counter create hit For Her Own Good: Two Centuries of the Experts' Advice to Women - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

For Her Own Good: Two Centuries of the Experts' Advice to Women

Availability: Ready to download

First published in 1978, this classic history, now revised and updated, brilliantly exposes the constraints imposed on women in the name of science. Authors Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English have never lost faith in science itself, but insist that we hold those who interpret it to higher standards. Women are entering the medical and scientific professions in greater n First published in 1978, this classic history, now revised and updated, brilliantly exposes the constraints imposed on women in the name of science. Authors Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English have never lost faith in science itself, but insist that we hold those who interpret it to higher standards. Women are entering the medical and scientific professions in greater numbers but as recent research shows, experts continue to use pseudoscience to tell women how to live. This edition of For Her Own Good provides today's readers with an indispensable dose of informed skepticism.


Compare
Ads Banner

First published in 1978, this classic history, now revised and updated, brilliantly exposes the constraints imposed on women in the name of science. Authors Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English have never lost faith in science itself, but insist that we hold those who interpret it to higher standards. Women are entering the medical and scientific professions in greater n First published in 1978, this classic history, now revised and updated, brilliantly exposes the constraints imposed on women in the name of science. Authors Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English have never lost faith in science itself, but insist that we hold those who interpret it to higher standards. Women are entering the medical and scientific professions in greater numbers but as recent research shows, experts continue to use pseudoscience to tell women how to live. This edition of For Her Own Good provides today's readers with an indispensable dose of informed skepticism.

30 review for For Her Own Good: Two Centuries of the Experts' Advice to Women

  1. 5 out of 5

    Wealhtheow

    Ehrenreich and English look at what kind of advice we've been given for the last two hundred years. Although they provide a good deal of social, political, economic, and general background to the development and evolution of experts, the part I found most fascinating was on the creation of what we consider medical doctors. I hadn't realized how culturally specific, oft-changing, and purposefully created our modern conception of medicine is. For instance, the cultural ancestors of modern doctors Ehrenreich and English look at what kind of advice we've been given for the last two hundred years. Although they provide a good deal of social, political, economic, and general background to the development and evolution of experts, the part I found most fascinating was on the creation of what we consider medical doctors. I hadn't realized how culturally specific, oft-changing, and purposefully created our modern conception of medicine is. For instance, the cultural ancestors of modern doctors were just dudes who had enough money and class status to go to university and learn classical languages. They never learned anatomy or how to treat illnesses in any evidence-based manner. In fact, to maintain their status as "gentlemen," they didn't touch their patients (instead leaving the dispensing of medicines, bone-setting, childbirth, etc to others) or receive payment for their services (they were instead given "gifts"). But given that their medical knowledge was entirely based in classical literature, they were not particularly helpful. Instead, most people used what we now term folk-medicine (practiced by a healer in their area), which *was* mostly evidence-based and very much in line with modern conceptions of medicine (understandings of anatomy, palpating the lymph nodes, knowing what the patient ate, what their stools looked like, etc). But "regular" doctors had the rich on their side, so when science and the scientific method began to gain credence, they were able to lay claim to science first, while simultaneously suing to have all doctors who didn't go to their specific universities be considered criminals if they practiced medicine. It worked! Oh classism. And thus, for the next hundred years or so, the UK and US were left with doctors who had a very narrow understanding of what to look for to judge health. Mental state, nutrition, environment...all of this fell by the way-side. Ehrenreich and English also talk a bit about how various credentials came to be and the double-binds created by psychologists for women. And don't think women were martyred saints, either--white, middle and upper class women were instrumental in all sorts of bs movements to "improve" the poor and minority groups. Overall, a good read, with nuggets of biting sarcasm to match the facts and anecdotes.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mickey Schulz

    Ok, as if being a woman in this society didn't already make you angry at the medical establishment and how they treat women and women's concerns, this book will infuriate you. However, it is highly useful to see where these attitudes come from that are still prevalent in how medical professionals today treat women. From being dismissed as hysteric, to branding something a syndrome without ever trying to get to the bottom of it, to pathologizing the experience of being a woman. Great book, really Ok, as if being a woman in this society didn't already make you angry at the medical establishment and how they treat women and women's concerns, this book will infuriate you. However, it is highly useful to see where these attitudes come from that are still prevalent in how medical professionals today treat women. From being dismissed as hysteric, to branding something a syndrome without ever trying to get to the bottom of it, to pathologizing the experience of being a woman. Great book, really informative, I highly recommend it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Karen Powell

