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The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much?

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  710 ratings  ·  196 reviews
Women are constantly being told that it's simply too difficult to balance work and family, so if they don't really "have to" work, it's better for their families if they stay home. Not only is this untrue, Leslie Bennetts says, but the arguments in favor of stay-at-home motherhood fail to consider the surprising benefits of work and the unexpected toll of giving it up. It' ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 4th 2008 by Hachette Books (first published March 27th 2007)
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Books Ring Mah Bell
Are we giving up too much? You bet your ass we are.
(only 90 pages in...)

This is not my review... the following is in response to a nasty message that was sent to me.
For the sender of the hate mail... you listen to Dr. Laura, don't you?
I love my child, but I disagree that everything I do should revolve around him. His well-being comes first, but let me tell you, I was a person with interests and hobbies before he came along and I will be that person when he grows up and leaves this home. You do r
...more
Books Ring Mah Bell
Sep 11, 2013 Books Ring Mah Bell rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: all women (and guys too!)
20 years ago, in a mouse infested, 1 bedroom apartment in a scary neighborhood, I sat across from my mom, watching her weep over the checkbook. Wiping the tears from her eyes, she told me, "Don't ever depend on a man to take care of you."
Recently divorced, she was struggling to put food on the table, a roof over our heads and hand me down clothes on my back.

Now here I am, a stay at home mom who depends on my husband financially. (Okay, I work maybe 30 hours a month. My son stays home with my hus
...more
Nicole
Jun 11, 2008 Nicole rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: every woman
When I first started reading this book I hated Ms. Bennetts and thought she was a smug self-righteous person (I just edited myself). I stopped reading and cursed her for hating stay at home mothers so much (full disclosure, I am a stay-at-home mother). But then I thought about it. Why had I reacted so strongly to this book and her ideas? Because on some level I knew she was right, or at least her points applied to me.

The basic thrust of the book is that women give up too much when they "choose"
...more
Arielle Pardes
Playing off of Betty Friedan's widely influential Feminine Mystique, Leslie Bennetts offers a compelling argument for working motherhood. Her argument is simple: women who forgo their careers in order to be mothers are making a big mistake. Citing economics as the crux of her point, The Feminine Mistake is chock-full of jarring statistics about the state of marriage, maternity, and the modern woman. Where the book goes awry, however, is in placing the blame on American women for opting-out of wo ...more
Jen
Jul 31, 2007 Jen rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All women
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a must-read for all women, especially those about to embark on a new career. Bennetts has performed extensive research with working women, stay-at-home mothers, sociologists, and lawyers to explore the economic effects of opting out of the workforce. Dependency is very risky and I think it's important for women to consider the whole picture before they give up their careers. Children don't need constant surveillance between birth and college. Mothers who stay home that whole time find it ...more
Heather
All women MUST read this book...Leslie Bennetts' "The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much?" To say it is life-altering is a huge understatement. In a nutshell, she tackles the premise that women who quit working because their husband will take care of them (with or without children) is a really stupid idea on oh-so-many levels...financially, emotionally, mentally. And that this causes an infantilizing situation in which the woman becomes like a child to her own spouse, and is typically d ...more
Lisa Mettauer
I have a bunch of complaints about The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much by Leslie Bennetts. But I’m still going to recommend it to every young woman or mother with daughters.

Bennetts, a journalist from NYC, writes about the recent trend of working women quitting their jobs to stay home to raise their children. Mostly well-educated and upperclass, these women devote themselves entirely to supporting their husbands in their lucrative careers and providing the best life for their kids. Y
...more
Shelah

Bennetts explores the reasons why upper-middle-class professional women shouldn't quit their day jobs to stay at home with their kids. She makes arguments for loss of earning power, loss of sharp brain function, loss of job skills, loss of independence, and age and gender discrimination.

