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Flux: Women on Sex, Work, Love, Kids, and Life in a Half-Changed World

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Peggy Orenstein's bestselling Schoolgirls is the classic study of teenage girls and self-esteem. Now Orenstein uses the same interviewing and reporting skills to examine the lives of women in their 20s, 30s and 40s. The advances of the women's movement allow women to grow up with a sense of expanded possibilities. Yet traditional expectations have hardly changed. To discov Peggy Orenstein's bestselling Schoolgirls is the classic study of teenage girls and self-esteem. Now Orenstein uses the same interviewing and reporting skills to examine the lives of women in their 20s, 30s and 40s. The advances of the women's movement allow women to grow up with a sense of expanded possibilities. Yet traditional expectations have hardly changed. To discover how they are navigating this double burden personally and professionally, Orenstein interviewed hundreds of women and has blended their voices into a compelling narrative that gets deep inside their lives and choices. With unusual sensitivity, Orenstein offers insight and inspiration for every woman who is making important decisions of her own.


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Peggy Orenstein's bestselling Schoolgirls is the classic study of teenage girls and self-esteem. Now Orenstein uses the same interviewing and reporting skills to examine the lives of women in their 20s, 30s and 40s. The advances of the women's movement allow women to grow up with a sense of expanded possibilities. Yet traditional expectations have hardly changed. To discov Peggy Orenstein's bestselling Schoolgirls is the classic study of teenage girls and self-esteem. Now Orenstein uses the same interviewing and reporting skills to examine the lives of women in their 20s, 30s and 40s. The advances of the women's movement allow women to grow up with a sense of expanded possibilities. Yet traditional expectations have hardly changed. To discover how they are navigating this double burden personally and professionally, Orenstein interviewed hundreds of women and has blended their voices into a compelling narrative that gets deep inside their lives and choices. With unusual sensitivity, Orenstein offers insight and inspiration for every woman who is making important decisions of her own.

30 review for Flux: Women on Sex, Work, Love, Kids, and Life in a Half-Changed World

  1. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Fantastic book about women in post-feminist America. The author did lots of really great interviews with women at all stages of their lives and gains a lot of insight into how the work-family balance is playing out for them. I found myself sympathizing with so many of the stories, goals, and challenges, and I feel I learned a lot just hearing about their experiences. Really fascinating to see what sort of trade-offs each woman decided to make along the course of their careers. I highly recommend Fantastic book about women in post-feminist America. The author did lots of really great interviews with women at all stages of their lives and gains a lot of insight into how the work-family balance is playing out for them. I found myself sympathizing with so many of the stories, goals, and challenges, and I feel I learned a lot just hearing about their experiences. Really fascinating to see what sort of trade-offs each woman decided to make along the course of their careers. I highly recommend this book for any and all women trying to steer their way through their careers(of course, it provides men with some good insight into things, too!).

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    When I first read this book in 2005, it was a complete lifesaver. I was in my early/mid 20s, living in NYC, struggling with trying to figure out the next step in my career, while balancing hopes and dreams of finding a partner and starting a family, all of which seemed so far out of my reach in that crazy city. In short, I was having my quarter-life crisis. I fell in love with this book because it discussed all of the things the people (really, the women) I knew weren't discussing -- how to bala When I first read this book in 2005, it was a complete lifesaver. I was in my early/mid 20s, living in NYC, struggling with trying to figure out the next step in my career, while balancing hopes and dreams of finding a partner and starting a family, all of which seemed so far out of my reach in that crazy city. In short, I was having my quarter-life crisis. I fell in love with this book because it discussed all of the things the people (really, the women) I knew weren't discussing -- how to balance work, life, family, and friends, deciding on whether to have kids, finding success, or even just contentment. Peggy Orenstein collected her thoughts through interviews with women from a variety of backgrounds, though as another reviewer pointed out, she mainly talks to people who have achieved some degree of career success or who have decided to take time away from the workplace to raise their children. There are no profiles of women who are struggling, who are unable to make ends meet, who have had an unplanned pregnancy, etc. That said, the most important takeaway from this study is that it's very difficult to have it all and there are a number of people who have made alternative choices and had happy lives. That the ideal we're encouraged to attempt to achieve is neither ideal nor necessarily worth achieving. I found this exceptionally reassuring during a difficult year. I decided to reread this book in early 2010 because I'd recently made another batch of big life changes and wanted to remind myself of how conflicted other people felt about their choices. On the reread, with a few more years of experience under my belt, this book did not quite earn the five stars I originally gave it, but it was still a good reminder that life takes a lot of different directions and they're all okay ones. There are still many changes that need to be made so that women can have the chance to pursue demanding careers, and who knows when we'll get there. The best points I took from this book is that women of all generations need to speak more openly about their experiences, including their joys and their disappointments. Most importantly, young women need to stop buying into the myth that romance and children are the panacea for all their problems, and build their careers and their friendships so that they can have options if they do end up single for a time, something that is more likely given the rates of divorce and widowhood. For me, that was the biggest lesson: we need friendships and relationships that will help sustain us through all the challenges life will throw our ways. I'm keeping my rating at five stars because I think it does what it says and that was my initial impression. Peggy Orenstein is a fantastic writer and I recommend checking out her other work. This book is best for women really feeling the state of flux of their lives, and anyone who wants to better understand and support them. But we could do even better and talk to one another! :)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    Wow. Its really rare for me to wish that I had read a book earlier, but this is one of those. Ms Orenstein does an excellent job of capturing thoughts and expectations of women in 20s, 30s, and 40s, with and without (or wanting or not wanting) children, in the professional workplace (or reasons for leaving it) and organizing them into a set of coherent narratives interspersed with relevant statistical facts that clearly delineate the trade offs each decade is facing. I learned a lot from this bo Wow. Its really rare for me to wish that I had read a book earlier, but this is one of those. Ms Orenstein does an excellent job of capturing thoughts and expectations of women in 20s, 30s, and 40s, with and without (or wanting or not wanting) children, in the professional workplace (or reasons for leaving it) and organizing them into a set of coherent narratives interspersed with relevant statistical facts that clearly delineate the trade offs each decade is facing. I learned a lot from this book, mostly about looking at ideas and plans in a constructive way, and will definitely be recommending it to younger women friends. I also definitely plan to "strongly" recommend that my husband read it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Melainia Mcclain

