204 of 244 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2011
I generally don't write reviews but I must thank the authors for writing this book. It should be interesting to note that I am a liberal black woman who used to consider herself a feminist...that is until I read this book. I found this book based on reviews from another book called Manning Up by Kay S. Hymowitz. I was trying to get to the source of the tension and battles between the sexes. It used to be that these so called battles were nothing more than harmless back and forth words...everyone would shake hands and go home. Nowadays it is going far beyond this harmless chatter into full blown fights where everyone loses. This book sheds light on feminism which may be causing this tension.
From a woman's perspective, I feel like we have all been bamboozled into thinking the career is everything. Fortunately, I've never quite fallen prey to this assumption but I have obsessed over my career a time or two nonetheless. My generation believed that once you graduated college and got a good career then your life would be set. Well, not so fast...most of us never factored the biological clock into this equation. And now I have friends in their 30s and 40s who have to make tough decisions of whether to hurry up and marry any man who wants to have a child or settle for a sperm bank. That's not what feminism was supposed to bring us. This is not what we bargained for when we accepted it. On the other hand, I have co-workers who are rushed to get into the office and rushed to get home to take over the 2nd shift (being a mother!). They're tired and weary and would rather stay home and take care of their family. It's an impossible dream because now their lifestyles are dependent upon a two income household.
From a black woman's perspective, I feel like feminism wasn't exactly our fight. Our fight in the 60's and 70's were for basic civil rights so I believe black women in that fight were bamboozled into thinking this would help black women in our community. Instead, we now have the highest rate of baby out-of-wedlockness and lead the way in abortions. It has utterly been a disaster for our community and now my generation and the generation after me are left to pick up the pieces. I viewed a documentary on welfare, which in my opinion, helped progress the feminism movement so that mothers would no longer have to lean on fathers for help..they would now look to the government.
I believe the authors make a great case against feminism in our society. They present numerous stories and examples of how feminism isn't working but the one piece of evidence most women can not refute is that women are simply not as happy as they were years ago. You can easily prove this by reading women's blogs, magazines, and other social media for women.
I will leave you with this excerpt from a letter written by Alice Walker's daughter about her life growing up as the child of a black feminist. It is quite shameful how she treated her daughter once she found out she was pregnant.
"my mum taught me that children enslave women. I grew up believing that children are millstones around your neck, and the idea that motherhood can make you blissfully happy is a complete fairytale...My mother's feminist principles coloured every aspect of my life. As a little girl, I wasn't even allowed to play with dolls or stuffed toys in case they brought out a maternal instinct. It was drummed into me that being a mother, raising children and running a home were a form of slavery. Having a career, travelling the world and being independent were what really mattered according to her...I love my mother very much, but I haven't seen her or spoken to her since I became pregnant. She has never seen my son - her only grandchild. My crime? Daring to question her ideology..Then there is the issue of not having children. Even now, I meet women in their 30s who are ambivalent about having a family. They say things like: 'I'd like a child. If it happens, it happens.' I tell them: 'Go home and get on with it because your window of opportunity is very small.' As I know only too well...Then I meet women in their 40s who are devastated because they spent two decades working on a PhD or becoming a partner in a law firm, and they missed out on having a family. Thanks to the feminist movement, they discounted their biological clocks. They've missed the opportunity and they're bereft....Feminism has betrayed an entire generation of women into childlessness. It is devastating."
30 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2013
I wanted to like this book as I found Suzanne Venker's 7 Myths of Working Mothers to be both informative and insightful. (It did not stop me from being a working mother, but it did help me make peace with my decision to "downshift" my career and move to part-time work, a move that has been personally difficult for me but is what I believe is best for my son and family.)
