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Flux: Women on Sex, Work, Love, Kids & Life in a Half-Changed World

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  672 Ratings  ·  96 Reviews
At thirty-four, Peggy Orenstein faced a series of dilemmas: She was unsure whether she wanted children, unsure about the impact of motherhood on her career, her relationship, and her sense of self. Why, when women seemed to have so many choices, did she suddenly feel that she had none? After feminist liberation and its subsequent backlash, she realized that women's lives, ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 16th 2000 by Doubleday Books (first published 2000)
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Dec 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book about women in post-feminist America. The author did lots of really great interviews with women at all stages of their lives and gains a lot of insight into how the work-family balance is playing out for them. I found myself sympathizing with so many of the stories, goals, and challenges, and I feel I learned a lot just hearing about their experiences. Really fascinating to see what sort of trade-offs each woman decided to make along the course of their careers. I highly recommend ...more
Jul 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: young women having a quarter-life crisis, women struggling with work-life balance
When I first read this book in 2005, it was a complete lifesaver. I was in my early/mid 20s, living in NYC, struggling with trying to figure out the next step in my career, while balancing hopes and dreams of finding a partner and starting a family, all of which seemed so far out of my reach in that crazy city. In short, I was having my quarter-life crisis. I fell in love with this book because it discussed all of the things the people (really, the women) I knew weren't discussing -- how to bala ...more
Mar 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Its really rare for me to wish that I had read a book earlier, but this is one of those. Ms Orenstein does an excellent job of capturing thoughts and expectations of women in 20s, 30s, and 40s, with and without (or wanting or not wanting) children, in the professional workplace (or reasons for leaving it) and organizing them into a set of coherent narratives interspersed with relevant statistical facts that clearly delineate the trade offs each decade is facing. I learned a lot from this bo ...more
Melainia Mcclain
Mar 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A survey of a small number of hand picked highly educated and ambitious women of 3 different age groups (and of 3 different life stages according to the author) who desire or desired a career track in male dominated fields, this book was informative in the way case studies can be. It highlights some potential struggles, pitfalls, and contradictions in a woman's pursuit of a balanced life in a half changed world. It brings some often unconscious but deeply seeded beliefs about gender roles and so ...more
Nov 25, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: women, mothers, fathers
Shelves: women
Interesting book, but dealing mostly with the question "Can women 'do it all'?" (i.e. have a great career AND have children), I felt it didn't apply to me. And since when is choosing between family and work strictly a woman's problem? Many men wish they could spend more time with their families but buy into the 'man as breadwinner' stereotype that keeps them working long hours in thankless jobs just to make sure their families are kept fed, housed, and healthy.

The book looks at different women
Overall, I don't particularly relate to a lot of these women on a micro level, but I relate to the questions and challenges they face in general. I would like to see an update of this book, perhaps looking at how these women are 13 years later. I also would like to have heard less from women executives that are financially killing it, and more from 'regular' women. Not every woman who feels she has tough choices has astronomical aspirations.

