Kate Lansky's Reviews > Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood

Misconceptions by Naomi Wolf
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's review
Apr 21, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: pregnancy
Read in April, 2010

When I picked up this book, I admit that I wasn't quite expecting what I got. I figured it would read kind of like Pushed - what I got was something else entirely. What I got was Naomi Wolf's personal experiences beautifully framing an anthropological look at birth in America through interviews with friends and other acquaintances.

Naomi is a bit of a poet, I think. She is a strong woman, a feminist, an artist. It was very easy to identify with her as a human being, to see in her a reflection of myself. It made reading her work a familiar thing, a deeply informative and personal act.

I think some people will be a bit resistant to a section on women and the loss of power in relationships with their partners after the birth of a child. I could feel her raw emotion as she was writing, the sense of societal and personal betrayal throughout. And though I could understand what she was saying and could identify with it completely - even without having kids - I don't know that everyone will react well to the emotion that is sunk into that section of the book.

Still - I found myself thinking "yes, this is how women feel - this is how I feel, just looking forward and knowing what pregnancy and childbirth will bring." It was so good reading a book that expressed the uncertainty, the deep self-examination of all the changes that take place, while still coming from such a strong woman. Our culture doesn't dwell on those changes. We as women are expected to be static creatures who work until we give birth, then come back a few weeks later completely unaffected by what has just occurred - and by that I don't mean just the birth of a child, but the changes that take place to our bodies, our minds, our souls over the course of pregnancy and what follows. We are changed, for better or for worse, and this is a secret often tucked away in our culture. The prevailing world view seems to be that we are not SUPPOSED to change. Naomi walks us through those changes, through the fear, and allows us to admit the truth of it.

I will say this. The book (and Naomi freely admits this herself) focuses on a very specific segment of the population. It focuses on middle class white women, usually working, and largely feminists. It is for this reason that I call the work an anthropological study, and I think that if it were labeled as such rather than as a book strictly for expectant mothers, it becomes an understandable level of focus. I would, however, suggest that you go into the reading with that knowledge.
Definitely a worthwhile read.
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