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Women and Desire: Beyond Wanting to Be Wanted Paperback – November 28, 2000

10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In providing some answers to Freud's famous question about what women really want, Young-Eisendrath draws on her experience as a psychotherapist and on ideas gleaned from Buddhism, Jung and feminist writings. She argues that most women don't have a clue about what they want because society has programmed them simply to want to present a desirable image. Illustrating her thesis with mythic tales and case studies of her own patients, the author shows how our culture recognizes two female stereotypes: the beautiful muse and the ugly hag-bitch who wields power to fulfill her own desires. Women should not be objects of desire, but subjects of desire, she writes, not only in personal relationships but in the workplace. While women may believe that competence leads to success at work, she contends that "what leads to power is self-promotion, making the right connections and being self-confident." According to Young-Eisendrath, women's rampant consumerism, shoplifting and binge eating are simply manifestations of unconscious desires. Although she contends that established religions have subordinated women, the author advocates learning to distinguish pathological desires from authentic ones through traditional spiritual practices or New Age feminist communities. She treads on familiar ground, but Young-Eisendrath writes with authority, offering women a valuable perspective on understanding and changing self-defeating behaviors. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

What do women want? According to Young-Eisendrath (psychiatry, Univ. of Vermont Medical Coll.; The Gifts of Suffering), women want to be wanted. Hoping for approval and self-validation, women often conform to ideals of beauty, sexual attractiveness, and femininity before they have identified their own desires and needs. Such choices lead to resentment and a loss of self-confidence when reality does not meet expectations. Using examples from myths, fairy tales, and case studies from her own work as a Jungian analyst, Young-Eisendrath demonstrates that women can learn to know their strengths and weaknesses and become the subjects of their own desires rather than the objects of others'. Young-Eisendrath challenges widely accepted beliefs about female power and proposes an alternate view that encompasses both compassion and cooperation. Recommended for public libraries.ALucille M. Boone, San Jose P.L., CA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 253 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press; First Paperback Edition edition (November 28, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609805304
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609805305
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,095,995 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Young-Eisendrath brilliantly opens the reader's eyes to the female's struggle for an identity in a patriarchal society. Fables, intertwined magnificently throughout each core concept, act as examples of the concocted lives women cling to and men (and women) perpetuate. I identified strongly with the author's comparison of being the "subject of one's own desire" versus being the "object of another's desire." Reading this book, I realized how both women and men are forced to act in a stereotypical drama. Men - aggressors, emotional corpses, breadwinners, dominators. Women - weaklings, dependents, passivists, bitches. Neither role is healthy, nor genuine. Young-Eisendrath has tackled one side of the problem. Who will take on the other?
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
In the first 23 pages, this book changed my life. She hit the nail on the head, so to speak about the crux of my biggest subconscious issue, being the object of desire. This book is a must for all women and definitely for men who want to know and understand women more fully. This book opened me up to the knowledge that I am not irreparably broken, and that coming into my own power is still well within my reach. Thank you! Thank you!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 22, 2002
Format: Paperback
The title of this book spoke volumes to me before I even cracked the cover. Reading about her perspective that women want to be wanted rather than fully know was right on target for me and because of the new found perspective, I felt released from the need of "wanting to be wanted." I resist some of her claims as to WHY women do this - from my point of view, she spends a little too much time blaming society, culture, men. I think the WHY is important to know, but I wanted to see the book focus a bit more on what women can DO about it. In general, the book more than serves its purpose to raise the issue and bring awareness to it. Overall, excellent, thought-provoking book.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By M. LaJoue on November 18, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I assign this book to students in my psychology seminar. These students at a women's college tell me that they find Women and Desire to be thought provoking, interesting, even helpful. I noticed a column in Newsweek by Anna Quindlen in October. She argued that women today still need the F word feminism because society hasn't changed as much as we like to tell ourselves. It appears that the need for books such as this one by Polly Young-Eisendrath continues to be valid.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Dr. N. Smith on April 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
PYE really misses the point. I was drawn into the book by her opening discussion of Lacan's comment - that women want to be wanted, not loved. While PYE has a number of extremely interesting observations, she is unable to spin that straw into gold. Her analyses lack depth and insight; her feminism is useless; and she refuses to acknowledge the root causes of women's (and people's, generally) difficulty knowing their own minds. As a woman and mother, how can PYE think that girls' and women's desire to be pleasing and pretty starts in adolescence? Hasn't she been paying attention? Can't she see that young girls - from birth - are pushed to be 'girly' and discouraged from showing anger or a will that deviates from their parents' expectations?

I am a daughter, and a woman, and a mother of a daughter, and a PhD, and I see the tremendous pressure that women put on themselves and on their daughters to conform. We all learn it as very small children, and for that reason, it is terribly hard for us to let go. And yes, pop culture only makes it worse, but the cultural indoctrination doesn't start there. It starts within us.

Furthermore, despite its title, this book treats 'desire' in only the most superficial way. If you seriously want to understand more about desire, read Jack Morin's great book on eroticism.
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