Not well reflected are families where neither mom nor
Jen Quintanilla
I feel conflicted. On the one hand this book gave me a lot of think about and reflected issues I am currently wrestling with. I think the question of women's changing roles is an important one and the book really covered a good range of women and life choices. However, I also feel like much of Orenstein's biases and judgment came across at certain points. On top of that, some of her conclusions (or maybe observations is a better word?) seemed simplistic and possibly predetermined by her own feel ...more
Dec 20, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I dunno. A lot of my friends really loved this book, which is why I decided to read it. But it just didn't do it for me. I thought it was overly simplistic. I didnt' like that there weren't any interviewees who were just plain happy with their lives--surely, there must be some women out there who don't feel that they have had to wade through life, constantly struggling and somewhat disappointed with their choices? I suppose that's not the issue--we all struggle with SOMEthing--but these women ju ...more
Emily Dahl
Jul 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Emily by: Sarah Cady
Shelves: nonfiction, wost
A coworker suggested I read this one. After lending her The Meaning of Wife, she was shocked to learn that I hadn't read this one. I wasn't too keen to read it, not that I was opposed, I just thought that I'd read it already-- what could possibly be new? However, I was pleasantly surprised. I appreciated the first person perspective that Orenstein supplied through the direct quotes from her interview subjects. The topics covered, love/sex/work/kids/life, resonated with me and I appreciated that ...more
By 2012 this book was pretty dated. I enjoyed reading it, but I felt like I would like some follow up on whether after the economic downturn, there was any difference of feeling. Also I think that she didn't really get to understand and research the true feelings of men for the book. I think Men have much more of a facade about work and being in the workplace than women do, and so when women have feeling of self-doubt - they think it is a fault of theirs and that they are the only ones that feel ...more
Feb 29, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
definitely worthwhile reading, as it provides a “normalizing” context for my own confusion and frustration with what I am and am not able to affect in my life however, the book reads as if it is (and I think this is accurate) a project that the author put together for her own benefit, and so it seems a little biased – it covers a pretty narrow age range and by the end it feels like what happens when a nice but overbearing person has trapped you in a corner at a party – you don’t disagree necessa ...more
Sep 23, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book really freaked me out. It really made me think about things that have been rattling around in my brain for quite awhile, but that I hadn't really faced yet. The book was thought-provoking, but I wouldn't categorize it as an accurate study of women in their 20s, 30s, or 40s. All of the women interviewed seemed to be white, affluent, and working in the corporate world. There was no representation of different ethnicities or sexualities. The book almost seemed more about the author's ques ...more
Mar 24, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am so tired of these books... and yet I keep reading them. An incomplete analysis of the status of women today, focused largely on "powerful" women. It's not that it doesn't talk about relevant issues, because it does, making some good points along the way. It is just that the whole thing does not even question whether or not we--as women or men--should all be wanting to have "powerful" positions. It does not offer anything revolutionary about our options. If I were you, I wouldn't spend the t ...more
Apr 08, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
In general, I felt disappointed by the interviews and general commentary that the author chose to include in the book. It seemed as though the author assumed that all women want to have the "Dream" - a husband, kids, and a fulfilling career either inside or outside the home. The author then included stories and interviews that focused more on this "Dream" particularly when interviewing women in their 20's and 30's. Overall, I didn't feel as though it was a balanced view of women and their goals.
Feb 28, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The second half of this book went by much faster than the first, perhaps because I could relate/identify more with the women that decided to have children. I thought this book was a little misleading-it contained way more of the author's personal agenda than I had anticipated. The "Afterword" chapter was my favorite, and summed things up nicely. Also, the book is in need of an update-most of the research cited/interviews were from the 90s.
Aug 06, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
So I wanted to like this book. I was looking for perspective on work life balance for women. But I couldn't get through it. The stories were not too compelling and I felt like I was just hearing everything I already knew about how difficult work life balance is. Perhaps I'm more disappointed in the conclusions than the actual book....
Sep 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-it
very engaging.
Vianna  Tedder
Feb 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Four days later and I'm still ruminating over some of the lessons that I learned from this book. I think that's telling about its quality. The author, Peggy Orenstein interviews many women in their twenties, thirties, and forties to discover how women handle careers, families, and that ever elusive "balance" between the two. Orenstein wanted to know what decisions these women had made (or were in the process of making) and why they had made them. While she does talk a little about sex, it's real ...more
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Nov 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read this book after I had just graduated from law school. I was single and fairly certain that I never wanted to have children. As the book looks at professional women and their choices involving raising families, I felt like it reinforced my belief that it is impossible to have it all, and that having children would only derail what I hoped would be a focused and successful legal career. Years later, the book was still on my shelves. But, this time around, I'd been praticing law for al ...more
Mary Jo
Oct 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the best nonfiction book I read in 2011. It’s over 10 years old, but sadly, the world hasn’t changed that much in 10 years to make it irrelevant. In fact, it seemed more relevant than ever, since some big news stories this year have been about “The End of Men” and women surpassing men in numbers graduating from college and graduate school. The books is also about things that I’m very concerned with in my life now: how women make the decisions in their lives about careers, marriage and c ...more
Apr 23, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this very non-scientific social science book, Orenstein interviews women in various life stages about relationships, children, careers, and the uneasy intersections among them.