    Ehrenreich put together a very comprehensive, well-researched book on the effect of "expert" advice on women over a two-hundred-year span. The chronicle is both hilarious and frightening. We see women being celebrated as frail, delicate creatures whose reproductive organs are the source of every illness... then later women are descended upon by psychologists and deemed too dangerous to run a family, having penis envy and ambition compelling them to kill their children. Mothers were considered th Ehrenreich put together a very comprehensive, well-researched book on the effect of "expert" advice on women over a two-hundred-year span. The chronicle is both hilarious and frightening. We see women being celebrated as frail, delicate creatures whose reproductive organs are the source of every illness... then later women are descended upon by psychologists and deemed too dangerous to run a family, having penis envy and ambition compelling them to kill their children. Mothers were considered the heart of the home for their childrearing powers, then considered too weak to raise their own sons. It's enough to make a woman never buy a self-help book again.[return][return]It's amazing to see how much the woman's role has changed in two centuries. Before machines became a way of life, women had a lot of work to do. Surprisingly, we learn that housecleaning was low on the list. It wasn't until the the 20th century where women's boredom and advertisers met to compel a frenzy for housecleaning. Early women were too busy making all their home's supplies. When all of women's traditional work was being taken over by factories, and their healing knowledge taken away by men, the Woman Question arrived. With so little to do, what was a woman's role in society? What was her contribution to her household? Early feminists argued that women were reduced to glorified prostitutes, with their skills and knowledge taken away. The Woman Question is one that was debated until the feminists exploded into the 1960s and '70s.[return][return]At this point, after the women's rights movement of the '70s, Ehrenreich falters a bit when describing the "Let's think about me, now" attitude of women who eschewed a husband and kids for a childfree life. She paints these as selfish people obsessed with money and free time. True, many women feeling stifled under the confines of traditional society would start thinking of their own needs in a manner considered "selfish" after centuries of thinking solely of their family's comfort. Ehrenreich seems to think that the advice of earlier "experts" who encouraged permissiveness went too far and made child-haters of these women. On the contrary, the childfree movement that stemmed from modern feminism is all about the choice to have children. Since Ehrenreich clearly approves of abortion in her writing, it is strange that she gets a little touchy over the choice to be a mother or not. Since the author is pro-choice, she may not have thought out the connection to those who abstain from childrearing entirely, and how they must fight charges of selfishness just as those who get an abortion fight charges of being a "murderer." I wonder if Ehrenreich, being a mother, is aghast at how feminism inspired future generations of women to live a childfree life.[return][return]Other than that criticism, I found the book a valuable source of information. I want to wave it under the nose of every person who thinks the feminist movement was a mistake. I want to yell at them, "Do you know where these doctors would put leeches on a woman because her husband could drag her in to a doctors office for an attitude adjustment? Think of a place only her gynecologist would see - that's where they put those leeches!" But, as Ehrenreich points out, there are many people who buy into the romance of the woman invalid, the lobotomized housewife, and sheltered female who never has to make an important decision. Some may find this a blissful life, but as history proves, it's not necessarily a healthy one for women.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Seven