This book reads as a polemic and lacks nuance. Men are cast as innocent victims who suffer at the hands of women who are greedy, narcissistic, harpies. Further, the authors look back upon the era before the 1960's with extremely rose colored glasses as a time where girls were girls (and therefore completely fulfilled in their roles as wives and mothers) and men were men (and therefore utterly content with their roles as breadwinners). Were that really the case why was the culture so ripe for the changes and upheaval wrought by the 60's "cultural revolution"? Clearly there were a lot of people, both men and women, who were dissatisfied with the status quo and their lot in life. It seems an overly simplistic analysis to conclude that feminism is responsible for pretty much all of the negative changes that have happened in society over the past 40 years, which is the basic premise of the book.
I am very open to arguments that the second wave of feminism had some misguided and harmful outcomes--I think that most women who have felt the longing for a baby (a longing that can be physical, emotional and even spiritual), experienced a ticking "biological clock" and struggled with guilt and/or dissatisfaction when faced with decisions around putting their babies into group care can acknowledge that there are biological realities in our lives that cannot be denied. And any parent who has raised a child cannot help but acknowledge that nature plays as much of a role as nurture in defining the preferences and behaviors of our sons and daughters. That said, the authors argue for a roll-back to traditional roles (separate-but-equal "pedestals") that strikes me as unrealistic as well as wrong-headed (and maybe even harmful)--as well as utterly impossible. (This is a case where Phyllis Schlafly won a significant battle with the defeat of the ERA--but ultimately she lost the war.)
I can't bring myself to long to go back to a time where women could't quality for credit and had such severely constrained opportunities that teacher, nurse, secretary and librarian formed the full suite of available careers. Nor is my husband interested in having the emotionally distant relationship he had with his father and we have observed in earlier generations of our families. There has to be a better way and a middle ground--unfortunately, this book neither outlines nor embraces such a vision; I will have to keep looking for the voice of moderation and wisdom I long for and can find from neither "liberal" or "conservative" thinkers.
I didn't find the book to be all bad; it has some common sense advice that I wish we could disseminate more widely to teens and young people, such as the 3 "non-negotiables" outlined on pages 176-177.
I don't think we'd be better off had Phyllis Schlafly won the war, but I do long for a different outcome than the one we wound up with.
173 of 231 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2011
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. As a woman in her late 20's who recently made the transition from career world to domestic life, raising my son, this book is exactly what I needed. People talk about the working mother's guilt, but there is a lot of guilt for those of us with feminism ideology ingrained in our brain who decide their current calling to be their children. When making the decision to quit my job (which I loved and I was good at) I knew, deep down,that I wanted to be a full time mother. I knew from the beginning (in college) that I eventually wanted to be the one raising my children, shaping them into little, respectable members of society. But, when the time came to quit, I felt an incredible amount of pressure to remain at work. Not from my husband, but from society. There is a certain response you get from people when you tell them you are a stay at home mom. It is like, "Oh, good for you." or "Isn't he a lucky boy", which on the surface seem like decent enough responses, but the condescending facial expressions and tone of voice that go along with them are uncomfortable to endure.
This book is written for women, like me, who know it is their duty to take responsibility for the people they bring into this world, but feel they owe it to the world to remain in the workforce because of societal guilt. "We've come so far and made so many advancements. We owe it to ourselves and to the women who came before us to stay at work and continue to build a career." (That was the guilt I had at least). But, what is important that this book points out is no matter how much you think you "owe it to" whomever.... you owe it to your children to give them the best upbringing you can.
So many women say "I wish I could stay home, but I need to work". This is the authors point, if we would follow nature and stick to gender roles, you wouldn't need that. Of course there are always uncontrollable circumstances (the loss of a spouse, temporary unemployent, etc.) that you would need to do what you need to do, but that isn't the majority. Do you need to work to support your family, or your lifestyle? Sometimes sacrifices have to be made.
You will hear people bash these authors because they want to "send people back to the 50s". That isn't true. They want strong family values back. They do not argue women do not belong in the work place. On the contrary, they simply say there is a time and place for it all. Just not all at once.
