- Paperback: 222 pages
- Publisher: Routledge (April 28, 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0415906784
- ISBN-13: 978-0415906784
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,002,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Unwomanly Conduct: The Challenges of Intentional Childlessness
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From Library Journal
Morell (social work, Cornell Univ.) takes as her subjects 34 middle-aged, married women who (like herself) are not mothers and places their stories outside conventional scholarship, which defines such women as deficient. Finding that even feminist writing frequently identifies women and motherhood, she points to the creative alternatives pursued by these married "not-mothers," debunks prevalent myths about those who choose to remain childless, and argues convincingly that our society's persistent pronatalism ultimately disadvantages all women. This narrowly focused work says little about the decision of single women to bear children, but Morell's analysis of our culture's relentless glorification of maternalism and her data regarding poor and minority women suggest new dimensions for the study of issues surrounding illegitimacy as well. Highly recommended.
Beverly Miller, Boise State Univ. Lib., Id.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
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I found that this book gave me both, I identified with the woman interviewed and it gave me the confidence to accept my decision about remaining childless for now. After reading the book I was able to more easily identify what it was that made me afraid to not be a mother and more clearly think about that decision.
The research is well conducted, her sample is adequate, this reads more like a thesis than a self-help book and has a lot of interesting research cited. Even if you have made your decision to have children or be child-free the research presented in this book will make an interesting read.
The title of Carolyn M. Morell's book sums it up perfectly: "Unwomanly Conduct -- The Challenges of Intentional Childlessness." Society is full of pressures to reproduce and the women who go against this norm run the risk of being accused of selfishness, pitied as incomplete or having their achievements dismissed as compensation for the absence of a child.
Having encountered this kind of prejudice repeatedly, it was refreshing to read excerpts from Morell's interviews with some 40 women, mostly in their mid-40s, who have chosen to remain childfree. Actually, Morell scrupulously uses the term "childless", having dismissed "childfree" because she says it implies that a woman wants to get rid of children. I personally prefer to describe myself as "childfree" because of what I consider to be its more positive connotation.
Our differing opinons on symantics was the only part of Morell's book that I could not relate to. It was comforting to learn that many of the women profiled within have undergone the same prejudices, assumptions and dismissals heaped upon them by society at large, felt the same barriers in their relationships with mothering women -- and shared the same belief that their choice was and is a valid one.
Published in 1994, Morell's book is a groundbreaking one. Moreover, it is an affirmation for the childfree woman. Morell, herself a childfree woman, even admits that she set out to write a book that she could read. I recommend this book to any woman who wants reassurance that her decision not to bear children is a valid one.