    gender roles are social constructs.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    For Her Own Good is a historical survey of the many ways in which women have been told what to do “for their own good” by experts (usually middle-class white men) over the past two hundred years. The book includes sections on medicine, female health and sickness, homemaking, and child-rearing, each one meticulously researched and extensively annotated. The authors' basic argument is that women have predominantly been viewed as incompetent to make their own decisions – even when it comes to their For Her Own Good is a historical survey of the many ways in which women have been told what to do “for their own good” by experts (usually middle-class white men) over the past two hundred years. The book includes sections on medicine, female health and sickness, homemaking, and child-rearing, each one meticulously researched and extensively annotated. The authors' basic argument is that women have predominantly been viewed as incompetent to make their own decisions – even when it comes to their own bodies, their families, and their livelihoods – without the intervention of professional experts. Furthermore, these experts have relied on the authority of science to convince women that the experts' misogynistic prejudices are actually objective, proven fact. One of the most interesting sections in the book was about how, starting in the 1700s, men co-opted the practice of medicine from women, who, through their activities as midwives and lay healers, had been their families' and communities' primary healers for centuries – in fact, healing was viewed as part of the whole package of child-rearing and running a household. Then, with the rise of professionalization, distinct academic disciplines, the capitalist market, and other factors, men began to take over medicine as a gentlemanly, aristocratic profession. However, whereas the female lay healers had relied on the transmission of tried and true medical information from one generation to the next (such as folk wisdom concerning the healing properties of particular herbs and natural substances), the male professional doctors discredited this evidence-based tradition and began inflicting a variety of horrific, un-scientific, and dangerous “cures” on a gullible and trusting populace. In many cases, the so-called cure was far worse than the original disease, as in the case of a poison called calomel, which medical men commonly prescribed for ailments as minor as fever and stomachache and whose side effects included the erosion of the patient's teeth and jaw bone. Most disturbing of all, the doctors were usually aware that these “cures” were painful and ineffectual, but peddled them anyway as a money-making scheme. In order to keep the new medical profession selective and exclusive, the doctors went on a woman-bashing spree to discredit the much more liked and trusted female lay healers who saw healing as a community activity rather than a generator of wealth and who actually relied on observation and experiment to arrive at cures that truly worked. This was one of the most vivid instances of male “experts” (I use quotes because these medical men were mostly quacks and not experts in anything, but they saw themselves that way) telling women how things should be done, especially in a domain that had traditionally belonged to women to start with and which they had successfully managed without male intervention for generations. There is no doubt that the authors did their research while writing this book. In fact, I would say that the book read almost a bit too much like an academic paper and could have been made more accessible to the casual reader. Nearly every page was crammed with long quotes and references, and there were a few times when the authors dug so deep into a specific issue that I had to read the back cover to remind myself what the overall argument of the book was. The authors must have realized this when they made revisions for the latest edition of the book (the first edition was published in the 70s), because they added a new chapter that was a good summary of their argument and helped to give it some context, as well as some new information on how this trend has played out in the early 21st century. I also felt a little uncertain about the authors' thesis. I wholeheartedly agree that paternalistic, bigoted men have no business telling women how to live their lives, especially through the deception of passing off personal opinion or small-mindedness as scientific fact. However, the authors seemed to be anti-all-experts rather than anti-bad-experts. It was a bit hard to tell what the authors believed at all, since the book was only a historical review of these types of trends and not really their defense of a different point of view. They made a few comments that indicated they felt nostalgic for a time when women raised their children with the help of other knowledgeable and loving women -- mothers, grandmothers, sisters, neighbors, etc. -- and didn't need to jump every time the (most likely male) pediatrician or child psychologist said jump. I can see where they're coming from, and I do think it's unfortunate how isolated and self-contained most families are today, but I think that's a separate issue from whether to rely on experts or not. I'm sure that in the 1800s, listening to the advice of a friendly midwife, whose mother had taught her everything about the healing properties of local plants, was a wise course of action, especially given the alternatives. But medicine today -- despite all its problems -- is far better and more effective than herbal tea and prayer, even if the person delivering such medicine is not as friendly or caring as a frontier midwife. I have no patience with "alternative" medicine that hearkens back to a time when such flimsy folk remedies were all we had access to; when I'm in pain, give me an expert. My last comment relates to the editing of this book. I am not the type of person who foams at the mouth every time I see a grammatical or editing mistake, although I do notice such mistakes whether I want to or not. But when I'm reading a book – especially a scholarly book that the authors want us to take seriously and that has been thoroughly and professionally edited no less than twice (once for each edition), I find no excuse for sloppy, distracting mistakes. Here's the way I see it: let's say you have a deep love of and knowledge of music and are proficient at playing an instrument or two. You recognize that the technical aspects of music, such as the different values of notes and rests and so on, are not the “soul” of music – they are not why you enjoy listening to a sonata. Nevertheless, if the musician doesn't understand the way these mechanics work – if they botch the length of a quarter note, for example – you will not only notice it, but it will mar what would otherwise be a beautiful work of art. It goes from being music to being notes that are not well-played, and it spoils your enjoyment. That's how I feel about grammar in relation to language and reading. Obviously, proper spelling, punctuation, and syntax are not the “soul” of language any more than individual notes are the “soul” of music. But if you use language inexpertly by misunderstanding the purpose of a comma or botching the construction of a sentence, you have taken a thing of beauty and made it unpleasant. So let's just say someone should have read For Her Own Good more carefully before sending it to the printer.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    I absolutely loved Witches, Midwives and Nurses, so I thought this would be an expanded version of that. And it's true that For Her Own Good was full of interesting facts. But somehow, when I was done, I felt like I couldn't really summarize much of interest in a few words. In fact, I was quite relieved to be done so I could move on to some light fiction -- although the book was full of interesting, often shocking, facts, reading it almost felt like homework by the end. I did dog-ear a couple of I absolutely loved Witches, Midwives and Nurses, so I thought this would be an expanded version of that. And it's true that For Her Own Good was full of interesting facts. But somehow, when I was done, I felt like I couldn't really summarize much of interest in a few words. In fact, I was quite relieved to be done so I could move on to some light fiction -- although the book was full of interesting, often shocking, facts, reading it almost felt like homework by the end. I did dog-ear a couple of interesting quotes from the book: A quote from an 1830s Grahamian on p. 61 (alas, the Grahamians -- proponents of vegetarianism and health food stores -- didn't gain much traction...) "Any system that, of itself, creates a privileged class who can by law, or otherwise, lord it over their fellow men, destroys true freedom and personal autonomy. Any system that teaches the sick that they can get well only through the exercise of the skill of someone else, and that they remain alive only through the tender mercies of the privileged class, has no place in nature's scheme of things, and the sooner it is abolished, the better will mankind be." I found the following descriptions by a man named Watson especially hilarious (pp. 224 & 225). He was writing in the 1920s: "The ideal child, he wrote, is, 'a child who never cries unless actually stuck by a pin, illustratively speaking...who soon builds up a wealth of habits that tides him over dark and rainy days -- who puts on such habits of politeness and neatness and cleanliness that adults are willing to be around him at least part of the day ... who eats what is set before him -- who sleeps and rests when put to bed for sleep and rest -- who puts away two year old habits when the third year has to be faced ...'" and this: "There is a sensible way of treating children. Treat them as though they were young adults. Dress them, bathe them with care and circumspection. Let your behavior always be objective and kindly firm. Never hug and kiss them, never let them sit on your lap. If you must, kiss them once on the forehead when they say good night. Shake hands with them in the morning. ..." I love trying to picture my friends with two year olds shaking their kids' hands in the morning.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Carrie Kellenberger