Raise your children. Love them. Hug them. Teach them to be decent human beings. You'll have the rest of your life to build a career.
What's the old saying? No one says on their death bed, "I wish I would have spent more time at the office."
162 of 219 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 2011
I have to say up front that I'm a late Boomer Euro-American male. A few years ago I decided to take a hard look at SWF (second wave feminism) to try to make some sense out of it. What happened? Why? Who are the winners? Who are the losers? I wanted to find a book that was informative and neutral. But that book doesn't exist to my knowledge. It's either thumbs up or thumbs down. That alone needs some explaining.
The authors write, "When we talk about Americans' culture war, what we're often really talking about is women and their role in society." (p82)
Often yes - but not always. And it really confuses the issue when people start screaming `bigot', `racist', `homophobe', and `sexist' - because we tend to treat the culture wars as a single package. Bear with me here, because this is important to the issue of feminism. I've decided there are seven aspects to the culture wars that emerged out of the late 60s and early 70s:
1.) Eurocentrism (race)
2.) Judeo-Christian centrism (religion)
3.) Phallocentrism (gender)
4.) Heterosexual-centrism (sexual orientation)
5.) High class centrism (class)
6.) High culture centrism (civilization)
7.) Anthropocentrism (environmentalism)
These are my seven pillars of 60s mythology. It's a reactionary movement against these `centrisms'. And like Christianity, it's a `last shall be first' mythology. We were all a bunch of young Robin Hoods fighting for the rights of oppressed groups such as gays, Buddhists, Native Americans, and endangered species. It was a good time to be an oppressed group.
Now when we hear the words `culture wars' in the news it could be a debate about same-sex marriage (number four on my list: gay rights), or it might be a debate about teaching cultural studies in public schools (number one on my list: race). There was talk of the culture wars concerning the film `Avatar' (number six on my list: culture), and the film `The Golden Compass' (number two on my list: religion). The `culture wars' refers to much more than just feminism. Still, I believe the authors are correct when they say that feminism dominates the wars. There are just so many women with so much power and influence, and it affects so many lives, so profoundly. But there is only one catch, as the authors of this book make clear: women were never oppressed.
Take a majority of the population, that has had the right to vote since 1920, that come from all classes of society (unlike certain ethnic minorities), that have the ability to access a man's pay check, that have the freedom to say `I don't' rather than `I do', and that are the mothers, sisters, daughters, and wives of male law makers. It doesn't make sense. There are over 58,000 names on the Vietnam memorial. All but a few are the names of men. To this day most jobs that are dangerous and physically demanding are performed by men. When the Titanic sank women were given a seat in the life boats. Men were expected to go down with the ship. Try to imagine another oppressed group given priority in those life boats. We've been living this lie of female oppression for forty years. But why? Why does it persist?
The authors point out that many women, especially feminist icons, don't mind being victims, blaming their misery and failures on a society that is designed to thwart their happiness. True, but I think there's an even greater reason. As George Gilder explained in his 1973 book, the new rules of the sexual revolution gave men what we've always wanted: freedom from responsibility and access to women. There are plenty of things that men don't like about SWF, such as sexual harassment accusations, gray rape accusations, gender bias in child custody battles, and a general degradation of our innate natures. But consider this question: Is there anything in the universe that would be so terrible about SWF that would cause men to be willing to give up access to p**sy? (not sure if i can use that word here) But think about it. This is why I see so many men, like knights in shining armor, defending SWF, catering to those poor oppressed victims of the patriarchy - and seething at the thought of returning to a pre-60s morality concerning sex. It's also the main reason why so many men, especially young men, are hostile to religion. "It's all a bunch of BS", they say. "It's too dogmatic." Any positive effects of religion are no match for the libido paradise SWF offers.
