It's a cliché that other women are a woman's worst enemies. It's also a cliché that female bosses are more hard-nosed than male ones. Everybody also knows that women feel guilty whenever anything goes wrong; they tend to think problems are their fault. Now we have another book written by a woman for women telling us that we are making mistakes in our life choices and giving up too much. The basic message of a new book, The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much?, by Leslie Bennetts, is that women need to be selfish by avoiding economic dependency and self-centered in recognizing that their worth is largely dependent upon their workforce identity.
According to Bennetts, the biggest mistake that a woman can make is to think that a "man will support you;" there are too many "alluring promises" that are betrayed and "heartless fate" brings divorce, illness, disabling injuries, death, unemployment and a myriad of other events that can leave women in desperate circumstances and/or feeling underappreciated. Bennetts claims that even women in stable, enduring marriages end up viewing their decision to drop out of a career as the "biggest mistake of their lives."
The most disturbing thing about Bennetts' book is her disdain for women who choose to be stay-at-home moms or to drop off the career fast track. The cynicism toward men and marriage is palpable. In an interview with the Web site Huffington Post, the author referred to stay-at-home moms as being "0misled by the fairy-tale version of life, in which Prince Charming comes along and takes care of you forever." Bennetts wrote that the adult world patronizes stay-at-home moms and treats them with condescension as "dimwitted second-class citizens" that "can't deal with reality." Bennetts argues, "The facts don't change just because you refuse to look at them." She wrote her book to wake women up to the reality that there won't "always be an obliging husband around to support them." Joan Walsh praised the book on Salon.com for reminding women that "marriage usually isn't a lifelong paycheck."
Further, says Walsh, the Mistake book is actually written for a small demographic of women –– less than 10 percent –– who are affluent enough to have the option of stepping off the "fast track." Walsh described them as "privileged women" who "enjoy their suburban Colonial homes" and "lord it over the rest of us." Walsh sneers that stay-at-home moms "pretend that raising children is a lifelong endeavor (it isn't) that makes you better than other women (it doesn't)."