Books Ring Mah Bell's Reviews > The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much?

The Feminine Mistake by Leslie Bennetts
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's review
Oct 15, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: womens-interest, mom-stuff
Recommended for: all moms
Read in August, 2008

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 realize that the child isn't yours to "keep"? I think it's dangerous for a woman to attach her sense of self completely to her child.
For your information, I am not a "high power corporate robot" who "ditches" her kids in day care to go to work. Nice assumption, though.
For your information, I am a stay at home mom. Pretty much. I work maybe 4 days a month, always on a weekend, (go ahead send the mail about not keeping the sabbath holy) so my son can be with his dad while I work. I might bring in about $10,000 a year to our home. That's a quarter of what I made prior to having kids. I will not get a pension, 401k, insurance, vacation time... It is a sacrifice I make to be home with my son, until he goes to school. There are pros and cons to this, my brain feels like mush most days from singing childrens songs, I don't enjoy "domestic" tasks like decorating and cleaning. I don't mind having dinner ready for my husband, but some nights, I don't want to cook. Washing out my toddler's shit streaked underwear does not fill me with a sense of a job well done. I feel guilty when I want to buy something for me, it's my husband's money, right? I do not feel appreciated for this work and my son may never fully understand the sacrifices we made so I can be home with him. However, he just turned three and knows the alphabet, upper and lower case letters, can count to 20, can read over 2 dozen sight words. I don't have to worry about some idiot in a day care center leaving him in a car to bake, or abusing him. Then I'd be in jail for murder, and what kind of mommy would I be then?
It irks me that one can pass such harsh judgement without fully knowing the situation.
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Comments (showing 1-50 of 54) (54 new)

Books Ring Mah Bell Thank you, Ginnie. I really do struggle with not bringing in more money. I am certain if I did not have my (very) part time job, I'd be a brain dead mess.

message 2: by Michelle (new)

Michelle BRMB, even if that is not your official review, you should leave it up there for all to read.

You are a good mom, and a good person. Don't ever forget that.

message 3: by RandomAnthony (last edited Jul 30, 2008 07:27AM) (new)

RandomAnthony Who in goddamn hell would bother writing you a message like that and why? You don't have to defend yourself to those psychos. Fuck 'em.

By the way, my wife is going back to work 60% this year, after working less the last couple years...and she's damn excited. She needs to work, too, or she'd lose her mind and she wouldn't be as good of a mom. So fuck you, whoever's picking on BRMB.

message 4: by Michelle (new)

Michelle What RA said.

Books Ring Mah Bell Thanks. I am not going to block the bonehead because I want to see if she responds. I also think she will take issue with me working on Sundays, and I'd like to have that conversation too.

I have a feeling she's one of the "robot mommies" who claims to "LOVE!!!" being an at home mom, who is zoned out on Xanax, Paxil and a 5th of gin to make it thru the Gymboree classes and soccer games. I am certain she only gives head to her husband when she wants a new piece of jewelry. She pays someone to clean her home while she's at Starbucks with her friends.

Oh, did I just pass judgement?

Silly me.

message 6: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony Wait...I'm supposed to get head when I haven't given jewelry?

kidding, kidding, kidding...

message 8: by Jessica (new)

Jessica I think one of the reasons I remain addicted to this site is because of the way it continually annihilates then redeems my faith in humanity.

message 9: by Jason (new)

Jason I recall when I was about 21, 22--I'd just dropped out of life-plan A, and was busy plotting life-plan B, and my mom was giving me endless grief, for weeks. Things finally came to a head, and we had a blowup, and she derided my immaturity, and I said something insensitive that made her cry, whereupon I felt like a shit, whereupon we had the very first real adult conversation of our lives, and she told me how much she resented *and* gloried in the fact that I could be so cavalier in changing my life. She talked about wanting to stay home with us kids (I arrived when she was 20--good lord) but hating that she left the possibility of college 'til much later in her life. What she wanted to do, but it still didn't feel like a choice to her. And rarely did, from thereon out. Even when she consciously said "I'm going to do this because it matters to me and my family," she still felt like the "me" and the "family" were not really equivalent, certainly not given equal weight. She's an amazing person, and did her best to define her own sense of her life against and through the deep swamps of social bullshit. But every now and then, you look around and see you're in the swamp. Or some swampdweller flings some of that shit your way.