It's particularly disturbing to me to hear feminists talk about spreading their enlightened ideas to poorer countries. I see this as a plan to free up women from poorer countries for the benefit of more powerful men from wealthier countries. It's the same old line of liberation. But we might first want to consider the implications to our own culture before we export our ideas. The destruction of the nuclear family isn't quite as traumatic among men and women with six figure incomes as it is for the average worker. And it isn't as traumatic to the average worker in America as it will be for he average worker in poorer countries. For now we would do well to keep our decadence to ourselves.
I've looked at both sides of feminism. Here is my short list of pro-SWF books:
1. The Feminine Mystique, Betty Freidan, 1963
2. Against Our Will, Susan Brownmiller, 1975
3. Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, Gloria Steinem 1983
4. Feminist Theories: from margin to center, Gloria Watkins (Bell Hooks), 1984
5. Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women, Susan Faluda, 1991
6. The Beauty Myth, Naomi Wolfe, 1994
7. Feminism is for Everybody, Bell Hooks, 2000
8. No Turning Back, Estelle S. Freedman, 2002
9. The F Word, Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, 2004
10. The Feminine Mistake, Leslie Bennets, 2008
And here is my short list of anti-SWF books:
1. Sexual Suicide, George Gilder, 1973 (revised as Men and Marriage, 1984)
2. Why Men Are the Way They Are, Warren Farrell, 1986
3. The Myth of Male Power, Warren Farrell, 1993
4. Who Stole Feminism, Christina Hoff Sommers, 1994
5. Domestic Tranquility: A brief Against Feminism, F. Carolyn Graglia, 1998
6. The Return to Modesty, Wendy Shalit, 1999
7. Professing Feminism, Patai & Koertge, 2003
8. Feminist Fantasies, Phyllis Schlafly, 2003
9. Women Who Make the World Worse, Kate O'Beirne, 2006
10. The Flipside of Feminism, Venker and Schlafly, 2011
Forty years of second wave feminism has indeed changed our world. But whether that change has been beneficial depends on one's perspective. If all women could have lives like Cokie Roberts it would be wonderful. And if all men could be as successful as Bill Clinton, have a good wife and a harem, that would be great as well. On balance I'd say the result has been a few big winners at the expense of many more less fortunate men and women.
These authors are strongly conservative. But they recognize that the problem of SWF cuts across the political spectrum. They write:
"It doesn't matter whether people identify as 1970s (i.e., liberal or leftist) feminists, conservative feminists, or even non-feminists --most Americans think like a feminist even as they vociferously deny being one." (p169)
I was delighted by statements like this and agree with most everything the authors say. But there are just a couple of things to nitpick. The authors write:
"Women in America CAN have everything they want out of life, but they must first break free from feminist assumptions and distortions." (p173)
The second half of this sentence rings true. American women, and many men incidently, have been brainwashed. But telling women that they can have `everything' reminds me of feminists in the late 70s and early 80s telling women they could `have it all': career, marriage, kids. It was a little white lie to get as many women as they could on their side. Women who follow Venker's and Schlafly's advice might later regret it when they realize they've made a `feminine mistake'. Spare the hyperbole. Life is full of compromises.
The only other complaint I have is that these authors present men too much as innocent victims. The truth is we're just as much to blame for this mess as the bratty upper-middle-class white feminist women that scream and whine about 5000 years of oppression. "And we couldn't even have our own credit cards", they'll complain. [Violins playing in the background]
There is no middle ground here. And I don't see either side in this cat fight relenting. The exhilaration women have over their social empowerment is alive and well, and there are many female authors encouraging women to stay the course, keep up the fight; don't give in to the demands of that cruel patriarchy.
But if you're a guy like me who never wanted to look at either side of this debate, because it's just so convoluted, irreconcilable, and depressing, I strongly recommend you force yourself to read this book and some of the others on my lists. Trust me; it will be much more profitable than watching another ball game.
81 of 111 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2011
Suzanne Venker and Phyllis Schlafly do a great job of spelling out the harm that has been done to America by the feminist movement. Most interesting and upsetting were the stats documenting the behavioral problems suffered by children who spend a considerable amount of time in day care.