    A survey of a small number of hand picked highly educated and ambitious women of 3 different age groups (and of 3 different life stages according to the author) who desire or desired a career track in male dominated fields, this book was informative in the way case studies can be. It highlights some potential struggles, pitfalls, and contradictions in a woman's pursuit of a balanced life in a half changed world. It brings some often unconscious but deeply seeded beliefs about gender roles and so A survey of a small number of hand picked highly educated and ambitious women of 3 different age groups (and of 3 different life stages according to the author) who desire or desired a career track in male dominated fields, this book was informative in the way case studies can be. It highlights some potential struggles, pitfalls, and contradictions in a woman's pursuit of a balanced life in a half changed world. It brings some often unconscious but deeply seeded beliefs about gender roles and social acceptance out into the open, and shows how easy it can be for these beliefs to shape the lives of both women and men without either realizing it, as well as illustrating the benefits of a truly chosen alternative to the traditional culturally expected lifestyles. An interesting read which ultimately comes down to the importance of self awareness, communication, and planning, as tools to break down these often undiscussed beliefs and the issues that arise from them, which lead to the sacrifice of equality between men and women, and often to a disproportionate amount of depressed and stifled women in marriages. As far as this book relating to me, I have to admit there were a lot of ideas and positions expressed by the women in the book which shocked me. I obviously do not live in the same world that some of these women seem to, but I have made it a priority in my life to challenge every feeling and belief I have for underlying legitimacy, and have only one goal which is happiness. Even so, the experiences of some of these women in their relationships to men and how they would keep the peace and not stand up for themselves, losing their own identity in the process, was something I have experienced, and something that had I not been as sure as I was about the relative non importance of marriage in my life, could have propelled me on the same superficial appearances oriented controlled perfectionism mixed with self sacrificing acquiescence that seems to plague so many wives and/or mothers. The sexism of today is not as overt as that of yesterday, but we seem to be under the false belief that there is no more sexism, while we go merrily along conforming to gender roles despite ourselves, believing we have all these choices and options yet still somehow ending up at the same unfulfilling places over and over again, through the conflict between what we believe intellectually and what we feel based on still prevalent gender role indoctrination. The mixed messages of the half changed world.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Interesting book, but dealing mostly with the question "Can women 'do it all'?" (i.e. have a great career AND have children), I felt it didn't apply to me. And since when is choosing between family and work strictly a woman's problem? Many men wish they could spend more time with their families but buy into the 'man as breadwinner' stereotype that keeps them working long hours in thankless jobs just to make sure their families are kept fed, housed, and healthy. The book looks at different women Interesting book, but dealing mostly with the question "Can women 'do it all'?" (i.e. have a great career AND have children), I felt it didn't apply to me. And since when is choosing between family and work strictly a woman's problem? Many men wish they could spend more time with their families but buy into the 'man as breadwinner' stereotype that keeps them working long hours in thankless jobs just to make sure their families are kept fed, housed, and healthy. The book looks at different women and their husbands, boyfriends, friends, and families. Some women are in a traditional relationship (husband earns most if not all of the money and wife primarily takes care of children and household), one woman was a single mother by choice who was artificially inseminated and is raising her daughter with the help of grandma. I did like the stories about single working women, which I related to more (I don't recall there being a married working woman featured with no children..). One quote that scared me, because I definitely think this is how a lot of people might view me: "She was the only woman there who was single and childless. "And it's really okay," she had insisted when she introduced herself. "It's not bad at all. When the electricity went out Monday night, I had beer and chips for dinner out on the front steps, looking at the park across the street, and I was happy with that. I didn't have to worry that someone else might want food and might want me to fix it. I didn't have to explain anything to anyone." "Anothe woman in the group interrupted her. "I just can't believe you're for real," she said. "I can't believe you really feel that way."