    An eye-opening and very informative account of how women have been treated over the past two centuries in the medical industry. Ehrenreich takes us through the history of the establishment of the medical industry, how to raise children, how feminism changed and adapted over the centuries, and up to modern society and how women are viewed. There are sections on female health, the 'rise of sick and languishing women', how they were treated, the creation of home economics and its importance, how to An eye-opening and very informative account of how women have been treated over the past two centuries in the medical industry. Ehrenreich takes us through the history of the establishment of the medical industry, how to raise children, how feminism changed and adapted over the centuries, and up to modern society and how women are viewed. There are sections on female health, the 'rise of sick and languishing women', how they were treated, the creation of home economics and its importance, how to rear children and suggestions suggestions on how to be the perfect wife, and more. All of it is annotated and researched with a giant footnote section in the end to refer to. For Her Own Good: Two Centuries of Experts' Advice to Women demonstrates how attitudes towards women in the health industry started and how these attitudes have remained. These biases are still well and thriving in the medical industry today. From looking at how the medical establishment was created (upper class white men who had money to go to university, but did not study anatomy or how to treat illnesses) to how midwives were vilified, removed, and replaced by men with no knowledge of female anatomy to male doctors dismissing women as hysterical and 'doctors' who specialized in the 'psychologically abnormal' experience of being a woman - this book will hit a lot of nerves! For a book that was first published in 1978, this book has aged fairly well. Very informative and a great read. Best Takeaway Fact "With a patriarchal self-confidence that had almost no further need of instruments, techniques, medications, Osler wrote: If a poor lass, paralyzed apparently, helpless, bed-ridden for years, comes to me, having worn out in mind, body, and estate a devoted family; if she in a few weeks or less by faith in me, and faith alone, takes up her bed and walks, the saints of old could not have done more... ~Sir William Osler Now at last the medical profession had arrived at a method of faith-healing potent enough to compare with women's traditional healing - but one which was decisively masculine. It did not require a nurturant attitude, nor long hours by the patient's bedside. In fact, with the new style of healing, the less time a doctor spends with a patient, and the fewer questions he permits, the greater his powers would seem to be."