While many will no doubt accuse Venker and Sclafly of wanting to hold women back from promising careers, nothing could be farther from the truth. The book spells out the need for "sequencing" life's events in order to be successful.
The Flipside of Feminism should be required reading for all young couples about to start their journey through life.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2013
I wanted to love this book.
Suzanne Venker and Phyllis Schlafly speak about a topic important to me: The consequences of feminism in America. It was very short and I read it in a couple hours. Unfortunately, while it reads like an impassioned speech it rarely connects the dots in a reasoned, concise manner and their conclusions are politically skewed.
They consistently use provocative language stating that the "problem" is liberalism and the "solution" is conservatism. I was honestly surprised that this was their core conclusion. Falling regularly into neither "conservative" or "liberal" categories, I was more amused than anything when I started, slightly dismayed that any gems in their arguments would be overshadowed by the strong political prose. When I started the first chapter, I took the political message with a grain of salt and anticipated they would come to the more interesting arguments later. To my shock, this was not the case. "Conservatism is a natural state", "Smart women (aka Conservatives)", Feminists [and Liberals] "succumb to bitterness and discontent".
There are many good points made in this book. Some of the most powerful arguments include interviews from disillusioned feminists and cited statistics on marriage and mental issues for children. However, in most cases they fail to rationally back up their arguments and I'm forced to concede to a reviewer I read prior to purchasing: "Correlation is not Causation".
The best arguments I would highlight as:
- Feminism has seeped into and affected our entire culture, making powerful friends among politicians and people in the media.
- Women have a biological clock that is ticking down and choosing an appropriate career is key should they CHOOSE to have a family or even get married in the future.
- The children of women (especially single mothers) in demanding careers are at TERRIBLE risk for mental issues such as depression and anxiety.
- Two effects of feminism in America has been breaking down of gender roles and the emasculation of men.
It is a shame that it is so politically skewed or I might recommend it to people who are also unhappy with the effects of feminism in America. I believe there are real gems in some of their arguments and citations, but alas the message is lost in the noise.
I would recommend you read the book if:
- You are a conservative or conservative-leaning woman looking to find examples why it is honorable and commendable to be a "live-at-home" mother. They make a compelling argument that you don't have to cave in to the feminist pressure flooding today's society. This book is meant for you.
- You would like to educate yourself more on progressive (my term) influence in politics and the media. Unfortunately, while this book dwells far too long on this, there are more comprehensive resources on that topic out there.
I would NOT recommend you read the book if:
- You are a liberal or liberal-leaning individual. They unfortunately wrote the book in such an antagonizing manner that I fear you would be too agitated by the politics to glean any useful information.
- You are a Christian woman (I'm Christian) who is easily swayed by passionate arguments. If you're sufficiently wise to separate the wheat from the chaff there is real material to glean here, but I found much of the arguments lacking. I fear any who are easily swayed will merely discard one political indoctrination for another.
Suzanne Venker, Phyllis Schlafly, I give you my respect and congratulations for writing this book. I truly enjoyed it and I hope you don't find my criticisms insulting. It was a controversial topic in an unfriendly world and I'm very glad that there are women like you who are aware of some of the dangers.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2013
I've said this for years, we've allowed strangers to tell us what us wrong witg our values and our families.