  6. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    Overall, I don't particularly relate to a lot of these women on a micro level, but I relate to the questions and challenges they face in general. I would like to see an update of this book, perhaps looking at how these women are 13 years later. I also would like to have heard less from women executives that are financially killing it, and more from 'regular' women. Not every woman who feels she has tough choices has astronomical aspirations. Not well reflected are families where neither mom nor Overall, I don't particularly relate to a lot of these women on a micro level, but I relate to the questions and challenges they face in general. I would like to see an update of this book, perhaps looking at how these women are 13 years later. I also would like to have heard less from women executives that are financially killing it, and more from 'regular' women. Not every woman who feels she has tough choices has astronomical aspirations. Not well reflected are families where neither mom nor dad has a choice to NOT work, single mothers (not by choice), same-sex couples and widows. I think I read a comment from another reviewer that said it was a lot about "where women are, rather than where they could be." I agree with that. The discussion is a lot about choice and consequences, which is important, but I wonder how the discussion changes in tighter circumstances. What I'd like to see in a part II: How are women navigating very tenuous situations, especially given the economic circumstances of the past decade? What would a book like this look like from the perspective of males? (I'd be curious to hear if they feel any similar pressures, and if their mindsets are shifting at all, in general.) How do same-sex couples navigate these questions? What has happened to these women in the intervening years?

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    I feel conflicted. On the one hand this book gave me a lot of think about and reflected issues I am currently wrestling with. I think the question of women's changing roles is an important one and the book really covered a good range of women and life choices. However, I also feel like much of Orenstein's biases and judgment came across at certain points. On top of that, some of her conclusions (or maybe observations is a better word?) seemed simplistic and possibly predetermined by her own feel I feel conflicted. On the one hand this book gave me a lot of think about and reflected issues I am currently wrestling with. I think the question of women's changing roles is an important one and the book really covered a good range of women and life choices. However, I also feel like much of Orenstein's biases and judgment came across at certain points. On top of that, some of her conclusions (or maybe observations is a better word?) seemed simplistic and possibly predetermined by her own feelings on the issues. I am curious for more information on what her sample size was and whether she has a beak down on the ages, races, socio economic backgrounds of the women she spoke with. Ok, now that I write this I realize that I wanted a lot more out of this book than it gave me. I think I wanted it to be more sociological (in that I wanted methodology and some statistical data) than journalistic. Certain issues really hit a nerve and made me angry with the women in the book and with the author. I really think that book casts too wide a net and comes up simplistic, with broad strokes rather than presenting anything earth shattering and profound.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    I dunno. A lot of my friends really loved this book, which is why I decided to read it. But it just didn't do it for me. I thought it was overly simplistic. I didnt' like that there weren't any interviewees who were just plain happy with their lives--surely, there must be some women out there who don't feel that they have had to wade through life, constantly struggling and somewhat disappointed with their choices? I suppose that's not the issue--we all struggle with SOMEthing--but these women ju I dunno. A lot of my friends really loved this book, which is why I decided to read it. But it just didn't do it for me. I thought it was overly simplistic. I didnt' like that there weren't any interviewees who were just plain happy with their lives--surely, there must be some women out there who don't feel that they have had to wade through life, constantly struggling and somewhat disappointed with their choices? I suppose that's not the issue--we all struggle with SOMEthing--but these women just seemed so frustrated, no matter what choices they made. A lot of the stories seemed kind of melodramatic. Also, I was frustrated by the lack of diversity among the women who told their stories--the book felt somewhat elitist. I recognize that the author was interested in a particular subset of women--those who are highly educated and upper income--but I just couldn't relate, despite having a similar educational and professional background.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Emily Dahl

    A coworker suggested I read this one. After lending her The Meaning of Wife, she was shocked to learn that I hadn't read this one. I wasn't too keen to read it, not that I was opposed, I just thought that I'd read it already-- what could possibly be new? However, I was pleasantly surprised. I appreciated the first person perspective that Orenstein supplied through the direct quotes from her interview subjects. The topics covered, love/sex/work/kids/life, resonated with me and I appreciated that A coworker suggested I read this one. After lending her The Meaning of Wife, she was shocked to learn that I hadn't read this one. I wasn't too keen to read it, not that I was opposed, I just thought that I'd read it already-- what could possibly be new? However, I was pleasantly surprised. I appreciated the first person perspective that Orenstein supplied through the direct quotes from her interview subjects. The topics covered, love/sex/work/kids/life, resonated with me and I appreciated that many of the perspectives represented were similar to the questions I ask myself. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with the cross-section of women that Orenstein chose to include. By and large, the women were rich and privileged. I would've enjoyed hearing from a variety of working class and lower middle class women.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Molly