Bennetts makes excellent points in her book, most convincingly the argument that giving up a career entirely limits women's economic freedom, putting her in "golden handcuffs" to her husband. And what if the man
...more
Elizabeth
Aug 05, 2007 Elizabeth rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all women...
Bennetts, the author of this fab book, makes an airtight case against not dropping out of the workforce entirely post-children. I first came across the book when I noticed one of the women in my Research Methods class with it. I picked it up and scanned it quickly. As a Confidence Coach who deals exclusively with women on all issues related to self-esteem, i.e. everything in their life as they know it, I often encounter women who apparently “have it all” but still feel an elusive sense of someth ...more
Allyson Schaeffer
every woman should read this book. scratch that -- every person should read this book. As one reviewee stated, Bennett makes an airtight case for why women (and their spouse) should consider the whole picture before opting out of the workforce when they decide to have children. Unlike some books, she doesn't simply state: you shouldn't stay home. period. I was impressed with the variety of interviews she performed and with her view that if one does stay home, male or female, make a solid financi ...more
Cara
Leslie Bennetts makes a very compelling argument against women giving up their careers to support their families, even if they are financially able to rely on their husband's income. What a woman gives up when she leaves the workforce, even temporarily, is much greater than just the lost income. I do have friends who are stay-at-home moms (though I do not personally expect to ever have that choice, much less actually make that decision), and I do support their choice to live their life as they c ...more
Corey
This is a tiresome book. One which, though written by a journalist of some acclaim, is woefully unbalanced. From it, we mothers are to learn that staying at home with children is simply not good enough, financially dangerous, and probably a waste of our talents.

While it is worthwhile to remember that happy endings don't always happen, I disagree that a penniless future awaits every single mother who chooses not to work.
Alisha
Five stars for the ways it changed my perspective, enlightened me to the possibilities in my life, and made me "smarten-up" a bit during this rough financial patch. Zero stars for her rants.

This is a book review that I want to discuss. I want to sit with friends and talk about this books. Present the info to them, get their input and responses. I think there is so much valuable information in this book that can be tempered and flexible to the betterment of women. I wonder what it would have been
...more
Lisa
To put it mildly, this is a divisive book - though I believe it should not be. Bennetts' thesis is that many women make the choice to stay home with children without adequately protecting their own, or their children's, financial future.

Stay-at-home moms are up in arms attacking it, and without reason (says I). Bennetts does not condemn the choice to stay home; she questions the wisdom of doing so without protecting oneself financially - e.g., keeping up with industry trends and maintaining rel
...more
Lacey Louwagie
I'm glad I read this book, but it will take more than a book review to encompass my thoughts on it (a long conversation with my mom, who was both a "stay-at-home mom" and a "working mom" at different points in our lives, some chats while walking the dog with my husband, and an ongoing series of booklikes blog entries have all helped).

In some ways, this is an updated version of The Feminine Mystique: a critique of women's continuing to make the choice to give up their own income to raise childre
...more
Kathryn
Jul 02, 2007 Kathryn rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone anticipating having children
Firstly, I will say that this is a truly thought provoking book. The crux of Bennett's book is concerned with the recent trend of highly educated women deferring (and perhaps unknowingly derailing) their careers to devote themselves full time to motherhood. She stridently argues that a woman's decision to place her entire financial future into the hands of her husband is a recipe for personal disaster, and interviews a host of women who can attest to the havoc the loss of a spouse's job, or the ...more
Christine
Sep 22, 2007 Christine rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women
Ahh where to begin:

I heard about this book from a married women's chat board type website. As a working woman who is pregnant and considering becoming a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) I figured this would be a good read.

The author makes several good points:
-A man is not a financial plan.
-Just because you can stay home doesn't mean you should.
-Women give up a lot of financial security to be able to stay home AND that is a stupid decision to make given that 50% of marriages end in divorce.
-It is harder
...more
Dehlia
Okay, I am not done yet and I will finish, but I don't think it is going to change my mind. The problem with this book is that the women who LOVE their jobs and would never leave them have incredibly cushy, glamorous, financially-rewarding careers. It is entirely unrealistic and reminds me of some high falutin' white upper class woman standing on a soapbox (non-toxic, water lily scented) preaching to her underlings and for that reason, isn't relevant enough for the majority of women battling a v ...more
Carrie Rose
This book is interesting and well-written. Leslie Bennetts made an effort to discuss a complicated issue in a nuanced way, but ultimately I think her own biases made this book too unpleasant for me to enjoy (if I had the same biases she has, I'm sure I would have loved it).