  8. 5 out of 5

    kat

    Actually super interesting, if impossible to summarize to anyone who casually asks "so what are you reading?" without their eyes glazing over. A tour de force through the history of the medical establishment, capitalism, psychiatry, child-rearing, feminism and modern society in general that draws a lot of really interesting connections.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jaclynn

    Well documented history of how the medical industry has ignored, mismanaged and abused women. Relevant, this is still happening today! If I wasn't currently taking a Women's Studies course load I would have found the book more interesting. I found the writing stale, textbook style and cumbersome. I think it has a lot of important information and is a valuable read but it was dull in its presentation.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Charlene

    I read this as an undergraduate in college. Away from home and in the company of other women who were passionate about learning, I saw the world open up to me. Reading this book (alongside other books such as Barbara Walker's The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, Anything in Virginia Woolf's collection, Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique, and others) I became extremely aware of the women who fought so hard so that someday I could have an education and the possibility of equality in m I read this as an undergraduate in college. Away from home and in the company of other women who were passionate about learning, I saw the world open up to me. Reading this book (alongside other books such as Barbara Walker's The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, Anything in Virginia Woolf's collection, Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique, and others) I became extremely aware of the women who fought so hard so that someday I could have an education and the possibility of equality in my own society. I remember losing sleep over what I read in the pages of this book. It was shocking and horrifying. And yet, it felt like the biggest gift anyone had ever given up to that point in life. I felt something click inside me. I felt aware of my own power for the first time. This book will always hold a special place in my heart. I do wonder what I would think of it if I read it now, so many year later.

  11. 5 out of 5

    ONTD Feminism

    LJ user pachakuti's review: One of those books that puts into stark reality how patronizing and riddled with errors and judgement the 'advice' given to women over two centuries of American history has been. They look at the medical industry as a whole as well as psychology and child-rearing as a whole. LJ user pachakuti's review: One of those books that puts into stark reality how patronizing and riddled with errors and judgement the 'advice' given to women over two centuries of American history has been. They look at the medical industry as a whole as well as psychology and child-rearing as a whole.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    Finally! Interesting history of the practice of medicine and treatment of women. As a result, "The Yellow Wallpaper" and "Mrs. Dalloway" have new meaning. I know why we were constantly have tea parties in home ec class and more understanding for the airs put on by my teacher. I always thought Freud was twisted. The end is - the woman question really is - that the human values that women were assigned to preserve expand out of the confines of private life and become the organizing principles of socie Finally! Interesting history of the practice of medicine and treatment of women. As a result, "The Yellow Wallpaper" and "Mrs. Dalloway" have new meaning. I know why we were constantly have tea parties in home ec class and more understanding for the airs put on by my teacher. I always thought Freud was twisted. The end is - the woman question really is - that the human values that women were assigned to preserve expand out of the confines of private life and become the organizing principles of society. A society that is organized around human neds: a society in which child raising is not dismissed as each woman's individual problem, but in which the nuturance and well-being of all children is a public priority - a society in which healing is not a commodity distributed according toi the dictates of profit but is integral to the network of community life - in which wisdom about daily life is not hoarded by experts or doled out as a commodity but is drawn from the experience of all people and freely shared among them. The womanly values of community and caring must rise to the center as the only human principles.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    I enjoy Ehrenreich and her ideas about life and work. In this book she gives a research-filled history of how women were seen by medical doctors, psychologists, men, ad agencies, and employers. It's almost vulgar to think of of frailty and sickness were sought-after traits in an upper-class woman. It's fascinating to see how advice on things like femininity, child-bearing and child-rearing has changed. Expert "opinions" aimed at women have largely been based on false assumptions and quackery. Th I enjoy Ehrenreich and her ideas about life and work. In this book she gives a research-filled history of how women were seen by medical doctors, psychologists, men, ad agencies, and employers. It's almost vulgar to think of of frailty and sickness were sought-after traits in an upper-class woman. It's fascinating to see how advice on things like femininity, child-bearing and child-rearing has changed. Expert "opinions" aimed at women have largely been based on false assumptions and quackery. This books takes you through many of them. I found it fascinating, angering, and even a little eye-opening. I finished this book feeling grateful that I have enough power in my life to make my own choices.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Adrienne

