on 18 February 2002
This book is gutsy and painfully honest. It confronts us with the reasons why marriage today is usually a much better deal for men than for women - reasons that all women know, deep down, but won't, or can't admit for fear of shattering the "equality illusion" that many of us live with in our marriages.
The author goes beyond the kinds of unfairness and disillusionment wives and in particular new mothers experience as identified e.g. by Naomi Wolf in "Misconceptions". Susan Maushart points out again and again that it's not just the lion's share of the housework and childcare that women are doing (which we all know anyway), but also what she calls the emotionally taxing "wifework" - being responsible for the husband's emotional needs, the whole family's social calendar, the whole concept of homemaking, etc.
My favourite part of the book - or, I should say, the thing that made me stop and think the most, was the part where she describes the increased amount of free time she had after divorcing her husband and becoming the single parent to three very small children. You would have thought that the opposite would be true, but when she she was no longer responsible for all that "wifework", the burden on her was considerably lessened.
Indeed, even if you're happily married with children, the book makes you think about how expendable your spouse may actually be, and why. And it makes you ask yourself why intelligent women are willing to put up with so much unfairness in our relationships - it makes you take your rose-coloured glasses off and re-evaluate what is "fair".
I wholeheartedly recommend this book, but caution that it will be an eye-opening and not altogether painless read for those of us "in denial".
on 30 May 2002
I recently went from being a single mum to being a married mum. Foolishly I thought this would be a good deal for me. Someone to help me around the home, to share the childcare with, to make me the odd cuppa whilst I'm breastfeeding!! But ironically I find myself with more work to do than ever. Why? Wifework, is the answer that Susan Maushart gives and she's right on the money. It's painfully honest and takes the thoughts straight out of my head. She argues that whilst feminism has increased our expectations the reality is severely lagging behind. Sad but true. I mean, I love my man I really do but if only he would pick up the sodding hoover!!
on 26 November 2011
Although this book is interesting in places, overall I found it rather tedious and a bit of a slog to get through. I don't disagree with some of her points, but I do feel that she has a very negative view of life and this gets in the way of what could be a great book. Her marriages don't have very many similar points to my own; maybe the Modern Man and hands-on dad really has arrived since the publication of this book, but we share childcare and housework in my home.