Bennetts is heavily influenced by her own experience, seeing men fail to fulfill their family obligations. She concluded from this (and from statistical evidence) that women can't count on their husbands, so the women must lim
...more
Michelle Szetela
I thought much of this book was truly excellent, timely, and well-written. Several chapters in, though, I noticed that many of the women Bennetts had talked to were of the Ivy League/east coast/wealthy variety, with the occasional hasn't-been-to-college/dropped out variety. In the middle are large swaths of women who have college degrees, and even graduate degrees, but didn't attend one of the Ivies, don't have MBAs or PhDs, who work in a plethora of other careers that were minimized or ignored. ...more
Linda
Some very valid points were made, albeit too repetitively, concerning the economic life choices women make. The reader must also wade through an inordinate amount of examples taken from the wealthy upper class, but ultimately the author asks the questions I was waiting for. Most importantly for me, how can we contribute to societal change that facilitates truly egalitarian partnerships in marriage?
Lindsay
I can't agree more with the premise of this book. The subject matter gets me so riled up that I had to read something else before I turned off the lights or else I would have never went to sleep. I see this happening all around me yet no one even bats an eye at it.

Rebecca
I'm not sure why, but this book took me forever to read. Drawing from personal experience, I find that today's ideal woman is not glorified for being a stay-at-home mom, but for being a type of superwoman who both works and performs domestic and child rearing tasks to her full potential. Of course, both portraits are still problematic.

Bennetts suggests we are "giving up too much" and forfeiting many benefits of self-sufficiency. Her arguments and supporting evidence in interviews with women fro
...more
Maria Ekpo
A delightful read. Bennetts dives into the big mistake that many intelligent, motivated women make.They choose to leave the work place and become economically dependent on their husbands. She uses real womens' stories and research to explain how perilous this decision can be from an emotional and financial standpoint. Once children are older and are more independent, these women often experience an identity crisis. They are also susceptible to the potential blow to their standard of living if th ...more
Hannah
Are you female? Then you need to read this book.

It will tell you many things you feel you already knew, but now you will really know why and you will wholeheartedly believe the things Bennetts is saying. Its irrefutable. And if, full of your knowledge, someone tries to argue with you all you need do is hand them a copy with this simple instruction: read it.

Bennetts does not attack stay-at-home mothers. This book isn't about that, and it certainly isn't a feminist tirade, full of preaching and b
...more
Ann
A very challenging read based on content for me. I enjoyed it and really learned a bunch from it. My only complaint was that most of the examples of women professionals who can "do it all" were writers of some sort and lawyers. That made it difficult for me to see where I would fit into the picture. However, I have lots of quotes from the book that I want to remember so I have included some here:

"...women often decide to give up their careers rationalizing the choice with the thought that they w
...more
Allison
There's no way in hell I won't always try to produce some sort of significant income. Even if/when we have kids, I plan to be a full-time working mom. Sometimes when I say this to people, I feel like I am being silently judged by those who think if I don't quit my job or at least work part-time then I'm slighting my kids somehow and am a terrible mother who doesn't care about them. So I started reading this book defensively, since this is somewhat of a defense of the working mother.

The author di
...more
Caroline
I really read this book as more of an a la carte menu than as an actual book.

The premise is this: working moms are better off than stay-at-home moms. As the progeny of both a stay-at-home mom, followed by a career mom, I agree with her, but I'm biased. Let's look at her arguments:

1. Working moms are better off economically. What if he leaves you? What if he drops dead of a heart attack at 45? What if, in something akin to Enron, his pension dries up? All of these are important things to consider
...more
Ashley
I LOVED this book! I think it should be mandatory reading for every teen girl, young woman, old lady, and enlightened husband.

Bennetts point is this: women are putting themselves in a precarious situation when they choose to stay at home. Putting all your eggs - your entire life - in the hands of another person (no matter if it's your husband) is not the wisest move one could make. The divorce rate is 50%, young seemingly healthy men die, accidents happen, people get sick, people lose their job
...more
Jessica
I really liked this book - it is very thought provoking. It helps to validate my current position and makes me feel better that I have no choice in working.

DISCLAIMER 1: This book does not really go into detail about the affect on the kids. There have been numerous studies on the impact of childcare or staying at home on kids - this isn't one of them. It is all about the mom. Supplement to this disclaimer is that the book does not take into account stay at home dads, which are increasing today.
...more
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MOTHERS Book Bag: Book Review: The Feminine Mistake 2 8 Oct 01, 2011 07:43AM  
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