    definitely worthwhile reading, as it provides a “normalizing” context for my own confusion and frustration with what I am and am not able to affect in my life however, the book reads as if it is (and I think this is accurate) a project that the author put together for her own benefit, and so it seems a little biased – it covers a pretty narrow age range and by the end it feels like what happens when a nice but overbearing person has trapped you in a corner at a party – you don’t disagree necessa definitely worthwhile reading, as it provides a “normalizing” context for my own confusion and frustration with what I am and am not able to affect in my life however, the book reads as if it is (and I think this is accurate) a project that the author put together for her own benefit, and so it seems a little biased – it covers a pretty narrow age range and by the end it feels like what happens when a nice but overbearing person has trapped you in a corner at a party – you don’t disagree necessarily, but you can see other ways of interpreting things and you’d rather just get on the dance floor than discuss

  11. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    This book really freaked me out. It really made me think about things that have been rattling around in my brain for quite awhile, but that I hadn't really faced yet. The book was thought-provoking, but I wouldn't categorize it as an accurate study of women in their 20s, 30s, or 40s. All of the women interviewed seemed to be white, affluent, and working in the corporate world. There was no representation of different ethnicities or sexualities. The book almost seemed more about the author's ques This book really freaked me out. It really made me think about things that have been rattling around in my brain for quite awhile, but that I hadn't really faced yet. The book was thought-provoking, but I wouldn't categorize it as an accurate study of women in their 20s, 30s, or 40s. All of the women interviewed seemed to be white, affluent, and working in the corporate world. There was no representation of different ethnicities or sexualities. The book almost seemed more about the author's quest for answers in deciding to have a child herself, than an objective representation of women struggling with career and family choices. It was an interesting read, but isn't as advertised.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    By 2012 this book was pretty dated. I enjoyed reading it, but I felt like I would like some follow up on whether after the economic downturn, there was any difference of feeling. Also I think that she didn't really get to understand and research the true feelings of men for the book. I think Men have much more of a facade about work and being in the workplace than women do, and so when women have feeling of self-doubt - they think it is a fault of theirs and that they are the only ones that feel By 2012 this book was pretty dated. I enjoyed reading it, but I felt like I would like some follow up on whether after the economic downturn, there was any difference of feeling. Also I think that she didn't really get to understand and research the true feelings of men for the book. I think Men have much more of a facade about work and being in the workplace than women do, and so when women have feeling of self-doubt - they think it is a fault of theirs and that they are the only ones that feel that way. If they really saw than the men have some chinks in their armor, it would help them stay in the market. That is just one of my thoughts.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kati

    I am so tired of these books... and yet I keep reading them. An incomplete analysis of the status of women today, focused largely on "powerful" women. It's not that it doesn't talk about relevant issues, because it does, making some good points along the way. It is just that the whole thing does not even question whether or not we--as women or men--should all be wanting to have "powerful" positions. It does not offer anything revolutionary about our options. If I were you, I wouldn't spend the t I am so tired of these books... and yet I keep reading them. An incomplete analysis of the status of women today, focused largely on "powerful" women. It's not that it doesn't talk about relevant issues, because it does, making some good points along the way. It is just that the whole thing does not even question whether or not we--as women or men--should all be wanting to have "powerful" positions. It does not offer anything revolutionary about our options. If I were you, I wouldn't spend the time.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    In general, I felt disappointed by the interviews and general commentary that the author chose to include in the book. It seemed as though the author assumed that all women want to have the "Dream" - a husband, kids, and a fulfilling career either inside or outside the home. The author then included stories and interviews that focused more on this "Dream" particularly when interviewing women in their 20's and 30's. Overall, I didn't feel as though it was a balanced view of women and their goals.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    The second half of this book went by much faster than the first, perhaps because I could relate/identify more with the women that decided to have children. I thought this book was a little misleading-it contained way more of the author's personal agenda than I had anticipated. The "Afterword" chapter was my favorite, and summed things up nicely. Also, the book is in need of an update-most of the research cited/interviews were from the 90s.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Daniela

    So I wanted to like this book. I was looking for perspective on work life balance for women. But I couldn't get through it. The stories were not too compelling and I felt like I was just hearing everything I already knew about how difficult work life balance is. Perhaps I'm more disappointed in the conclusions than the actual book....

