Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Banned from Amazon!

I couldn't believe it when wouldn't publish my review of Leslie Bennetts' The Feminine Mistake. I believed that my review was a thoughtful, specific critique making it clear that I thought the book was a worthwhile read despite its flaws.

Here's what Amazon said:

"Your review of "The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much?" was removed because your comments in large part focused on authors and their intentions, rather than reviewing the item itself.

Our guidelines do not allow discussions that criticize authors or their intentions. We encourage all voices to respond openly in our store, both positive and negative. However, we do exert some editorial control over our customer reviews.

As such, your review cannot be posted on in its current format. What I can suggest is that you resubmit your review, restricting your comments to critically analyzing the content of the item."

Ooooookay, to be honest I really didn't know what to make of that. The author's intentions are clear in the work and I was responding to that. Her book has a strong point of view, and I was critiquing the extent to which she successfully made her point, or not.

Ironically, I think that Bennetts herself might have appreciated my critique. On the Huffington Post she was disappointed by women who slagged her book without reading it. Bennett said, "If you want to disagree with my conclusions, you need to address the facts on which they're based rather than acting as if these were simply matters of opinion. They're not." I read and analyzed her book very closely, and one of my criticisms is that in her chapter called "Backward Progress" she gives too much weight and credence to women who agree with her point, and not enough weight to Gen X women who are working to reinvent motherhood, work, feminism, and activism, (cf The Motherhood Manifesto, which Benntts mentions only briefly.) I hate to conjure up Linda Hirshman, but that was the best example of someone whom Bennetts' quoted to support her perspective without acknowledging the legitimate controversy that Hirshman evokes.

I submitted a revised, denuded review to Amazon trying to get through their process. I am not happy with it. I felt inhibited in what I could write, not sure which censor button I was trying to avoid pushing. Too bad, because this book calls for frank discussion. Joan Walsh' review on was very good (and I have to say, quite similar to the one I wrote that Amazon rejected! I am glad that my thoughts were spelled out completely on my previous blog posts).

I would like to invite Leslie Bennetts to be a guest on my podcast, because I'd love to see how a person-to-person interview could balance her published manifesto.


Blogger PunditMom said...

Wow! I can't believe Amazon would do that. On a topic like this, how can one separate the work from the intent? I know I need to read the book, but I'm afraid I'll get too angry!

1:14 PM  
Blogger Danielle said...

Your points are preserved here on your blog so people can find out your point of view. When you have a blog you're the creator and the editor.

Wishing you well

5:40 PM  
Blogger MojoMom said...

I am pretty unhappy with Amazon, especially since I wrote in to challenge it and they gave me all that editorial crap....I say crap because if you look at the other reviews, some don't even address the book specifically at all! They just post their own experience and opinion. If Amazon doesn't post my revised review by tomorrow morning I'll write them again.

8:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous Bosh said...

You wrote "A man is not a financial plan."

Why not? Why is that impossible?

Sure, one should not use n=1 as indicative of the bell curve of possible outcomes, but I put forth my own observations and experience.

My wife "gave up" (she doesn't call it that) her career to raise our (now three) daughters. What else did she do?

She demanded that I increase my professional skills, my earnings, and my health. Oh, and that I sign over, in the event of marital collapse, all assets.

And she was serious.

Is our family income now above US median household income? You bet it is! Why? Because she encouraged and supported me in my professional endeavors.

Is my health better? Well, I may have gone a bit overboard there, given that marathoning has become an avocation (but I do all my training before the family are awake so as not to detract; luckily, I find sleep to be over-rated).

Did I sign over all assets? Yes, yes I did. The house, the retirement, and, in the case of death, I am carrying upwards of $1 million in life insurance.

Do I consider myself lucky? You bet your negativistic butt I do! All I have--all WE have (i.e., professional success, marital happiness, health, and outstanding daughters, the elder of whom are already planning an upcoming family business)--is due to the woman who chose the role of wife and mother.

Given that The Feminine Mistake is about money, I find it interesting that the increase in affluence/wealth of stable marriages is overlooked.

I thank my wife every day for the life she has given me and our children, and by gum if she doesn't thank me right back!

12:12 PM  
Blogger MojoMom said...

Dear Anonymous Bosh, I am glad your arrangement is working out for you and your wife. Most women certainly do not have husbands who are ready to "sign over all assets" to them.

I can't tell if you seriously did that, but good for your wife if she has that much protection.

The laws certainly don't provide for that. Much alimony in the case of a divorce is now "rehabilitative," lasting only a few years and not intended for perpetual support.

As for insurance, how many families have enough insurance or savings to pay for the raising of kids through college AND lifetime support for the surviving spouse?

A man as a financial plan is not impossible but it is improbable and therefore a poor fall-back strategy (especially as an unanalyzed strategy!)

The fact that many women enjoy and value their careers for their own sake is an important discussion thread to pick up another day.

12:38 PM  
Anonymous anonymous bosh said...

I do not disagree with much of your advice (nor, likely, will I necessarily disagree with that of The Feminine Mistake--once my library secures a copy and I have read it); however, financial advice, I think, should be more universal and not delivered in the context of "Your man will die or leave you or both: Provide! Provide!"

But why not focus on alerting men as to the treasure that is a wife or the value of a strong marriage? Why not focus on how to succeed as a family rather than how to prepare individually for failure?

As far as I can tell (as a man), men are...schlubs. Those that produce results are often near one-dimensional (or borderline autistic in their specialized purusuits); they *need* a wife to add dimension and priorities. (How's THAT for atavism?).

My point is that marriage (and, by the way, I do not have an "arrangement," I have a marriage) is complementary and self-sustaining (with appropriate attention), a virtuous circle in which the sum is, indeed, greater than the parts.

Heck, when my wife chooses to return to the workforce (or school or whatever), more power to her; but I strongly suspect that whatever decision she makes (or that we reach as a family) will be well-considered and devoid of self-questioning, blank-slatist angst.

Life? Just get on with it!

1:26 PM  
Anonymous anonymous bosh said...

Lastly (and I will cease after this), you write "The fact that many women enjoy and value their careers for their own sake is an important discussion thread to pick up another day."

I agree entirely. For that (small) percentage of the world, male or female, that finds value and worth in a "career," please pursue it! (But I would argue that children present painful and long-term obstacles to career-minded couples...better to forego them).

Most folks, however, have "jobs." Social forces, in order to pave the way for a select few to pursue "careers," have doomed the majority to "jobs."

Towards what, exactly, are we all working?

I have a successful and fulfilling career; however, if you handed me $2 million (it used to be $1 million, but, well, inflation you know...) I would quit today.

So, why do I work? Why did I give up my personal loves (war-fighting and other unsavory activities) and tie myself to this desk?

Well, duh! I work for the family! To pay the mortgage, the college tuition, the retirement, whatever. I work because man was made Supporting the family gives my life meaning (there, I said it!)

Yes, I am lucky.
And so are you.

Most people are not as lucky as we are, and it is those less-fortunate folks' lives that have been undermined by modern social change (in my opinion), and it is (I will guess) books such as The Feminine Mistake that further undermine, albeit incrementally, the social goods marriage, family, and other "Ozzie and Harriet" concepts.

Ah, forget it. I wrote more but have erased it. No one wants to hear about how to make things work; the world is engaged now in the spreading of misery rather than happiness.

From one privileged and happy member of society to another: mazel tov!

1:53 PM  

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