25 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on April 25, 2012
I had thought and felt for quite some time that something was awry; particularly when I stared into my infant daughter's face and wondered how I could ever let this beautiful being out of my sight for eight hours a day while I went to a job. My husband must have seen something in me I didn't, first because he married me in my cranky, man hating state, second, because he stood by my side as I struggled with how to do what a good feminist girl shoud and how to do what is right. Up until my daughter was born, I had done what liberal media and feminism had told me to do: Graduated with a double degree, earned a masters, put off marriage, hated men or at least distrusted them greatly while belittling their very existence, and loathed the thought of ever being locked behind a front door all day. But here I was, a mother and wife, feeling an incredible, almost primal, need to stay home with this little being. After bucking the feminist system for four years, staying home with my baby, birthing a second daughter at home (just to buck the feminist medical system of "put up and shut up"), I found "Flipside." I read and reread parts of the book. I cried, I fumed! I healed! It was like all the pieces of the puzzle, everything I had been doing that went against everything I had learned, fell into place. Suzanne is not only an informative writer, she is honest, candid, all the other cliche things you want to say about a good writer, and better!! She makes sure to touch on all of the really important issues like money, sex, education, historical facts vs. fiction, emotional and mental health, children, with a very tender approach to religion as she understands her audience may not be of one spiritual sect. She is the validation women my age, and hopfully our daughters, will need to live in a society that puts women against men and eachother when primaly, we want to care for and build our homes, families, communities, and more.
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2013
As a man, I am not supposed to have a voice about women or feminism (according to the feminists).
Yet when I was in college, I called myself a feminist-- in the sense that I was for equal rights for women. I married a strong woman who has a career in public leadership, and I support her in this.
A few decades of experience, however, makes this book ring very true. The fact is, feminism has gone way too far past balance. It has turned into man-bashing. In insisting that men and women are not different from each other, feminists are frustrated that all women do not follow their choices. They demand equality of outcomes and choices, not just equality of opportunity. In doing so, they cause all kinds of mischief. A very small example is the destruction of many college sports that were typically dominated by males, through the use of quotas and proportionality rules-- that is, if college X can't cobble together enough women wrestlers to make a team, then they have to shut down the men's wrestling team or run the risk of lawsuits. It should be obvious this is unfair to men-- not very many women want to be wrestlers, so you can't either. It would be more obvious if it were flipped around. Not enough men want to do ballet, so we'll shut down the ballet program for women, too.
In short, modern feminism is a threat to women because it demands that they make choices which radicals think will lead to equality of *outcomes*. It's no longer just about whether a woman has equal choice or opportunity. When women naturally tend to choose different things than men, feminism actively tries to undermine them. And it's a threat to men because in an attempt to force society into their mold, feminists are denying men the choices to be what they naturally want to be. Feminism has turned from giving women more choice and opportunity, to denying choice and opportunity to both men and women and attempting to dictate how they should live, often contrary to the natural tendencies of the two sexes.
All in all, this book should "empower" (to use a favorite feminist term) women that are truly open-minded and don't necessarily want to be told by radicals how they should live and what choices they should make. It shows women that they can be in control of their lives, but informed with a more realistic view of how male and female natures interact, and knowing that life is not all about doing whatever you want-- that in the big picture, life satisfaction is much higher, especially for women, in planning for and pursuing more than just a career. And, that they will be much happier if they are not constantly feeling like victims, but realistically making choices that follow their own instincts and agendas and not those of radicals.
Nevertheless, feminism has become such a pervasively corrosive force in our culture that I hesitate to recommend this book to my wife. I am not sure if she will simply shut down at the premise and take offense, or would truly be open-minded enough to consider the ideas within.
Isn't that scary, if you think about it? You're not even allowed to question something that is so destructive to society and even to your own relationships and life choices.
95 of 134 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2011
The Flipside of Feminism is a refreshing look at the realities of women's lives and the attempts of the feminist establishment to push women into a box that fits their delusions. Going from unveiling Betty Freidan's miserable marriage to the failed promises of a utopian world where men and family are marginal, this book explains, in plain language, why many women are unfulfilled trying to live the media ideal of what their life should be. It also offers a path back to a saner and balanced life that supports what women truly want - by a definition that Freud and Gloria Steinem would not continence. If you are a woman not planning to live with either of these two people, I would recommend this book. It is very instructive reading for men on what went wrong with relationships since the 1970s and what to look for and advocate in both women's and men's attitudes to repair the damage.