Review of What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us by Danielle Crittenden

(This is a review I wrote a few years ago but am transferring it here)

I recently read a book that has summed things up so well to do with the negative effects feminist views have taken on society today, the book is "What our Mothers didn't tell us: Why happiness eludes the modern woman by Danielle Crittenden. It's written to women but men will be encouraged to read these too as it will explain a lot!

I've taken a selection of quotes below in no particular order and will possibly blog my opinions in another blog soon – there are soo many more I could've chosen but these were the ones that really stood out for me as big issues that I see in culture today that I found eye opening in having them pointed out. I didnt realise how culture pervades the way I/we think about al this and makes us see things skewed and it was eye opening to stop and realise where that thinking comes from that is wrong so I can change it because it's not actually what I want in the end. I wholeheartedly agree with each quote.

"Marriage is about more than signing a lease, sharing chores…it's about more than being home in the evenings or spending weekends together or deciding what colour to paint the walls; it's about more, even, than happiness and contentment and compatibility. It is about life and death, blood and sacrifice, about this generation and the next, and one's connection to eternity."

"But it may be that in order for modern to women to have the marriages we want, we will have to stop being so preoccupied about our identities, and instead develop an appreciation for the mutual, if differing, contributions we make to marriage as men and women. Maybe what we should expect from our marriages is not so much an equality in kind but an equality in spirit. We want our husbands to love and respect us, to see us as their equal in all aspects of the mind and soul, but that doesn't mean we have to do exactly the same things in our day to day lives or to occupy identical roles. We must also understand that family has never been about the promotion of rights but about the surrender of them – by both the man and the woman. A wife and husband give us their freedoms, their right to "pursue happiness' entirely on their own terms the moment they leave the altar. No matter what may come of their marriage they have tied their identities – and fates – together. She is hardly declaring herself his chattel. She is asserting, rather, that she and her husband have formed a new family, distinct from all their previous ties, both permanent and total in its commitment. It may seem arbitrary that they take the man's name instead of making up a new one or hyphenating both names.. The husbands name, in any case, ceases to refer to just him and now reflects the combined personality of the family itself, like a newly merged corporation."

"The different roles we assume as mothers and fathers, the different deals we wish to cut with each other in order to sustain these roles- these have persisted through thirty years of social revolution and beyond. What has not persisted is the society that recognised the mutual sacrifices husbands and wives make for each other, that understood marriage as an arrangement of give and take rather than quid pro quo…"

".. the happiest marriages are held together for reasons: because husbands and wives seek different, supportive roles within marriage, because they rely upon each other for different things. And marriages are held together even more by opinion – the opinion of society that marriage is good and laudable, that separation is a calamity and a failure, and by the opinion of the husband and wife themselves that only the gravest incompatibility can justify divorce. But we have, step by step, weakened these reasons and discarded these opinions. There is nothing now left to being a man to his wife and children – or a wife to her husband – but the very tenuous bonds of affection and sexual attraction. If a man is decent and loves his wife and would never abandon her, well, lucky her – she's found, by today's standards, a rare gem".

"A modern couple's desire to keep their arrangement strictly balanced, at all levels, is actually a way of protecting each partner's self interest in the event that the marriage dissolves. The compromises a couple is willing to make for each other, the responsibilities the partners are willing to shoulder for their family, are bearable only if they can be assured that their marriage is going to last and that the society around them considers an enduring marriage important – indeed, worthwhile and admirable."

"And it will be even tougher for a woman to take time out from her job to stay home with her kids if, before giving birth, she's been especially adamant about the fairness and equality of her marriage. Asking her husband to shoulder the whole burden of being the breadwinner will not necessarily strike him as 'fair' or 'equal'. If she hasn't been willing to accept any of the traditional duties of a wife – indeed, if she's rejected them at every turn – how can she suddenly expect him to assume the traditional role of a husband?"

"If we are not willing to do much for our husbands, we can hardly expect them to be willig to do much for us. Sure, modern men might pitch in with the disher or take the kids to the park more often than they used to. But the long term surrender of their freedom, the unshrinking shouldering of the financial burdens of a family – the sacrifices they used to make in exchange for a woman's agreement to run the homes – are sacrifices fewer men are willing to make. Women have gained the right to move into all spheres of society: men, from their point of view, have only lost their right to domestic comfort. Instead they are expected to work as uncomplainingly as ever but also to clean the house, change the diapers, be constant and considerate lovers, give up the freedoms of bachelorhood…..

