood on April 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Why is "opting out" solely a woman's prerogative? Is this stay-at-home situation solely about personal choice? Are we giving up too much? Leslie Bennetts answers these questions and presents straighforward opinions on why so many women are reverting back to the days of Father Knows Best. I found this polemic to be engaging, enraging, and illuminating. While Bennetts forcefully defends her position (the title is The Feminine Mistake--guess which side of the Mommy Wars she is on), she does allow breathing room for those who do disagree with the notion that staying at home is not always the best option for women. Jam-packed with first-hand accounts of women's lives in various socio-economic conditions, Leslie Bennetts illustrates how women must take control of ther financial lives and not to simply rely on their man. I think this book is a must read for women AND men who are just starting out on the road of life. You can work AND rear strong, well-adjusted children; you just have to realize that every aspect of your life will not be perfect. Some of the comments from other readers (stay-at-home moms, mostly) who condemn this book are quite scary---they assume, quite smugly, that if only women choose DECENT men, then they do not have to worry about losing their husbands (to adultery, death, or illness). Sigh. It is this blase attitude that Bennetts addresses so well. I just hope the women who assume that their married life is peachy-keen are prepared--financially and emotionally--for life's realities.
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124 of 147 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Most of this book is made up of quotes from wealthy at-home mothers who seem eager to talk about how stupid, lazy, and dependent they are. We don't hear from mothers who are financially savvy, but who nevertheless have chosen (for all kinds of reasons, including financial) to spend some years out of their lives at home with their kids. There are also quotes from working moms about how exciting their careers are, what good examples they set for their children, how wonderful their kids are, and how fabulous they are. We learn that Bennetts herself is "an extremely committed and engaged parent," she "loves to cook," spends "inordinate amounts of time arranging flowers," and is "utterly absorbed by such tasks as the selection of sheets and towels." Her self-absorption really got tiresome.

The working moms interviewed employ full-time nannies at $30,000 a year, and have flexible schedules. One woman solved her child care issues by buying two additional homes (one for her aunt and one for her parents) near her own home. This made it possible, she says, for her to work and to have a family. Another working mom comments that she is in demand as a dinner-party companion, since she is not the "dreaded housewife." One claims her working status has given her the "power" to decide where the couple's pool will be installed at their country home. This is why they work? To be a desirable party guest and to dictate the location of a pool? Bennetts should spend some time in the real world and figure out why the rest of us work. She should also spend some time with some real at-home mothers and find out, shockingly, that most of them work hard and are interesting people. She should also examine the contradictions and double standards in the book.
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