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Beck and her husband (with their three children) bailed out of tenure-track academic positions to write and study independently. Hundreds of interviews with women in the US and Asia, as well as her own personal "breaking point," gave her the material to write this book. It is the sociologist part of her that successfully defines and describes the paradoxical pressures that place contemporary women in a double bind, a paradox left over from the 18th century: Women are encouraged to achieve today, but are still considered "unfeminine" when they do; women who adhere to traditional roles are condemned for not being achievers. The "traditional" thought of the "Dark Ages," where social stratification was rigid and women were subordinate to men, clashes with the philosophy of the Enlightenment in which "rational humans" celebrated equal opportunity. Except that opportunity existed only for white males—women and people of color were (sotto voce) considered "sub-human." Beck portrays five phases that progress from early socialization through the breaking point to a more nebulous description of re-creating the "true self," that includes edgy concepts like "satori" and paridigm shifts. She sorts out portraits of several cohorts, from the children of the Depression to Generation X, in terms of the influence of female role mdels. Unfortunately underrated are other monumental cohort experiences, such as WW II, Woodstock, Watergate, and television.
A cogent view of the forces that drive many women to radical turning points in their lives. Where to go from there is not so clear.
|Introduction: The Process of Moving Through the Breaking Point||3|
|1||Some History: The Foundation of a House Divided||23|
|2||Lurching Through Herstory||57|
|Phase 2||Encountering Paradox|
|3||Strange Loops and Double Binds: The Nature of Paradox||93|
|4||Refugees from the Holy War||118|
|Phase 3||Reaching the Breaking Point|
|5||Hitting the Breaking Point||151|
|6||The Age Factor||176|
|8||Satori: The Paradigm Shift||253|
|9||Caring for the True Self||285|
|10||Changing the Rules of the Game||319|
|11||The "Emergent" Society of the United States: A World Beyond the Breaking Point||348|
|Afterword: Telling Women's Stories||375|
Posted January 23, 2001
Martha Beck has succinctly described the confusing paradox affecting so many American women. This book helped to change my life by putting me in charge of my choices. Knowing that generations of women have struggled to find personal fulfillment despite contradictory signals has liberated me. I wish the book were still in print so I could send it to all my dearest women friends.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.