New Must-Read: "The Feminine Mistake" by Leslie Bennetts
If you are a stay-at-home Mom, Leslie Bennetts' new book The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much? will challenge, terrify and offend you. And that's exactly why you should read it.
Bennetts expounds at length on the financial vulnerabilities of mothers, shattering the fairy-tale fantasies we unconsciously carry with us. She and I agree on the basic point that "A man is not a financial plan." Others have said this, notably WIFE.org and Ann Crittenden, but Bennetts lays out the harsh realities of financial depenency through story after story of women who were caught up short by unforeseen twists of fate: divorce, unemployment, disability, or death. These obstacles are quite obvious on a macroscopic level but it is tempting to carry on with the wishful thinking that calamity will never befall us personally. Bennetts' book is strong medicine, but one that every woman should take. Better to read one harsh, challenging book than to sleepwalk through life without a backup plan for self-sufficiency.
As mothers we need to become comfortable with ambivalence and contradiction. Bennetts' book is well-researched AND opinionated. Inflammatory AND valuable. Her sometimes exaggerated style and pessimism feel maddening at times, but even if you don't agree with Bennetts' opinions or analysis of her research, the great news is that she interviewed many women and presents their stories and voices through extensive quotes. I guarantee that at least one of those women will have something valuable to teach you. This elevates Bennetts' work above other recent individual polemics of all political flavors.
I had covered Bennetts' Glamour article in a recent blog post, and I encourage you to read her book. The more stories you hear of women's blindess to their financial vulnerability, the more you can understand Bennetts' passionate advocacy to encourage you to find a way to keep your career alive. She pierces through cultural denial and taboos by pulling back the sentimental mask of motherhood, love and marriage. Her work may be inflammatory, but I liken it to the inflammation that you'd get from a vaccination. We may prefer reading books that validate our life paths and choices, but it can be even more valuable to read the opposing view and formulate an intelligent response.
I am proud that I devoted a chapter to career development and financial planning in Mojo Mom. I covered much of the same ground as Bennetts in abbreviated and much more optimistic form. Read both books, and don't just judge which of us is right; decide what you think for yourself.