  17. 5 out of 5

    V Tedder

    BORING

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Four days later and I'm still ruminating over some of the lessons that I learned from this book. I think that's telling about its quality. The author, Peggy Orenstein interviews many women in their twenties, thirties, and forties to discover how women handle careers, families, and that ever elusive "balance" between the two. Orenstein wanted to know what decisions these women had made (or were in the process of making) and why they had made them. While she does talk a little about sex, it's real Four days later and I'm still ruminating over some of the lessons that I learned from this book. I think that's telling about its quality. The author, Peggy Orenstein interviews many women in their twenties, thirties, and forties to discover how women handle careers, families, and that ever elusive "balance" between the two. Orenstein wanted to know what decisions these women had made (or were in the process of making) and why they had made them. While she does talk a little about sex, it's really not that central to the core of the ideas in the book - I think the title just includes it as the first word to sensationalize and capture the random browser's interest (it's all about marketing). I appreciated Orenstein's case study approach to these larger issues, narrowing each age group into three examples of women, and then interviewing and examining each woman on why she had made the particular choices that she had made, and then the ramifications of their decisions. She examines the way that modern women, women who have come of age in the aftermath of the feminist movement of the 70s and 80s, balance the mantra "You can do/be anything that you want" and the traditional family model that most families ascribe to: the man/husband/father is the breadwinner/provider and the woman is the "Good Mother", "Perfect Wife" who stays home with the kids. Orenstein wants to know how do women balance this mantra and the traditional family model, or really, if this balance even exists. Can a woman have a successful career AND family AND be happy and satisfied in both? What kind of sacrifices would need to be made? And does having a family signal a death-knell to a woman's career? I really resonated with this conflict between the mantra "You can do/be anything you want to be" that girls are told growing up and the traditional family model. In this stage of my life, I am a single career woman, who throughout my entire life, has been told that I can do anything that I want to do - and I have believed it! And why shouldn't I believe it? But what really got me was the truth that the odds are set against a woman having a career. I've never really given this much credence, but through the facts and stories that Orenstein presents, there isn't much denying this truth. The working world is a man's world, set up for men to succeed and earn more, while careers that are traditionally held by women are valued much less (think financial analysts earning $120k each year versus teachers who earn $40k at best). Or the fact that women traditionally gravitate towards careers in non-profit organizations - but those organizations pay half what a man would earn in a for-profit organization, even though a non-profit actually works to change people's lives! It makes me angry and disappointed. And then the fact that if a woman does climb the ranks in a career field traditionally populated by men, her career gets derailed if she decides to have a child. Her earning potential instantly drops. Also disheartening is that women who do climb the ranks in this man's world have less sympathy for women who are trying to do the same and make different choices than they do with their life. This was a hard truth and bitter pill to swallow, but if I'm honest with myself, my own career mirrors this. Money is generally not all that important to me, but I do believe that my work should be valued at high dollar, and if I'm honest with myself, I don't believe that it is. Orenstein also explores the family choices that women make - ie, whether or not to have a child, and if so, then when to have it, and then after you have it, who will take care of it and at who's career's expense? While I am not at this stage in life, it was difficult to read about and figure out what decisions would I make. And then the more startling thought was, do I want to even have to make these decisions? Do I want to fall into a traditional family model or do I want my family to look more balanced? Could I work and take care of kids at the same time? Would I want a child so much that I would have one without a husband, like one of the women did in the book? Or will I be 40 and single, a loving and doting "aunt" to my friends' and siblings' children? I can't predict those things now, but needless to say they were all questions that I am still confronting and working through. All in all, I do highly recommend this book. It is hard to read, to look at the lives of all these women and the sacrifices that they have either made or are going to have to make, and whether it is fair in the first place that they even have to make them. The best truth in the book is the woman in the last case study who tells Orenstein to make sure that she tells her readers "It's not easy". Truly, it's not easy for a woman today to negotiate these decisions and choices, but hopefully, it's not impossible either. As I was told once, "Who ever said life was going to be easy"? (*Update - I have to rate this book 5 stars. It's months later and I'm STILL thinking and making decisions based upon stuff from this book. That earns 5 stars in my book.*)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jeannette

