Jennifer's Reviews > Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution

Of Woman Born by Adrienne Rich
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's review
Jun 26, 2008

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Read in June, 2008

This is a 2nd wave feminist standard, and it adds fuel to the argument that 3rd wave feminism hasn't added nearly as much to the dialoge as we young gals who don't listen to our elders might think.

The first few chapters focused on the inherently speculative history of ancient societies that might have been women- and specifically mother-centered. While that is interesting (even if it isn't true, it offers visions of ways of viewing motherhood that differ from the modern sentimental view), it wasn't really what I was after. However, later chapters went into the history of midwifery and obstetrics, and Rich discusses the ongoing struggle for male control over women's sexuality and motherhood. She also tells the story of her own experience as a mother, something she was deeply ambivalent about. Rich argues that the expectations put on mothers (which seem to have changed little since 1975, and now there's even less of a social safety net for moms) is crazy-making, and in fact devotes the final chapter to women who kill or fantasize about killing their children.

She also has a chapter each on women's relationships to their sons and daughters, and I was surprised by how little I related to the mother/daughter chapter.

I give it 3 stars because there were at least 3 chapters that were fine enough but not really what I was interested in reading, the rest of the book was very good.
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