Flux: Women on Sex, Work, Love, Kids, and Life in a Half-Changed World by Peggy Orenstein, Alice Van Straalen (Editor)
Peggy Orensteinís 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 womenís 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.
Peggy Orenstein is a regular contributor to The New York Times Magazine, and her work has also appeared in many other publications.
Drawing on interviews she conducted with more than 200 women, Orenstein (SchoolGirls: Young Women, Self-Esteem, and the Confidence Gap) presents an intimate and politically astute vision of how women in their 20s, 30s and 40s negotiate life in a world only half-changed by feminism. Divided into three parts--"The Promise," about women in their 20s exploring relationships and beginning working life; "The Crunch," about women in their 30s confronting issues of children and family; and "The Reconsideration," about women in their 40s reassessing what they want for themselves--the book is peppered with absorbing in-depth portraits that show how individual women manage their relationships and careers, singledom and marriage. Many of the older women Orenstein interviewed hold jobs that were unthinkable 30 years ago--(e.g., corporate vice-presidents and financial officers). What hasn't changed enough, however, are their working environments and the men in their lives. Though the women want successful careers, they still pressure themselves to be perfectly attentive wives and mothers who shoulder the bulk of the housekeeping and child rearing. Yet these women's focus on trying to Have It All paradoxically reinforces the dichotomy between family and career; for true equality, men need to balance home and work just as much as women do. Unlike many self-help books, Orenstein's balances coping strategies with sharp political points: for true equality in relationships and fairness to women, "more men have to take full responsibility at home," and "women also have to let them"; more important, the workplace must adjust to the needs of all employees who are parents. Orenstein believes women will profit by sharing their experiences across generations; this rigorous and appealing book should jumpstart the conversation. (June) FYI: Orenstein has a two-year jump on Susan Faludi, who will cover the same territory in a book recently sold to Metropolitan Books for publication in 2002