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Customer Review

214 of 238 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful book and an engaging read, February 6, 2007
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This review is from: I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame (Hardcover)
To be perfectly upfront, I would like to acknowledge that I am a friend and colleague of the author, Brené Brown. But also to be perfectly upfront, I would really appreciate her book even if I was not.

This book is powerful in its scope and impact as it lays out what shame is, how women respond to shame, and how women can respond differently to shame in order to become shame resilient.

Brené helps women identify what their shame triggers are, how to develop a critical awareness about how shame is impacted by larger forces in our lives, such as media images of extremely thin and beautiful women, how women can reach out to others, and how to learn to "speak shame."

As Brené was writing the book and I was reading early drafts, I was already learning to apply her concepts to my life. For instance, previously when I experienced a shameful moment I would curl up in a little ball of pain, constantly replay the shamming incident in my head, castigate myself over and over, and then wait for the passage of time to relieve some of my symptoms, although even years later I could get flashbacks of the event and the accompanying pain. Today, due to Brené and her book, I react very differently. I call multiple friends and share my painful story and seek out comfort, caring, and empathy. I begin to "contexualize" the shameful event, that is, I see how political, economic, and social forces have shaped my personal experiences. For instance, that expectation that women must be "superwoman" juggling kids, work, partners" perfectly, which is an unreasonable expectation that no woman can live up to. That helps put my experience into context and allow me to see the broader picture.

This book is a gift to women from a committed scholar and researcher. Although the hype on many books is that "it will change your life," this book has that potential. And it doesn't hurt that it is written in an accessible, friendly tone with many stories to illustrate her ideas that will make you both laugh and cry.

I highly recommend the book. I predict it will be one of those books you read and then go out and buy for your mother and sisters and best friend. I know I did.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 20, 2010 12:30:45 PM PDT
TinaCFLE says:
Thank you for such a touching, informative, and well-written review.

Posted on Jan 28, 2014 3:08:00 AM PST
DeepReader says:
Does she investigate how feminism has created the myth of the Superwoman and shamed us all into thinking that we not only can 'do it all, have it all' but there's something wrong with us if we DON'T 'do it all, have it all'? I find that the only way to be comfortable with who I am and what I have achieved, with what I truly enjoy and with being 'where I bloom' personally is to avoid feminism at all costs.

Feminism told me I had to be ambitious and climb up the ladder - get higher and higher degrees; reach higher and higher levels in my profession. But being true to myself tells me that I am really, REALLY good and successful at what I do, and that climbing 'higher' would give me less time and less ability to focus on what I'm best at. (I tried it, at the urging of my female boss and female colleagues and friends, and was miserable, trying to do so much to 'advance my career' that I was doing poorly what I'm really good at and enjoying nothing that makes life enjoyable.)

Feminism tells my dear friend that 'with your education and skills you should be/could be making so much money' when she is utterly fulfilled and blissfully happy being a stay-at-home mother to four kids.

It's only my anecdotal experience (in later middle-age) that my female friends and colleagues (I am a working, single woman) seem to find balance and self-acceptance in their lives to the degree they eschew the feminist myth of 'doing it all, having it all, making money and being just like the men'. To the degree that they think there's something wrong with them (shame) if they aren't career-oriented, career-ambitious and earning plenty of money, they are conflicted, bitter and quite often very easily 'wounded' by any kind of failure or suggestion that they are not 'doing it all' or that they aren't 'doing it all' to Superwoman levels. My most prickly and insecure colleagues - despite advanced degrees and acknowledged great skills in their fields - are the most outspokenly feminist ones. They seem to have no peace, no sense that they do or ARE 'enough.'

So again, to what degree does she place this shame on the feminist ideal of the 1960s/1970s (the 'En jolie' advertisement years)? Did women suffer from this kind of shame before that revolution? My mother's generation and grandmother and great-aunts (born in the early 1900s-1930s) seemed to have a kind of natural dignity in being women, as though 'just being a woman' and 'by virtue of being a woman' they were special and valuable. They didn't need to 'do it all' - in fact, having others 'do some of it for them' was a sign of their special, valuable status in society - that includes the one who became a full-time mother; the one who was a working mother/wife with one child and the one who never had children and always had some kind of job and her own money, both when she was married and when she was not married.

I'd like to see an honest assessment of where feminism has let women down and where the feminist agenda is placing huge burdens of shame on our daughters because they are constantly being told that they can 'do it all, have it all' and that there's something wrong with them if they don't WANT to do it all and have it all.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 29, 2015 7:39:09 AM PDT
M. Barton says:
Thank you for your post, I can't tell you how much it helped me. I was reading the reviews about this book, thinking, gee, I don't have shame...then I read your comment. Talk about being so steeped in a lifetime of feeling like a failure because I never even tried to have it all, crippled by feelings of not being enough: pretty enough, smart enough, clever, talented, you name it. The feminist movement came along while I was in college and without a doubt contributed to my sense of over all "not good enough" feelings that have shackled me. I am rambling here, but thank you for your helpful post.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 29, 2015 9:32:09 AM PDT
TinaCFLE says:
And Thank YOU for your thoughtful response and alerting me to this insightful and thought-provoking comment.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 23, 2015 10:35:36 AM PDT
That is 'old-school' feminism of which you speak. That kind of feminism has given all feminism and feminists a bad name. It did force us to redefine feminism, to learn to celebrate ourselves and one another as being valid and valuable even when our life choices and goals were vastly different. Today's feminism is about empowerment of the individual and about having choices -- if one wants to and can afford to be a stay-at-home mom, that's OK; if one wants to have a career and not a family, that's OK; if one wants to have a career AND a family, that's OK; if one wants to remain single and devote her life to academia, that's also OK. The point is, with modern feminism, that a women is free to choose her life path, free to determine her own goals, free to pursue whatever makes her fulfilled and happy. Modern feminism celebrates the "natural dignity in being women" and that each woman is "special and valuable" (quoting from the 5th paragraph of your comment). Hopefully, instead of turning our backs on feminism as if it were a dirty word, we can teach our daughters a new definition of the word and instead of letting outdated ideas and ideals enslave them, we let new ideas/ideals evolve and set them free.
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