My mom helped me see and navigate through that swamp. As I told her, I'd never have thought about choices, and about the social factors which seek to (and do) limit those choices, without her guidance. No small feat, on top of dealing with it herself. It's pretty damn clear, even at this virtual distance, how damn good you are at pathbreaking yourself. As all have said, fuck the swampdwellers, happy to wallow in the muck, complacently, self-righteously certain that their small little patch of sod and shit is the best and only place one ought to live. They may be neck-deep, but you're skating sleekly above 'em.

Your son is, like this one, terribly lucky.

message 10: by Amanda (last edited Jul 30, 2008 08:06AM) (new)

Amanda Mike, if you ever make me cry again, I'll kick you in the balls.

(That said, Well Posted!)

message 11: by Jason (new)

Jason Mom?

message 12: by Michelle (last edited Jul 30, 2008 08:06AM) (new)

Michelle RE Message 10: Ain't it the truth...

Mike: You rock.

message 13: by Amanda (new)

Amanda smartass.

message 14: by Meen (new) - added it

Meen OK, I'm totally confused about why someone would send you hate mail... Was it just because they saw you were currently reading this book? Is it someone on your friends list? I tried to keep an intolerant friend on my list despite his continued homopobic and misogynistic tirades in the name of not shutting him off and justifying (in his mind) his bigotry, but eventually it just got too virulent, and some people have so much invested in their gender-rigid identities (usually religiously based, yes) to even bother with. But definitely leave the conversation up b/c it points the way for others who aren't so psychologically constricted.

And thanks to RA and Mike for making me LOL (a LOT) this morning!

As for the social swamp, what annoys me so much about SAHM (gawd, I LOATHE using an acronym for it, that's how much of a commodity it's become), is that underlying all of this is the assumption that it should be the woman who does the staying at home. And that instead of finding social solutions (like flex-time jobs for women and men, at-work daycare, requiring daycare workers to be educated and paying them more than they can make flipping burgers, AND socializing males to be caretakers) to the "problem" of women working and having children, the onus is on the individual mother to balance and to sacrifice. And the underlying "moral" message to non-SAHMs is that you are somehow a bad person, selfish, damaging your "oh SO precious" child. F*ck that!

Books Ring Mah Bell I was confused too, Mindy. I had no previous contact with this person. I think she must be checking on what kind of "immoral assholes" are reading this... and then sends them a nice hate mail. Let me go dig it up and copy it for all to see...

Thank you again. All of you.

Mike, I hope my son feels that way someday, and takes me out for the occasional dinner when I am broke and living off ketchup packets because I stayed home with him for a few years.

Books Ring Mah Bell Here it is... typos and all...

I see your one of those 'feminists' who thinks it's okay to ditch your kid at a day care while you work, likely, as a high power corporate robot. Youre children should be everything in your life, that is your job as a woman. You women must not trust your man enough to take care of you, or you would not have to go to work. Your missing out on the best times with your children, paying someone else to watch them grow and teach them. You should think about staying at home like a real woman.

HOLY BALLS. re-reading that pisses me off. I didn't even address her f-ing with my husband! Look here, twat! I DO trust my husband, he's my best friend who lets me stay home. He does the dishes and laundry if I didn't get to it. He busts his ass at work so I can take care of my son. Point is, if he leaves me (it happens) drops dead or becomes crippled, I am not financially secure as I would be if I worked full time.
Piss off, TWAT! Don't EVER mess with my husband! EVER!
While you piss off, look up the difference between your and you're.


message 17: by RandomAnthony (last edited Jul 30, 2008 12:17PM) (new)

RandomAnthony Wow. That's bonkers. It was written by a guy, eh? I'm assuming it's a man because of the "You women" part. Fuck him.

If you are male, send me a message, tough guy. Pretty convenient hiding behind GR and sending messages to young moms, eh? Wuss. Loser. You've got no balls.

If you're a woman (or a man, for that matter), I'm sure BRMB could take you verbally in about ten seconds. You're warned.

Books Ring Mah Bell The profile said female, but I thought the same thing w/ the "you women" thing.


message 19: by Kim (last edited Jul 30, 2008 12:30PM) (new)

Kim That's ass backwards.. I work and my husband stays at home and he's damn fine at being a stay at home dad. They don't watch television, they have amazing imaginations, they're clever and articulate and have great sense of what is right and wrong (Caillou excepted). We put each of them in pre-school for the social interaction and yes, to give him a break.

