Bitch in the House: 26 Women Tell the Truth about Sex, Solitude, Work, Motherhood, and Marriageby Cathi Hanauer, Ellen Gilchrist
Virginia Woolf introduced us to the “Angel in the House”, now prepare to meet... The Bitch In the House.
Women today have more choices than at any time in history, yet many smart, ambitious, contemporary women are finding themselves angry, dissatisfied, stressed out. Why are they dissatisfied? And what do they really want? These questions/em>
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Virginia Woolf introduced us to the “Angel in the House”, now prepare to meet... The Bitch In the House.
Women today have more choices than at any time in history, yet many smart, ambitious, contemporary women are finding themselves angry, dissatisfied, stressed out. Why are they dissatisfied? And what do they really want? These questions form the premise of this passionate, provocative, funny, searingly honest collection of original essays in which twenty-six women writers—ranging in age from twenty-four to sixty-five, single and childless or married with children or four times divorced—invite readers into their lives, minds, and bedrooms to talk about the choices they’ve made, what’s working, and what’s not.
With wit and humor, in prose as poetic and powerful as it is blunt and dead-on, these intriguing women offer details of their lives that they’ve never publicly revealed before, candidly sounding off on:
• The difficult decisions and compromises of living with lovers, marrying, staying single and having children
• The perpetual tug of war between love and work, family and career
• The struggle to simultaneously care for ailing parents and a young family
• The myth of co-parenting
• Dealing with helpless mates and needy toddlers
• The constrictions of traditional women’s roles as well as the cliches of feminism
• Anger at laid-back live-in lovers content to live off a hardworking woman’s checkbook
• Anger at being criticized for one’s weight
• Anger directed at their mothers, right and wrong
• And–well–more anger...
“This book was born out of anger,” begins Cathi Hanauer, but the end result is an intimate sharing of experience that will move, amuse, and enlighten. The Bitch in the House is a perfect companion for your students as they plot a course through the many voices of modern feminism. This is the sound of the collective voice of successful women today-in all their anger, grace, and glory.
From The Bitch In the House:
“I believed myself to be a feminist, and I vowed never to fall into the same trap of domestic boredom and servitude that I saw my mother as being fully entrenched in; never to settle for a life that was, as I saw it, lacking independence, authority, and respect.” –E.S. Maduro, page 5
“Here are a few things people have said about me at the office: ‘You’re unflappable.’ ‘Are you ever in a bad mood?’ Here are things people—okay, the members of my family—have said about me at home: ‘‘Mommy is always grumpy.’ ‘Why are you so tense?’ ‘You’re too mean to live in this house and I want you to go back to work for the rest of your life!’” –Kristin van Ogtrop, page 161
“I didn’t want to be a bad mother I wanted to be my mother-safe, protective, rational, calm-without giving up all my anger, because my anger fueled me.” – Elissa Schappell, page 195
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Read an Excerpt
Excuse Me While I Explode
My Mother, Myself, My Anger
My parents met and started dating on the same day, at the age of thirteen. Forty-five years later, my father still glows when he tells the story of seeing my mother on her first day at his school, and how he offered to walk her home that very afternoon. They dated throughout high school, went to the same college, and got married the day before their graduation, at age twenty-one -- three years younger than I am today. After college my father went to graduate school and eventually became a history professor; my mother worked as a schoolteacher for a while; they bought a cheap house in the countryside and started a family. Presto, the American Dream.
When my older sister was born, my mother stopped working out of the house and became the mom I know her as. The mom who maintained a spotless house and a balanced checkbook and found the time to praise and nurture two growing children, all while having dinner ready and waiting, on the table, every night by 6:30. The mom who put off a career until her mid-forties so she would be available to her family -- which she still is -- though that is not to say she didn't work. My mother's job included, but was never limited to, pickling cucumbers, making jam, doing laundry for four people, changing diapers, teaching two children to read, doing all the grocery shopping for a family, cooking three meals a day (making sure a vegetable was included at dinner), cleaning the house, doing art projects, building snowmen, feeding a dog, driving to the doctor's office, picking kids up from piano lessons, going toparent-teacher conferences, sewing hems in school uniforms, ironing men's button-down shirts ... and so on. I think there are few résumés out there that could top my mother's were she ever to think it worthy of writing -- which she never would.
As a young child -- naturally, I suppose -- I don't really remember being aware that my mother existed between the time I left for school in the morning and the time she arrived at the bus stop to meet me coming home. Laundry and dusting and shopping were far outside my elementary-school-age mind, and if chores were done when I got home, it certainly didn't catch my attention. As I grew older, however, my awareness of our household began to change. My mother went back to school and, at age forty-five, became a special ed teacher. After that, she often came home exhausted at 5:30 and began making dinner. Saturdays and Sundays she woke up early to rush all over, cleaning, cooking, shopping, organizing the calendar. Monday mornings she'd be up at 4:30 to write a report that had been neglected over the weekend, then she'd make me breakfast before school and zip off to work. Gradually, I began to notice that she never seemed to have a moment to herself. Simultaneously, I realized that my father, who took care of all the "manly" household chores -- chopping wood, killing mice -- still had time for a well-respected career and a whole slew of regular hobbies. The setup began to seem drastically unfair to me. Free time, to my high school mind, was an absolute necessity, and I was witness to the fact that my mother seemed to be getting none of it.