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The first part of this is from the thoughts that I wrote in my LiveJournal after reading the first third of the book. I used them because most are still valid. The last bit is my thoughts at the end of the book, which I'm re-writing because Goodreads glitched and lost it. Stupid glitch. The latest Eclectic Reader's book is Flux, by Peggy Orenstein. From a certain aspect I'm enjoying it, because what's not to enjoy about a feminist book on women's life choices? I can totally identify with the idea The first part of this is from the thoughts that I wrote in my LiveJournal after reading the first third of the book. I used them because most are still valid. The last bit is my thoughts at the end of the book, which I'm re-writing because Goodreads glitched and lost it. Stupid glitch. The latest Eclectic Reader's book is Flux, by Peggy Orenstein. From a certain aspect I'm enjoying it, because what's not to enjoy about a feminist book on women's life choices? I can totally identify with the idea of women having to make difficult choices and looking at their futures uncertainly. Seriously, what woman can't? From another aspect though, I'm really frustrated by it - and not in the way I suspect Orenstien was attempting to achieve. Part of it is due to my personal issues, which I should really just get over because it's not like it's the author's fault. Part of it is due to the fact that even with my personal problems and uncertainty, I'm actually happy with my life. I pretty much always have been, except for brief spurts. Even at my most miserable times, I found something to make me happy. I kind of resent someone telling me that my current and future life choices (choosing teaching as my career, wanting to get married and have a family) are second-rate because teaching is a low-paying, female-dominated profession and having a family is a traditionalist thing to do. It is a traditionalist thing to do, but it doesn't have to be done in the Donna Reed traditionalist sense, nor does it have to be limiting or life-ending. I didn't choose teaching because it was easy for a female to succeed on that path. I chose it because I enjoyed it, because I was good at it, because the school which offered me a job also offered to pay me well, because it's rewarding. Does all this sound idealistic yet? Of course, because I am an idealist. I'm not going to pretend that I'm not. But I'm also a special education teacher - a profession that will never go down the tubes, and that will always make good money due to lack of people brave enough. I'm in a great relationship with a man who said, when faced with my concerns, "That won't be a problem." Why does that have to not be good enough? Fortunately for me, Orenstein does address these dreams in a more positive way and provides examples of different women who do "have it all," though they had to make sacrifices to their Donna Reed ideals to do it, or their original career dreams. That makes sense though: life isn't life without sacrifices. I did find it interesting and relieving that she put an emphasis on equality in couples. She doesn't make motherhood the only option though; she also spends time with women who went a different way and how they view their choices and their lives. Overall, I'm glad I read it. As well as making some valid points, it provided a couple of talking points with my boyfriend - conversations that I think we might not have had for a while, otherwise, and which might have gone a different way. So favorite book? No. Interesting read? Yes.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    I first read this book after I had just graduated from law school. I was single and fairly certain that I never wanted to have children. As the book looks at professional women and their choices involving raising families, I felt like it reinforced my belief that it is impossible to have it all, and that having children would only derail what I hoped would be a focused and successful legal career. Years later, the book was still on my shelves. But, this time around, I'd been praticing law for al I first read this book after I had just graduated from law school. I was single and fairly certain that I never wanted to have children. As the book looks at professional women and their choices involving raising families, I felt like it reinforced my belief that it is impossible to have it all, and that having children would only derail what I hoped would be a focused and successful legal career. Years later, the book was still on my shelves. But, this time around, I'd been praticing law for almost 12 years, I had a young son, and plans for more children in the future. I have a husband who supports my career- but who definitely has one of his own. And so, the majority of the child-care falls to me. In many ways, I feel like I am the disappointment that Orenstein predicted in women with professional potential who choose to take time to have children. Re-reading this book while in a completely different place in my life was very interesting. I found it frustrating and almost hopeless - sad to realize that I'd stepped off the competitive career track that I always saw myself on - or maybe sad to realize that I'm the stereotype of the woman who decided that a high-powered legal career wasn't giving me the satisfaction I thought I deserved. While having a family certainly isn't the be-all-end-all, I enjoy it. And I enjoy having a job that I love as opposed to one that other people think that I am supposed to have. I do wonder if it's possible to "have it all" and still get sleep at night. I feel like I've made the right choices for me that have led to more happiness in my career and personal life than I thought I'd ever have, but still feel like it came at the sacrifice of being a trail blazer or making things any easier for the women who come after me - that feeling still gnaws at me often. Other women I've spoken to about this book found it comforting - to know that there are other women who struggle with the same doubts as they do. I found it frustrating - wishing that more people could find a way to have pieces of everything they want, or to be happy in what they have. Mostly, I wish that we could all find a way to feel comfortable in our decisions, and support others who make ones that are not the same as ours - and for those of us that have choices, to appreciate that reality. This is a conversation I think will be going on for decades to come, as women wrestle with what we want and what we are willing to give up to achieve it. This is a great book for sparking debate and serious thought about the life one wants to lead - but getting through it was definitely (for me) no walk in the park.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mary Jo

    This was the best nonfiction book I read in 2011. It’s over 10 years old, but sadly, the world hasn’t changed that much in 10 years to make it irrelevant. In fact, it seemed more relevant than ever, since some big news stories this year have been about “The End of Men” and women surpassing men in numbers graduating from college and graduate school. The books is also about things that I’m very concerned with in my life now: how women make the decisions in their lives about careers, marriage and c This was the best nonfiction book I read in 2011. It’s over 10 years old, but sadly, the world hasn’t changed that much in 10 years to make it irrelevant. In fact, it seemed more relevant than ever, since some big news stories this year have been about “The End of Men” and women surpassing men in numbers graduating from college and graduate school. The books is also about things that I’m very concerned with in my life now: how women make the decisions in their lives about careers, marriage and children. Especially children. Orenstein has a tone of genuine searching in this book. She honestly wants to know how other women manage their daily lives, weigh hard decisions about marriage, children, and jobs, and find meaning. She has some opinions about what she finds, inevitably, but for the most part she is compassionate when she approaches judgement, rather than contributing to any “mommy wars.” She decided to write about this topic because she was personally struggling to decide whether or not to have children; her most recent book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter, is about the eventual result of that decision.The book’s worst flaw is probably its focus on middle- and upper-middle class women, without giving much time to the perspectives of the working class. This is sadly common among white feminists, and has not changed much since this book was published, as other more recent writing on the topic shows. The book’s conclusion seemed to be that men and workplaces need to change to keep up with the changes that women are making or want to make in their lives. Masculinity needs to be defined differently, so that men are ok with being a secondary breadwinner, doing household chores, and providing equal childcare, and people need to see a stay-at-home dad as a normal thing, not a hero or martyr, and hold fathers to the same high standards we have for mothers. Employers need to offer more flexibility for both men and women, fathers need to be offered and actually take a long paternity leave, and part-time work needs to be a more viable option. All of that sounds great to me. I sure hope it all happens someday, before I have a child, like within the next 2 years. Wouldn’t that be nice. For more of my reviews, go to www.mereader.wordpress.com