I could not do what he does. I respect him and any other stay at home parent more than you can imagine.

Anyone that thinks in those terms are asses. That person seems exceptionally resentful and probably has major issues of their own to deal with but chooses to lash out at you. You're a kick ass mom, Bells and you're a kick ass dad, Anthony and I'm sure both of your spouses are extremely lucky to have you.

message 20: by george (new) - added it

george See, now that shit pisses me off. Especially when someone writes feminist in what I can only assume is meant to be quotation marks. Like it isn't a real word.

It could very well be a woman who wrote this, despite the "you women" comment--I've had many an unfortunate dealing with wacko women like this on myspace who don't like my blogs; and, like this person, think that the only reason women exist is to give birth and raise babies. They consider themselves "real women," while us psycho feminists are not. So actually, Ms./Mr. Dumbass, women should be in quotation marks, not feminist (bet the Ms. really pisses 'em off!).

message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

Okay, maybe I came across a little snippy in that message, BRMB, but your going to regret youre poor parenting choices in the future when youre son ends up exactly like me.

Er, what I meant was... why don't you give us a link to that twat's profile so we can give her a few unsolicited parenting tips of our own?

message 22: by Sarah (last edited Jul 30, 2008 01:13PM) (new)

Sarah I really hate it when a person judges another person's choices. What is right for one mother and family is not right for every mother and family. Some families feel it is best for one parent to stay home (and as Kim said, it doesn't always need to be a mother) and some families feel both parents should hold jobs. Sometimes you don't even get to make the choice because two incomes are necessary to put food on the table. Bottom line is everyone should stay out of everyone else's business.

These debates are all over the place: to stay home or not to stay home, to breastfeed or not to breastfeed, to spank or not to spank, to homeschool or not to homeschool, and the list goes on and on.

It kind of seems like that message might have been a troll, Sarah. I can't imagine why someone who doesn't know you would feel the need to get so involved in your life.

I also want to point out, however, that stay at home moms and wives get just as much crap for their decisions as working women do. I can't tell you the number of times someone has asked me in an incredulous voice, "what do you DO all day?"

message 23: by RandomAnthony (last edited Jul 30, 2008 01:36PM) (new)

RandomAnthony Yeah, when my wife was a stay home mom the working moms often said things like "but don't you miss work?" It was clear they were trying to validate their own choices. I think some of that insecurity may have come from the huge controversy surrounding this issue. Sometimes I think women are really hard on each other, at least from an outsider's perspective.

message 24: by J (new)

J Re messages 1-26: YEAH!

Re message 7: Nevermind. I can't stop laughing.

message 25: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Holy fuck. That person should spend less time chastising people in email and more time learning how to write in proper fucking English. Dipshit.

message 26: by Books Ring Mah Bell (last edited Jul 30, 2008 02:58PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Books Ring Mah Bell David, I knew it was you! I could tell by you're writing!

I'd put her link up, but I'm hoping it's a troll like Sarah said and she's on her way to the next victim. Besides, there is no altering that attitude.

Sarah, you are spot on! Why do people get all worked up over someone else's bizz-nass? What works for one family may not work for another. I know if I worked full time, I'd stress about Sam in day care (yes, there are some great providers out there) and I'd stress about not performing 100% at work (calling in when he gets sick... and so on).

I feel somewhat like a loser for being at home.
I feel like a goddess when I snuggle with the boy and read books.

I am going to agree with RA, women are hard on eachother. Critical wenches. (minus the fine ladies who commented here)

message 27: by Kim (last edited Jul 30, 2008 01:56PM) (new)

Kim I knew it was David.

CCP, Bellsy! I'll add 'Too'.

message 28: by Michelle (new)

Michelle your not a looser 4 staying at home u r sposed 2 b bairfoot n preggers cuz u a wumin

message 29: by Valerie (new)

Valerie The funny thing is that I'm sure the person that sent you that email probably thinks they're a good parent. What a joke.

Books Ring Mah Bell your not a looser 4 staying at home u r sposed 2 b bairfoot n preggers cuz u a wumin

How are we folkeses supposed to kno wat to du if we have to acshuly think?

