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Old World Daughter, New World Mother: An Education in Love and Freedom Hardcover – April 13, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
The theme of Laurino's book seems to relate to the contradictions of the promise of feminism. For instance, Jeane Kirkpatrick - Laurino's college mentor - becomes a UN Ambassador in the Reagan administration. Though she's the first female to hold an international position in the president's cabinet, Kirkpatrick was not recognized as a feminist.
Laurino defends the speech New York Times writer Joyce Purnick made at the Barnard College commencement. Purnick acknowledged that she could not have achieved her successes if she had a child. According to Laurino, the Barnard women were furious.
Laurino points out that Purnick was telling the truth, but she goes on to blame the United States failure to accommodate female biology. Other countries, she points out, give new mothers considerably more time off.
She describes a particularly horrific experience, involving women doctors and a midwife. When she started crying after being advised to have no more children, the female doctor directs her to, "Emote later."
"Emote later?" Laurino asks. "For this I had chosen a feminist practice and its band of caring midwives?" I don't understand why Laurino didn't write a complaint to the head of her managed care group, the hospital board and, if necessary, the state medical boards.Read more ›
Laurino has a larger point, however, and one with which I strongly agree. She sees Italian-American culture as signifying the "caring" point of view that regards inter-dependency and nurturing at the basis of human development. Americans, and particularly our generation of feminists, thought that work should be at the center of women's lives. Laurino's point, learned as she reconciled her American values with the culture of her grandparents, is that autonomy is not the road to fulfillment. The fruit does not fall far from the tree because the tree and fruit are connected. A forward-thinking feminism, Laurino suggests, would find life-style solutions that would permit women (and men) to work while at the same time recognizing that family, and personal connections, are essential for the health of all.Read more ›
Laurino mixes social criticism, activism, wry humor, intellectual insight, and paesano playfulness to create a product unlike anything I've seen in a long time. She starts with a memoir of Italian-American family life. Her ancestors were working people, close to the land and tied to family alliances running generations deep. But American-born Laurino wanted the feminist promise of finding herself outside the home, so she hustled off to college, a journalism career, and a stint as a staffer in municipal New York politics.
Many feminist tracts start with massive declarations about what it is to be a woman, and turn from there to the specific. Most feminists treat the old and the young, the black and the white, the American and the international as identical women everywhere. Not so Laurino. She starts with a specific woman, herself, and uses her own hard-won experience to say what it is like to be a specific kind of woman.
Due to that outlook, and reliance on her Italian heritage, Laurino creates a feminism that accepts domesticity and nurturance. Her feminism lets women be individuals, because she doesn't tell women what they need, allowing them to make that choice themselves. Her feminism is humane and supportive, recognizing that women deserve fulfillment, which she concedes may come from adopting certain traditional feminine roles.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is more about feminism than the tensions between old world customs and acculturation.Published 14 months ago by V. N. Holmes
It amazes me that a woman in her mid fifties could have published 2 books about herself. Connections perhaps? Read morePublished on September 29, 2009 by William H. Ursillo
Maria Laurino's book is part memoirs and part analysis of feminism in practice.
The book begins with stories of her Italian American grandparents and the lives that they... Read more