  22. 5 out of 5

    Trena

    In this very non-scientific social science book, Orenstein interviews women in various life stages about relationships, children, careers, and the uneasy intersections among them. The first section, about early 20s, seemed very dated to me. It seemed like the kind of thing I read around the time I graduated from college. I thought it was kind of terrible and almost stopped reading. But I think the issue was that it just wasn't relevant to my life. When it got to women in their 30s, I found the in In this very non-scientific social science book, Orenstein interviews women in various life stages about relationships, children, careers, and the uneasy intersections among them. The first section, about early 20s, seemed very dated to me. It seemed like the kind of thing I read around the time I graduated from college. I thought it was kind of terrible and almost stopped reading. But I think the issue was that it just wasn't relevant to my life. When it got to women in their 30s, I found the interviews interesting and enlightening. So if you pick this book up, I might recommend starting with the section most relevant to your life and then returning to earlier life phases if it interests you. The "half-changed world" of the title seems to refer to the fact that women's roles have changed dramatically in the workplace, but not the home, and that men's roles haven't changed much in either place. Now, the majority of women have always had to work--the myth of every woman being a housewife in generations past has always been a myth--but Orenstein fairly unapologetically focuses pretty much exclusively on well-educated, high-achieving, mostly high-earning, and almost entirely white women: the type of women who would have been housewives in generations past. So these women's worlds are half-changed. Because of where I am in life, it was helpful to read about transitions, women who never married, women who never had children, and women who ended up focusing on their careers because they didn't really have anything else to focus on and how they feel about everything. If you're not going through a transition or trying to map out your life I don't think the book will speak to you much.

  23. 5 out of 5

    L

    This book attempts to answer the question "Can I have it all?" by following professional women at different stages of their lives and careers (20s, 30s, 40s, 50s). Unfortunately, it is not a longitudinal study and there is only anectdotal information, but there are some interesting anectdotes. Few women seem to succesfully "have it all" (both career and family) and those that do seem to make substantial compromises along the way; however most seem relatively comfortable with their choices. I fou This book attempts to answer the question "Can I have it all?" by following professional women at different stages of their lives and careers (20s, 30s, 40s, 50s). Unfortunately, it is not a longitudinal study and there is only anectdotal information, but there are some interesting anectdotes. Few women seem to succesfully "have it all" (both career and family) and those that do seem to make substantial compromises along the way; however most seem relatively comfortable with their choices. I found this book both inspiring and depressing in the sense that I wanted a shortcut or methodology to follow to figure out how women had successfully managed both career and family, and found that this book didn't necessarily present either. It did, however, provide some anectdotal information regarding expectations, compromise, and at least a few examples of success. I found it enlightening and have recommended it to many colleagues. However, I have found that many of my SAHM/part-time employee friends found it insulting or, at least, did not get as much out of it as I did.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Briana

    this is a great book for any woman who is introspective about what she wants from her life (frankly, I don't know one woman who doesn't). orstein interviews women from their 20's-40's about their experiences of making decisions in what she calls 'a half changed world'. at times, the book be annnoying in that the women in their 20's are a bit obnoxious in their contradictions and then the seemingly 'you can never really have it all' conundrum highlighted in the stories of women in their 30's... h this is a great book for any woman who is introspective about what she wants from her life (frankly, I don't know one woman who doesn't). orstein interviews women from their 20's-40's about their experiences of making decisions in what she calls 'a half changed world'. at times, the book be annnoying in that the women in their 20's are a bit obnoxious in their contradictions and then the seemingly 'you can never really have it all' conundrum highlighted in the stories of women in their 30's... however, things do begin to look up for women in their 40's (at least as is presented by Ornstein). really, what saved me from having this book turn into a neurotic focal point was the ending... Ornstein ends the book on a note of power - that we (men and woman alike) can't necessarily change the world, but that we do have the power to make decisions that will empower us to live as equals even if society isn't entirely there.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    I found this book to be comforting, inspiring, and thought-provoking. So many of the sections and stories felt personally relevant. I read this along with one of my girlfriends, and probably stuck a post-it flag on about every other page, marking statements or passages that really resonated with me that I wanted to remember to discuss. I think this is such an empowering and enlightening book for women, and I'd venture to say that husbands and fathers might gain some helpful insights from it as we I found this book to be comforting, inspiring, and thought-provoking. So many of the sections and stories felt personally relevant. I read this along with one of my girlfriends, and probably stuck a post-it flag on about every other page, marking statements or passages that really resonated with me that I wanted to remember to discuss. I think this is such an empowering and enlightening book for women, and I'd venture to say that husbands and fathers might gain some helpful insights from it as well. This book shed new light on some of my past decisions and some of my worries for the future. If you are a woman navigating your way through your career, motherhood, friendships, and/or love, or you want to better support a woman in your life doing the same, then I highly recommend this book!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Susan Bazzett-Griffith