The first section, about early 20s, seemed very dated to me. It seemed like the kind of thing I read around the time I graduated from college. I thought it was kind of terrible and almost stopped reading.

But I think the issue was that it just wasn't relevant to my life. When it got to women in their 30s, I found the in
Aug 21, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: female professionals and the people who manage them.
This book attempts to answer the question "Can I have it all?" by following professional women at different stages of their lives and careers (20s, 30s, 40s, 50s). Unfortunately, it is not a longitudinal study and there is only anectdotal information, but there are some interesting anectdotes. Few women seem to succesfully "have it all" (both career and family) and those that do seem to make substantial compromises along the way; however most seem relatively comfortable with their choices.

I fou
Aug 13, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this is a great book for any woman who is introspective about what she wants from her life (frankly, I don't know one woman who doesn't). orstein interviews women from their 20's-40's about their experiences of making decisions in what she calls 'a half changed world'. at times, the book be annnoying in that the women in their 20's are a bit obnoxious in their contradictions and then the seemingly 'you can never really have it all' conundrum highlighted in the stories of women in their 30's... h ...more
Susan Bazzett-Griffith
Peggy Orenstein's Flux is another great overview of the state of womanhood in America, and how women are impacted by our society's warped expectations of "having it all" in a society that doesn't support them in doing so. Orenstein speaks to women in various phases of life about the choice of staying single vs. traditional marriage in order to climb their career ladders, about remaining child-free versus having children, about developing their own definitions of success and about redefining gend ...more
Oct 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read Orenstein's Flux in a time of Flux! I had two children under the age of three and I thought I was never going to have control over anything again. (this remains true). I had left the workforce, an was fortunate to be part of a stable marriage, had good savings to rely upon, my education was completed and the financial picture above average. On top of it, i had a strong network of friends with children who were active and engaged in community and events. At the time, the book was reassurin ...more
Mar 01, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all women over 20
Through a series of interviews, Peggy Orenstein examines what it means to be a woman cutting your own way (ie - between the ages of 20 and 40) in a "half-changed" world. The feminists of the 70s paved the way for the modern woman to "have it all;" but can we? How do we balance relationships and family with our desire to have a career and our own interests outside the home? Why is it that so few women in position of power have children, or even a man in her life? Is it not what she wanted, or did ...more
Jul 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book to be comforting, inspiring, and thought-provoking. So many of the sections and stories felt personally relevant. I read this along with one of my girlfriends, and probably stuck a post-it flag on about every other page, marking statements or passages that really resonated with me that I wanted to remember to discuss.

I think this is such an empowering and enlightening book for women, and I'd venture to say that husbands and fathers might gain some helpful insights from it as we
Mar 14, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a well-researched book that I found interestingly current despite the fact that it's ten years old. That said, though, both the theme of the book and the writing itself seemed kind of old-hat - ie that women have really similar problems that stretch through multiple generations. Nice that Orenstein gives examples of kind of 'alternative' lifestyles and further delves into how they might not be that alternative anyway. I think it could have stated the same information in a much shorter b ...more
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Eclectic Readers: Flux 1 6 May 08, 2012 07:13PM  
  • The Meaning of Wife: A Provocative Look at Women and Marriage in the Twenty-First Century
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  • The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined All Women
  • Altared: Bridezillas, Bewilderment, Big Love, Breakups, and What Women Really Think About Contemporary Weddings
  • Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety
  • Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood
  • Opting In: Having a Child Without Losing Yourself
  • Voices of Freedom: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement from the 1950s through the 1980s
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  • Abortion & Life
  • I Do But I Don't: Why the Way We Marry Matters
  • One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding
  • Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution
Peggy Orenstein is a best-selling author and a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine. Orenstein has also written for such publications as The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Vogue, Elle, Discover, More, Mother Jones, Salon, O: The Oprah Magazine, and The New Yorker, and has contributed commentaries to NPR’s All Things Considered. Her articles have been anthologized multiple times, incl ...more
More about Peggy Orenstein

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“Maybe it was just one of those days when you hear an old question a new way, that quite suddenly shifts your perspective.” 2 likes
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