"I think its generally true to say that women – no matter how individualistic or ambitious they may be – still wish to marry men who will remain faithful to them, who will be able to support their families, who will be responsible and loving fathers, and who will stick by their wives into old age. To find husbands with such qualities, however, seems vastly more difficult than it did a generation ago. This is not only because there is less sexual incentive for a man to tie himself down to one woman, It's also because-as awkward as this may be for women to admit –marriage is not as good a deal for men as it used to be. A generation of wives whose prime concern in marriage is not the care of their families but the anxious protection of their autonomy has brought into being millions of relationships in which the woman is unwilling to do much for the man while expecting much in return."

"The moment you take children seriously…..You household is no longer composed of simply a man and a woman tussling over who will cook and who will clean up. The two adults suddenly find themselves at the helm of a new unit, a new team, whose success will depend upon their wholehearted commitment to each other and to their children. Whether the new arrangement is strictly 'fair' to any individual ceases to be important, or becomes less important than whether it is best or right for the family as a whole. ……Does it make sense to measure a person's worth in a marriage according to the amount of income he or she contributes or to get bogged down by petty power struggles over who mops and who shovels the walk?

"It is sad that in the space of a generation motherhood has sunk from being regarded as a strong, noble and vital task to one that garners pity at best, contempt at worst. Until we acknowledge that not only do children need their mothers but that mothers need their children, and that this is neither bad for women nor a sign of weakness, we will never be e qual to men in the ways we care about – only at best , equivalent in our statistical output and our monetary income".

She reveals how pretty much everything that the original feminists stood for has now been sorted out i.e women are no longer discriminated against, can apply for their own credit cards etc…. yet it's moved beyond that now getting more and more extreme creating more and more confusion of roles and unhappiness in both males and females whether they are aware of that as the cause or not. It makes me wonder WHY does society listen to these minority voices that have somehow tainted our life and values and effected our quality of life so drastically?

Here is a quote that Crittenden threw back at a woman in her 50s from the original feminist movement who was still very much supporting it:
"Don't you see what you're telling me? You had to put up with a certain amount of professional disrespect and prejudice…but you got everything else – children, a husband who is still devoted to you and in the end enormouse professional success…Today, women like me and your daughter take for granted the professional respect you craved, but we can no longer expect marriage, stability and children when we want them. Who is the bigger loser?"

"It is the young, professional and educated women who find it distasteful and completely unhelpful in addressing their problems who discover that the feminist ideas on which they were weaned do not lead them to happier lives but only to loneliness, stress, and the forfeiture of the most joyous experiences of a woman's life. The solution, in fact, lies in the ultimate rejection of politics as a solution to one's personal problems. It lies in honestly reassessing our desires as women. It lies in truthfully acknowledging the sacrifices we have made in exchange for our current freedoms. It lies in rethinking the ways we now arrange our lives. And it lies, maybe most of all, in a readiness to reach a rapprochment with men – one based upon mutual respect for each other's differences but also upon the mutual recognition of how much we need and desire each other"

"What my generation may have discovered is that we have reached the biological limits of our freedom. Having had every legal, economic and social impediment removed, we have run up against the impediments – if you wish to call them that – of our sex. To achieve any more, to be truly able to live the same lives as men, we'd actually have to be men. And this to most women, I suspect, is not an enticing goal. Left to our own devices, we will still fall in love with men, we will continue to put our children ahead of our jobs, we will not desire, in large numbers, to become fire fighters and professional wrestlers, we will still wish to wear eye shadow and push up bras and anything else that makes us more attractive to the opposite sex, we will, in short, continue to behave like women"

"Women are more independent of men than ever. But for that independence, we have paid a heavy price. We receive more respect at the office but less respect as mothers. We lead more emancipated sex lives, but we have sacrificed male deference and commitment. We have more control over our professional lives, but we enjoy much less satisfaction in our personal lives."

"Women today may be leading more varied lives than they ever were but our fundamental interests are unchanged. Those interests are rooted in the roles the vast majority of us eventually assume as wives and mothers, whether we continue to work or not. These are interests our society once recognised and sought to protect through our legal and social institutions. The women's movement attempted to replace women's natural alliance with each other – one that was based upon the defense of marriage and the family by law and custom – with a new 'sisterhood' based on women as a political class in opposition to men. To a great extent the feminists succeeded'

"No one compels us to have babies. When we do bear them, we have an obligation to care for them, no matter how dull and tiring it may be.. The local Humane Society will not let you adopt a puppy if you work full-time, Why should our standards for children be any less? Yet the feminist wisdom has been that the child should always be the first spinning plate a woman drops even if it's the one most precious to her. "

Be inspired!