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A Few Good Points Buried in a Marriage/Baby Obsession
on December 23, 2002
Yes, some things are best pursued during young adulthood - college education, career building, baby-making. Hewlett's research makes that point, and it alone is worth two stars. But from this, she makes at least two faulty conclusions: (1) Her high-achieving childless female subjects were too stupid to figure this out until they hit 40. (2) Since men can "have it all", women are entitled to the same. Obviously, our options will diminish over time. And it follows that no one - male or female - can have everything, regardless of how someone's life might look on the surface. Life involves trade-offs.
In this book, Hewlett responds to her interviewees as objects of pity rather than recipients of immense blessing. To have health, freedom, and success is far more than most people have in this world - especially women - and is certainly nothing to snivel about. Hewlett's own story in the Preface about her obessession with bearing a FOURTH child after age 45 along with other stories of the huge self-indulgent waste of time and money on ineffective infertility treatments was enough to make me want to close this book many times while reading it. Can't these women find more important things to worry about? The adage "Count your blessings before you count your troubles" apparently never occurred to anyone in the small, yet largely biased sample of workaholic women.
Also she makes a rather naive - if not irritating - criticism about people being single because they are "unprepared to make the sacrifices necessary to share a life with someone else." Hewlett has been married for over two decades, through life in the '80s and '90s. How current is her knowledge of what those "sacrifices" might be? For example, is she aware that heterosexual women are the fastest growing HIV/AIDS population, yet most those women are/were married?