    What an infuriating book! It was well-written and seemingly well-researched. The infuriation didn't come from the writing but by the crap that they unearthed and portrayed. The thesis of the book can be found in the afterward, essentially that the Women Question isn't what is wrong with us, or how should we deal with us/ourselves, but instead how can we change the society so the roles and norms for women don't constrain and appear to be so one-size fits all. What was interesting was that through What an infuriating book! It was well-written and seemingly well-researched. The infuriation didn't come from the writing but by the crap that they unearthed and portrayed. The thesis of the book can be found in the afterward, essentially that the Women Question isn't what is wrong with us, or how should we deal with us/ourselves, but instead how can we change the society so the roles and norms for women don't constrain and appear to be so one-size fits all. What was interesting was that through the ages women have been considered: gentile, naive, in need of protection, masochistic, ignorant, at-fault, and a host of other things at both ends of the spectrum.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

    This book made me so very angry, which I think was the point. How can anyone read what was believed by experts a mere 40 years ago and not have a complete rage aneurysm, especially since so many people are convinced that sexism and misogyny are behind us, or perhaps never existed at all? It definitely focused on white, middle/upper middle class women, which is part the subject matter (the "experts" were probably most concerned with advising this group) but was also really distracting at times, s This book made me so very angry, which I think was the point. How can anyone read what was believed by experts a mere 40 years ago and not have a complete rage aneurysm, especially since so many people are convinced that sexism and misogyny are behind us, or perhaps never existed at all? It definitely focused on white, middle/upper middle class women, which is part the subject matter (the "experts" were probably most concerned with advising this group) but was also really distracting at times, since the experience of poor women and women of color was in the book peripherally, and I found myself wanting to know more, in the context of the subject matter.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    I treated this book as an artifact of second wave feminism (originally published 1976) so I took it's perspective and all its lack of discussion of diversity with a grain of salt. A few glaring spelling errors (Johns Hopkins not John Hopkins) and some grammatical snafus aside, this was a three star book that I learned a lot from. I enjoyed the chapters on medicine more than those on domestic science but that is my own bias speaking. The afterword was the most disappointing part. Written in 2004 I treated this book as an artifact of second wave feminism (originally published 1976) so I took it's perspective and all its lack of discussion of diversity with a grain of salt. A few glaring spelling errors (Johns Hopkins not John Hopkins) and some grammatical snafus aside, this was a three star book that I learned a lot from. I enjoyed the chapters on medicine more than those on domestic science but that is my own bias speaking. The afterword was the most disappointing part. Written in 2004 this failed to address issues relevant to non middle class college educated white women. To me that took it down to a two star book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Julie Mickens

    A classic of women's history. Written in the 1970s, there's a wealth of fascinating information that's still too far from common knowledge. As both history and feminist advocacy, it stands up well today. Plus, Ehrenreich is just a great writer, one of our best at bridging the divide between academic and popular prose styles. She distills volumes of fact and theory into an entertaining and even funny narrative. Even so, Ehrenreich remains scholarly, never sloppy. And finally, unlike some works of A classic of women's history. Written in the 1970s, there's a wealth of fascinating information that's still too far from common knowledge. As both history and feminist advocacy, it stands up well today. Plus, Ehrenreich is just a great writer, one of our best at bridging the divide between academic and popular prose styles. She distills volumes of fact and theory into an entertaining and even funny narrative. Even so, Ehrenreich remains scholarly, never sloppy. And finally, unlike some works of history, this isn't just one fact after another. Instead, it's a cohesive history of ideas and intellectual movements, and an important revisionist look at the same.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Robynne

    An excellent examination of advice literature on "the woman question" over the past two centuries. The focus is largely on white middle-class women, understandably in many ways because this was the group that was the focus of the literature examined. This revised edition (2005 vs. 1978) does try to consider race and class in some ways, but would have benefitted from a bit more focus on that. Even so, the strong feminist analysis and focussed feminist commentary in the afterward shine a light on An excellent examination of advice literature on "the woman question" over the past two centuries. The focus is largely on white middle-class women, understandably in many ways because this was the group that was the focus of the literature examined. This revised edition (2005 vs. 1978) does try to consider race and class in some ways, but would have benefitted from a bit more focus on that. Even so, the strong feminist analysis and focussed feminist commentary in the afterward shine a light on the minefield that was advice for and about women by an ever-growing field of experts. 4.5 stars.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Maggie

