The Feminine Mistake

A friend recently loaned me the controversial book “The Feminine Mistake.” I’m only a few pages into it, so it’s far too early for me to really comment on the book, specifically. That said, what’s to stop me from commenting on the overall premise?

I’m sure you all know by now that basically the author’s argument is that if women step out of the workforce to stay home full-time with their children, they are basically putting themselves in a vulnerable position. By earning no income on her own, the idea is that the woman is then putting herself in a corner should her marriage fall apart. She has then relied too heavily on her husband, financially, and she is at risk to not find the same kind of work and pay again if she needs to re-enter the workforce, and what about the care of her children? How will she be able to continue supporting them as they are used to being taken care of?

Again – without having read the book yet – on the surface it seems that the premise is a very harsh, dark cold one. Afterall, when we head down the alter to meet our groom and become husband and wife – surely no one’s thinking about what to do when the whole thing falls apart.

And when we get pregnant and deliver our first child into this world, surely no one is thinking about what we’ll do if the whole thing falls apart.

Same with when we quit our jobs to stay home full-time to tend to our children.

Bottom line is – everything we do, in terms of big, real decisions, in my view, is a leap of faith. You can’t get any assurances in this world – you have to just view it as the glass half full and move on.

So how do I take that philosophy on life and apply it against the “Feminine Mistake” premise, which is to very cautiously and conservatively, constantly plan for the worst in life and have yourself covered?

I don’t really have an answer to that. The truth is, while I think that the big decisions we make are leaps of faith and we can’t really plan for what happens when the whole thing falls apart, I think it’s naive to not consider that as an option.

We have no guarantees. We don’t know what our life is going to be in 15 years, we don’t know how we will change, how our husbands will change. How do you know that further down the road, you won’t suddenly become obsessed with skateboarding as your hobby and start spending too much time with teens at the skate park?

Sure, it might seem ludicrous right now – but it happens.

Just like affairs happen, illness happens, stress from life happens and wears on a marriage. Wears it out.

So no, you don’t think about that when you’re bounding down the aisle in a white gown, but the truth is – with the divorce rate what it is in this country, it is naive to not consider the hard horrible outcomes when making this choice.

You might be wondering why I’m bringing this up now when this book is not new. Basically a conversation I had with a friend last week over baby happy hour has been percolating in my mind since Friday and you know my rule of thumb, if I’ve thought about it for more than 2-3 days, it’s blog material.

My friend said that the discussion of the book during her book club meeting really turned contentious. There were younger moms in the room and many of them were almost offended at her suggestion that you’re naive to think that divorce and the dissolution of your marriage isn’t a possibility and so you should protect yourself with work.

Those aren’t words any of us ever want to hear but I just don’t think it’s that wrong to consider when making the decisions we make.

Even so, I still view the cup as half full.

One Response to The Feminine Mistake
  1. WendyK
    January 16, 2008 | 9:47 pm

    I thought the premise of the book (I also haven’t read it) is that women should be cautioned from leaving the workplace because of the statistics of divorce AND possible early death of husband…Still morbid/dark, and I’m not sure either should have influence on the decision. But…very interesting to contemplate.

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

Trackback URL http://www.wiredmomma.com/2008/01/the-feminine-mistake/trackback/