This is why I log in every day.

AMEN to everything Abigail said in msg. 33!

message 31: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Abigail makes great points. However let's not forget that men have unfair expectations put on them by society (and each other) as well. Don't be too sensitive or emotional, because then you'll be a sissy. Don't be too masculine, because then you'll be a misogynist. Make sure you're always the most successful and the strongest and the most athletic, and the smartest, because that's what a "man" is supposed to be. You have to be the provider, the head of the family.

message 32: by becca (new)

becca Oh where, oh where do I begin? First off, BRMB, all you basically said was that stay at home moms do sacrifice. In your case, yes, you absolutely do. I can see how some stay at home moms may not see it that way for themselves, but in your case, and many other women's cases, you sacrifice! It is apparent that this judgmental cunt is a stay at home mom who has sacrificed herself also...sacrificed her education. She's obviously a dumbass. I hope she doesn’t home school her unfortunate children, because if she does, they’re grammatically screwed and will be closed-minded little minions.

Does this anal, self-righteous blowhard know that when you do work your 4 or so days a month that you are helping save lives? I would hardly call that a “high power corporate robot”. Does she know that I have a video of your three year old son saying he wants to be like “mommy” when he grows up so he can “fix people”? That is an exact quote. Does she know that when your son was 2 ½, he looked at a shape he was playing with and correctly defined it as a parallelogram…and correctly identified the next as a trapezoid? That blew me away, and the knowledge was a direct result of the time you spend with him, teaching him. Does she know that you have NOT, for even one day of your son’s life, EVER put him in a daycare? Does she know that every day, you are constantly filling his mind with new ideas and experiences? Does she know that you worked your ass off in college to get your degrees, even after high school wasn’t exactly a breeze for you? What exactly does she know about you? Nothing…so back the fuck off!

“You should think about staying at home like a real woman.” was the last sentence of her email to you. That is exactly what you do. She obviously knows not one damn thing about you or your family. “Youre (grammar, bitch!) children should be everything in your life, that is your job as a woman.” No, dumbfuck, children should be a priority in your life, and that should be your job as a PARENT...fathers AND mothers. And finally, “Your (I SAID GRAMMAR, BITCH!) missing out on the best times with your children, paying someone else to watch them grow and teach them.” Check your facts before you start assuming shit you know nothing about. You need to take a look in the mirror and ask yourself what you are missing in your life. Hater, you don’t sound happy with your own self.

BRMB, you better not tell me who this ignorant fuck is or she’s going to have a very irate visitor at her doorstep. There’s so much more I could say, but I think I’ve made my point.

Does this stupid whore want to get started with me? Because I’m ready to go. I’ve known you for every bit of 21 years, and will stand up for your character any fucking day of the week.

Excuse me while I go do some breathing exercises to calm my ass down.

message 33: by Meen (last edited Jul 30, 2008 06:06PM) (new) - added it

Meen Re: Sarah in #38, the underlying problem IS rigidly defined and dichotomous gender norms. Nothing is so engrained in us, from infancy, as gender is. Questioning how we "do" gender, especially when how we do it is based on a zero-sum hierarchical model, is for some people the same as questioning the existence of gods--just as inconceivable, and very very threatening. (And no coincidence that religious fundamentalisms always include very strict male-dominant gender norms.)

I mean, my gawd, you all know that the most recent incarnation of the "moral" (hah!) conservatism movement grew out the hostile reaction to women CHOOSING not to be what God (or Nature if you like, although they absolutely DO make this a cosmic thing) intended them to be, which is a mother, and a bourgeois Victorian mother at that! (He was just waiting for the right economic time to come along to demonstrate ideal mother behavior.) The notion that given the option a woman might choose NOT to have children or even worse might say, "Being a parent SUCKS, and I wish I'd never done it!" means that this entire cultural myth, from which a LOT of women derive their entire identity and singular sense of self-worth, is called into question.... Hence, totally hysterical moral outrage like BRMB's grammatically challenged friend, housewives sending cookies to their CongressMEN asking them not to pass the ERA, bombing abortion clinics, etc.

message 34: by R. (new)

R. Hmmmm. "Robot"? Did the communication originate from a little town called Stepford?

Books Ring Mah Bell LOL R.M., we have our fair share of those Stepford moms here...

Mindy - perfectly put.

