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The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much?

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3.75  ·  Rating details ·  853 ratings  ·  222 reviews
Author Leslie Bennett insists that in the so-called Mommy Wars, the first casualty is truth. The veteran Vanity Fair journalist argues that much of the apparently relentless campaign against working mothers ignores one of the issue's central components: economics. Her Feminine Mistake stakes out the dollars and cents case for married women participating in the workplace, a ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published April 3rd 2007 by Hyperion (first published January 1st 2007)
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3.75  · 
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 ·  853 ratings  ·  222 reviews


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Books Ring Mah Bell
Oct 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all moms
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
Aug 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 Johns
Jun 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Julie Ehlers
The publisher seems to have marketed The Feminine Mistake as a kind of self-help book for women, which does the book a disservice—it's actually a pretty detailed work of reporting, about a topic that shouldn't be controversial but somehow still is: that it's not a great idea for a woman to be completely financially dependent on a man. Among other things, this book is full of sobering stories of women who "stayed home" for years and were eventually blindsided by their husband losing his job, thei ...more
Heather
Aug 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Claudia Putnam
I'm late to the party with this... Finally got around to it... I guess I put it off figuring I'd disagree with it since I'm kind of a textbook case for the "mistake." Bennetts wrote the book after she read about a bunch of Ivy League Xers (I think, maybe they were early Millennials) who'd been interviewed somewhere and were saying they intended to stay home with their kids when they had them. She, like many first-wave feminists, was horrified and wanted to rebut. These young Yalies being the fir ...more
Gwen
Apr 25, 2017 rated it did not like it
I have never read such a sanctimonious piece of writing. This is everything that's wrong with Boomer feminism and the third wave in general. This snotty condescension is why people don't like feminists. Leslie Bennets is the absolute embodiment of our PR problem.

I listened to the audiobook, and at first I thought I might just be getting a biased read of it because the narrator was always reading the author as a sarcastic know-it-all and SAHMs as whiny, ignorant children. Then I realized the auth
...more
Jen
Jun 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Dawn
This book in turns annoyed me and then made complete sense.

It might seem odd that myself, as a single woman, with no children and a career would actually disagree with this premise. Though I know I'm entirely effected by my own childhood where I loved coming home to my Mom all the time. And I know she was much, much happier being home than working. Which is a demographic that does not get much room in this book.

I do understand though, that the toll it takes on a women with no financial securit
...more
Alisha
Nov 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011, self-education
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
Elizabeth
Aug 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Lisa Mettauer
Aug 10, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Sep 24, 2008 rated it liked it

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
Allyson Schaeffer
Aug 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Linda
Jun 08, 2011 rated it liked it
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?
Corey
Aug 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: didn-t-finish
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.
Melanie
Jan 02, 2019 rated it did not like it
The author is a talented writer, and some of her arguments seem legit. However, I don't think I've ever read anything so sanctimonious and condescending in my life. That, along with the fact that she has a job that allows her flexible hours and the ability to work from home, makes it hard to take her points seriously.
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
Dehlia
Jul 11, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: momma
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
Christine
Sep 05, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Kathryn
May 08, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Lisa
May 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Cara
Nov 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Michelle Vandepol
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Empowering, frank, and common sense book with regard to career planning for women and their families. Having a career to rejoin, even if taking off some time to raise children, requires forethought. Fascinating and well-researched, Bennetts shares the stories we know all too well, but don't usually discuss. (women who opt out of career and then are blindsided by death, divorce, or life altering injury of the breadwinning spouse) I love the intersection of long and happy stable marriages, partner ...more
Lindsay
Oct 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.

Katelyn Joy
Feb 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book's overall message is wonderful, but it starts to feel like there is a mandated length about 3/4 through. She has a lot of good interviews and research pieces to support her points, but it gets redundant. Still - worth a read for women!
Leila Runyan
Jul 20, 2010 rated it liked it
The points were good. However, I found the message to be redundant.
Michele Minor
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is a must read for young men and women who are looking at getting married and having children. The author takes a hard look at the reality of staying home with the kids and the negative consequences to the parent staying at home. She goes over the positive effect that having both parents working can have on children. She takes the emotion out of it and looks at the cold hard facts based on her personal experience with her grandmother and mother. She dispels the myth that a man is a pla ...more
Ashley
Nov 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All women
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
Margaret
Apr 13, 2019 rated it liked it
I read this book as I was preparing to return to work. My mother and grandmothers all were stay at home moms, and I wanted to hear a different school of thought regarding the benefits of being a career mom. This book did that, and made me so thankful and encouraged in my decision to return to work.

It made some great points, although I did not agree with everything. She believes that being a stay at home mom is the wrong decision for everyone, and I do not agree with that. I also believe that th
...more
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MOTHERS Book Bag: Book Review: The Feminine Mistake 2 9 Oct 01, 2011 07:43AM  

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