    Peggy Orenstein's Flux is another great overview of the state of womanhood in America, and how women are impacted by our society's warped expectations of "having it all" in a society that doesn't support them in doing so. Orenstein speaks to women in various phases of life about the choice of staying single vs. traditional marriage in order to climb their career ladders, about remaining child-free versus having children, about developing their own definitions of success and about redefining gend Peggy Orenstein's Flux is another great overview of the state of womanhood in America, and how women are impacted by our society's warped expectations of "having it all" in a society that doesn't support them in doing so. Orenstein speaks to women in various phases of life about the choice of staying single vs. traditional marriage in order to climb their career ladders, about remaining child-free versus having children, about developing their own definitions of success and about redefining gender roles. Orenstein dives into the psyches of several specific women and weaves their personal stories with research about women's success (or lack thereof) in several male-dominated fields of work. Overall, this book is well-written, highly interesting to read due to its narrative about specific individuals, and important in its points made. Four stars.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Annita

    I read Orenstein's Flux in a time of Flux! I had two children under the age of three and I thought I was never going to have control over anything again. (this remains true). I had left the workforce, an was fortunate to be part of a stable marriage, had good savings to rely upon, my education was completed and the financial picture above average. On top of it, i had a strong network of friends with children who were active and engaged in community and events. At the time, the book was reassurin I read Orenstein's Flux in a time of Flux! I had two children under the age of three and I thought I was never going to have control over anything again. (this remains true). I had left the workforce, an was fortunate to be part of a stable marriage, had good savings to rely upon, my education was completed and the financial picture above average. On top of it, i had a strong network of friends with children who were active and engaged in community and events. At the time, the book was reassuring about my concerns regarding leaving the workforce, the lack of technology to support working from home and the rare Stay at Home Dad option. Despite confirming the biggest issues facing women, as told by women in different situations the book lacked solutions. Today, one might combine Marriage Shock (by Heyn) and Flux as a good start for research on these types of topics.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    This was a well-researched book that I found interestingly current despite the fact that it's ten years old. That said, though, both the theme of the book and the writing itself seemed kind of old-hat - ie that women have really similar problems that stretch through multiple generations. Nice that Orenstein gives examples of kind of 'alternative' lifestyles and further delves into how they might not be that alternative anyway. I think it could have stated the same information in a much shorter b This was a well-researched book that I found interestingly current despite the fact that it's ten years old. That said, though, both the theme of the book and the writing itself seemed kind of old-hat - ie that women have really similar problems that stretch through multiple generations. Nice that Orenstein gives examples of kind of 'alternative' lifestyles and further delves into how they might not be that alternative anyway. I think it could have stated the same information in a much shorter book, though. Not that it was long, I just found myself feeling like I'd read paragraphs that had just stated the same thing a few pages prior. Brought up some good points and questions, though, certainly, and I like that she interviewed women in different stages of their lives.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Thought this book would help me find some direction... it didn't. Instead, it highlighted that women today have many many choices. And some of them will be right and some will be wrong for any given woman - there is no single right path, we each must find our own. Some will prioritize career over family and that will be the right thing for them; for others it will be wrong. Some will prioritize family over career - and again, that will work for some and make others miserable. While those are the Thought this book would help me find some direction... it didn't. Instead, it highlighted that women today have many many choices. And some of them will be right and some will be wrong for any given woman - there is no single right path, we each must find our own. Some will prioritize career over family and that will be the right thing for them; for others it will be wrong. Some will prioritize family over career - and again, that will work for some and make others miserable. While those are the big two, there are many other variables and, well, choices. We are so lucky. But sometimes that luck is a little overwhelming...

  30. 4 out of 5

    Chrissy

    A lot of focus has been placed on where women CAN be, now that we live in a post-women's movement world, and yet not much has been written addressing where women ARE. This was a fascinating, personal take on the many different paths women take nowadays and the potential successes and pitfalls of each. Yes, the focus was very much on the middle- to upper-class segment of the population, but overall, it shows how the commonalities of women's experiences outweigh the differences. The demented press A lot of focus has been placed on where women CAN be, now that we live in a post-women's movement world, and yet not much has been written addressing where women ARE. This was a fascinating, personal take on the many different paths women take nowadays and the potential successes and pitfalls of each. Yes, the focus was very much on the middle- to upper-class segment of the population, but overall, it shows how the commonalities of women's experiences outweigh the differences. The demented pressure that women find themselves suffocating under affects everyone, from the stay-at-home mom of four to the single, childfree executive.

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