Rebs, er, Lewis, thank you so very much. You made me cry. Saving lives may be reaching a bit, but I love you anyway.

message 36: by becca (new)

becca Well, I'm not going to put on here what you do because I don't know what info you have out there for the cyber world, but I know what you do, and it most definitely is saving lives. So, you're not an ER doctor or a surgeon, that doesn't mean that what you do isn't extremely important and does in many ways save their lives. You are fixing people. You are improving their quality of life, as well as your son's. Here is a transcription from the video i took on July 3, 2008:

me: "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

your child: (with no hesitation or prompting) "A doctor."

me: "Why?"

your child: "Because help...I help...I wanna help fix people."

me: "You wanna help fix people?"

your child: "Mama does (pronounced very cutely dooze) that."

me: "Your mama does that? She's pretty special, huh?"

your child: "Yeah. You're pretty special, mama."

I could have wept.

I dare that woman to come back on here and try to back up anything she has ever said or thought about you.

message 37: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Aw!!! I wanna hug him!! That's a pretty special boy you've got there, Bellsy.

(And lots of us know what you do, and it is very important!)

Books Ring Mah Bell Rebs, I forgot all about that!
You also have a video of my son calling your cat a whore.

(Let's get my parenting skills under the microscope, eh?)

This book kicks dupa, by the way. A real review is in the works.

message 39: by becca (new)

becca Your son called my cat a whore because he was repeating what I SAID! It has nothing to do with you, my darling. Ah, yes...good times. :)

Books Ring Mah Bell See? What kind of mom am I to let him socialize with the likes of you?


message 41: by Karen (new)

Karen BRMB,
WTF? I can't believe someone, man or woman, would write such a horrible message about you. It's funny, my first reaction after being totally pissed off, was they can't spell and certainly know nothing about grammar. Believe me, the fact that you do have a life similar to the one you had before giving birth to your son is a huge bonus to him. He will see his mother as a person who is strong, who loves herself as well as love him and his father. I was a stay-at-home mom while my kids were growing up and they tell me all the time how much that meant to them, how much better they are because of it. And I did have a life outside of motherhood, that was a great example to set for them, just as you are doing now. I sure hope the person who wrote that ridiculous message to you sees all of these responses. If not...forward everyone one of them!

message 42: by Phillip (new)

Phillip Goddamn it. I say we get a rope and string 'er up!

Books Ring Mah Bell Aw, Phillip is here and he's violent. How sweet!

message 44: by Jessica (last edited Aug 01, 2008 05:10AM) (new)

Jessica This whole shocking episode just illustrates the unreasonable binary gender roles applied to the sexual behavior of felines. Why do we, as a society, applaud male cats for "tomming around," while teaching the young pet-owners of tomorrow that rubbing creepily against our legs and screeching all night are "whorish" when engaged in by lady cats? Subjecting our cats to these harsh and hypocritical double standards damages kittens everywhere, and hardly advances the fight for gender equality.

(Um, your cat is a girl, right? I just realized I'm totally making assumptions here. Anyway....)

For shame!

message 45: by Books Ring Mah Bell (last edited Feb 27, 2009 08:19AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Books Ring Mah Bell Here is the "real" review:

Wherever you are Barb, shred it. you know you want to!

A thousand thanks to all of you for your support and kind words. What a wonderful (and wapred) group of interweb pals!

Jessica, the cat in question is a male. Very whoreish, though. (Thanks for the laugh)

message 46: by Phillip (new)

Phillip "anal, self-righteous blowhard"

Holy Cow, I just realized my mother-in-law must have written you the email, BRMB. I have to take back the part about hanging her.

message 47: by Nikki (new) - added it

Nikki This may not be your official review, but you made me want to read the book because of it.

Tracy Wow BRMB I'm so sorry that asshole sent you that message. I was furious for you (well and me and all women). Your little boy sounds adorable. I think you are a great mom from the sounds of it. I loved this book and I love this web site (mostly).

Tracy Wow. Bells I'm so sorry that asshole sent you that hateful message. Your little boy sounds adorable and you sound like an awesome mother.

Tracy Ok. So I tried to send a message and Goodreads keeps eating them. I am so sorry that that intolerant bitch sent you that hateful message. Your little boy sounds like a darling and you sound like a fantastic mom.

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