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The Feminine Mistake


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About the Author

Leslie Bennetts has been a contributing editor at Vanity Fair since 1988, writing on subjects that have ranged from movie stars to U.S. anti-terrorism policy. Prior to joining Vanity Fair, Bennetts spent fifteen years as a newspaper reporter, covering "women's issues" at The New York Times and other papers. She was the first woman ever to cover a presidential campaign for the Times. Her work has been published in many national magazines, including Vogue, New York Magazine, Good Housekeeping, Ladies Home Journal, Town & Country, More, The New York Times Magazine, The Nation. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, journalist Jeremy Gerard, and their two children.


Bennetts raises a genuine flag of concern on the playing field of the sexes. Rather than falling into the trap of the so-called "mommy wars" debate, she addresses an important contention of the women's movement: women's economic dependency on men. Whether women choose to or are coerced into giving up jobs for their families, Bennetts sees serious problems when capable women remove themselves entirely from the economy. In doing so, they return to the power structure of the past, where ultimately the woman must yield to the economically independent man. While she makes many extremely valid points, her execution falls shorter than one would hope. She proves a bit long-winded, even in this abridgment. Her voice drones on through examples and statistics that pass the point of proof into redundancy, and her voice lacks passion and energy. Nonfiction narrators need to be animated in order to hold the listener's attention. She speaks in a gentle tone that sometimes comes across as mildly condescending. In the end, despite her flawed delivery, her message certainly demands consideration. Simultaneous release with the Hyperion/Voice hardcover (Reviews, Jan. 22). (Mar.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Passionate and well argued, this program questions the supposed familial rewards of stay-at-home mothering. Bennetts focuses on "economic dependency"--when one partner (usually the man) provides the sole financial support for a family--and enumerates the financial, emotional, and legal costs of this arrangement for women. While she covers many points, the studies showing the difficulty women have reentering the work force are particularly grim. Even more surprising, Bennetts found that many young, well-educated women did not want to consider these issues, preferring to think that divorce, illness, the death of a partner, and work reentry difficulties will not happen to them. Bennetts investigates possible reasons for this deliberate myopia and offers countermeasures. This audiobook, along with Robin L. Smith's Lies at the Altar, are essential listening for women contemplating marriage and a family. Highly recommended for public and school libraries.--Kathleen Sullivan, Phoenix P.L. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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