    It was a little dry but reading some of the advice "experts" used to force on women was enraging. My first question for them would be "How long have you hated women?" Some of the advice from gynecologists from the 1950s and 60s is similar from what I have heard from one in the past 5 years. It's also the reason why I'm not her patient any more.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Paige

    OMG! Barbara Ehrenreich (and Dierdre English!!)!! If I had read this before Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, I don't know if I would have given that one 5 stars, knowing that you'd already done something like this! Excellent. OMG! Barbara Ehrenreich (and Dierdre English!!)!! If I had read this before Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, I don't know if I would have given that one 5 stars, knowing that you'd already done something like this! Excellent.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sam Hilliard

    As always Ehrenreich's research is as thorough as her rather disturbing exploration of unspoken legacy in American society: the history of professionals deliberately trying to dictate the behavior of women. It’s a heavy subject, and best digested in parts. But if you can follow her elegant--yet very clear--reasoning, you might never see the medical profession the same way again.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Jaw dropping in the same way many topics exploring women's health often re, this really helped me understand my mother and grandmothers attitude toward doctors and health much better, and it opened my eyes to the many ways in which this kind of advice is still being dispensed today.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Six stars! This book was SO GOOD. The authors lay out the time line and stick the pin in right where we are. This is why you feel so confused. This is why it seems like things aren't quite right. An important read for every woman.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    Though the title would more appropriately be For Her Own Good: Two Centuries of Experts' Advice to Middle and Upperclass White Women (and I think the authors would agree), this is still a great read. Really eye-opening.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    this just in: men have believed ridiculous things about women. did this book really need updating?

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jccannon1

    This is an amazing book, that every woman should read. It's full of the sort of tidbits that make you want to laugh, then sob.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rose

    This book was written in the 1970s. Made me think about my upbringing and how history and my place in time has shaped who I am. The book reminds us that we do not exist in a vacuum.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kirsty

    Re-read. Love it just as much as I did seven years ago.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Maggiemuggins

    As usual, when Ehrenreich has anything to say about it, the subject is approached seriously but with enough humorous asides to leaven the mix, so that the reader doesn’t feel she is being bludgeoned by too much depressing detail. Obviously this is a book all women should read as we still need to be able to stand up to the latest fads and fancies that manage, even now, to find a comfortable and profitable home in the medical profession; that unfortunately hasn’t changed much. I have only one argu As usual, when Ehrenreich has anything to say about it, the subject is approached seriously but with enough humorous asides to leaven the mix, so that the reader doesn’t feel she is being bludgeoned by too much depressing detail. Obviously this is a book all women should read as we still need to be able to stand up to the latest fads and fancies that manage, even now, to find a comfortable and profitable home in the medical profession; that unfortunately hasn’t changed much. I have only one argument with the book and this passage made me realize what was missing throughout: “. . . the contented, happy expressions of the bread-winners, as they return from the cares of the day to pretty, attractive homes, to a bright fireside and well-ordered dinner, presided over by a home-loving, neatly-gowned, womanly wife.” There is no suggestion that the wife might have spent any part of her day reading, nor is there any suggestion anywhere in the book that there have always been wives who have been life-long readers in a serious way, and who are capable of discussing what they have read with their husbands and children. I don’t mean the readers of women’s magazines, thrillers or romantic pulp fiction; I’m talking about women who find time to expand their own knowledge to pass on to the next generation while also bearing and raising successful, law-abiding, useful citizens. In other words the book left out an entire group of women whose contribution, vital to the future of the human species, is ignored.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bailey

    This book’s title would be more accurate if it read “Two Centuries of Experts Advice to White, Middle class Women”. It’s a good read if only to get a great glimpse at second wave feminist thought. It is, however, entirely non-intersectional. Women of color and poor women are largely absent from this book and only get passing mentions. It’s frustrating because you know experts had opinions on women of color and poor women too, but that is almost entirely absent from this book. The last chapter is This book’s title would be more accurate if it read “Two Centuries of Experts Advice to White, Middle class Women”. It’s a good read if only to get a great glimpse at second wave feminist thought. It is, however, entirely non-intersectional. Women of color and poor women are largely absent from this book and only get passing mentions. It’s frustrating because you know experts had opinions on women of color and poor women too, but that is almost entirely absent from this book. The last chapter is slightly better as it was written more recently but is still largely in the vain of the non-intersectional third wave feminist thought. Overall it’s well researched and well written, just very dated and incredibly white.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.