This is not to say that I suddenly dropped to my knees before my mother, realized the saint that she was, and thanked her. Instead, I became disappointed in her and -- to my current shame and regret -- ridiculed her for being so undemanding about her own needs and so willing to dedicate herself to maintaining the house and serving us. I became angry at both of my parents: at my father that his chores (take apart and reassemble the kitchen sink, work in the garden, snow-blow the driveway) seemed interesting and challenging and were always impressive to friends and relatives, while my mother's endless chores seemed layered in routine and monotony. Both my parents had careers now, but it still fell to my mother to do every trivial and mindless thing that needed to be done, and I was frustrated with her for never seeming to mind this or to demand more help from my father.
I spent hours as a teenager talking to her (rarely listening) about why she was so accepting of her role in our family. I would recount the way my father would stride into the house after work and she would politely have dinner waiting for him; the way there was an unspoken sentiment in our house that his career was more important than hers. "Why don't you divorce him and find a husband who will offer to clean up the kitchen after dinner and let you sit down for once?" I would yell; or, "How come his job takes precedence over everything else while yours has to fit around all the other things you do and have always done?" Somehow, my mother was always able to shrug me off -- to reply that she was fine, that someday I would understand. But I wasn't at all sure that I would, or that she was. What's more, I believed myself to be a feminist, and I vowed never to fall into the same trap of domestic boredom and servitude that I saw my mother as being fully entrenched in; never to settle for a life that was, as I saw it, lacking independence, authority, and respect.
I met my own boyfriend, Paul, during my senior year of college. He was absolutely the furthest thing possible from my father, which was exactly what I was looking for at the time. Though I love my father passionately, I was certain that the man of my life would know how to cook dinner and clean the house, would offer to do the dishes, would fold the laundry without being asked. My goal was to avoid the domestic life that my mother had found for herself; the first step was to have a liberal, open-minded boyfriend. I found one with dreadlocks, a nose ring, and a passion for that most nonacademic of subjects, music -- just the opposite of my traditional and overly intellectual father.The Bitch in the House. Copyright © by Cathi Hanauer. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Meet the Author
Cathi Hanauer is the author of three novels—My Sister’s Bones, Sweet Ruin, and Gone—and is the editor of the New York Times bestselling essay collection The Bitch in the House. A former columnist for Glamour, Mademoiselle, and Seventeen, she has written for The New York Times, Elle, Self, Real Simple, and other magazines. She lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, with her husband, New York Times “Modern Love” editor Daniel Jones, and their daughter and son.
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See, I'm not the only one who gets mad! I could relate to almost every story. This book made me laugh, think and forgive.
I have no doubt that these stories are true, heartfelt, honest. It was interesting to read viewpoints that were different than mine--and most were. But I thought there was one aspect over-represented and one aspect severely under-represented. Over-represented: the preponderance of contributors who are writers by trade. Under-represented: I don't recall any mention of soul/spirit/God/Higher Power/Great Mother and I think one's relationship with that force intimately affects how we relate with others in our lives.
I'm not 1/2 way through this book and already I am recommending it to every woman I know, conserative to liberal, religious to atheist. The messages in this collection are universal to all women. The first three essays literally made my jaw drop...it was as if someone crawled into my head and put my personal thoughts on paper. For the first time, my feelings on womanhood feel completely validated. A book to bring us into the 21st century. Empowering, not a bit degrading, just honest.
Finally a book that tells it like it really is. After I was done I let my husband read it and he has been treating me like a Queen ever since. A must have for every woman, any color, any age, married, single or in limbo.
My God, I loved this book. Almost every single essay is so bold and says things that we all think but never admit (except to one's therapist!). Speaking of which, I told my therapist about this book and she smiled and said, "Three of my patients have already told me about that!" I think one of the most important aspects of this book is the breaking down of myths--about marriage, motherhood, sex. We all go into these things with certain expectations, and then when our lives don't match those expectations we're disappointed and think we've failed. But we haven't. It's just life. And the beauty of this book is how it reveals your own life to you in ways you hadn't thought of. A big Thank You to all of these women!
Young and old, wise and not so-wise can certainly gain insight from this book. Sharing 26 different views on the life of being a woman, this book contains so much raw emotion and truth and reality of life for women anywhere in the world. Whether you're single or married, a parent or happy not being one, fat or skinny, career-oriented or a stay-at-home parent, straight or gay, younger or older, the emotionally-driven mind or "logics only"..whatever the case may be, this collection of essays has somemthing each of us can take from. I congratulate the book's writers on acknowledging that most of us have a weird, if not backwards, image on who we want to be and the reality of who we shall become and by providing insight on how to counteract so many of our shortcomings. The writers in this book are well-seasoned and have learned their lessons the hard way, so my only inquiry would be, why not learn from them also, the easy way !
The book describes in detail true accounts of women's experiences dealing with love, sex, marriage, and personal belief. The book is definately worth a read for someone who is looking to understand there partner. chapter 26 or something dsescribes a women and her relationship with her boyfreind in which she says, 'he absolutely adorded me,he feel in love with me, but Instead I won! How can you manage and go through everyday life with someone like that.' poor Jhonny!! How do women want to be treated?Anywayz its a good book.
This highly cathartic, very revealing and, ultimately, extremely truthful book is a great way to blow off steam while also picking up a few valuable insights.
It never fails to amaze me how some women think self-degradation is an avenue to personal power. This book is degrading to women. Have a little respect for yourelf! Buy something else.