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Extended Audio Sample The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much? Audiobook, by Leslie Bennetts Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (558 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Leslie Bennetts Narrator: Leslie Bennetts Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2007 ISBN: 9780061438257
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Women are constantly being told that it's simply too difficult to balance work and family, so if they don't really "have to" work, it's better for their families if they stay home. Not only is this untrue, Leslie Bennetts says, but the arguments in favor of stay-at-home motherhood fail to consider the surprising benefits of work and the unexpected toll of giving it up. It's time, she says, to get the message across—combining work and family really is the best choice for most women, and it's eminently doable.

Bennetts raised two children while earning a living, and understands the challenges and the rewards firsthand. She and millions of other working women provide ample proof that there are many different ways to have kids, maintain a challenging career, and have a richly rewarding life as a result. When women sacrifice their financial autonomy by quitting their jobs, they become vulnerable to divorce as well as the potential illness, death, or unemployment of their breadwinner husbands. The truth is that when women gamble on dependency, most eventually end up on the wrong side of the odds.

Not since Betty Friedan has anyone offered such an eye-opening and persuasive argument for why women can—and should—embrace the joyously complex lives they deserve.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A provocative examination of the economic pitfalls facing stay-at-home moms…A clarion call…that taking the mommy track is risky business.”


  • “Packed with pragmatic, well-researched advice, this manifesto on the power of financial independence is bound to inspire discussion among career women as well as stay-at-home moms.”

    USA Today

  • “A feminist slogan from the 1970s warned that women were ‘one husband away from welfare.’ Bennetts takes up that placard, pitching her polemic against stay-at-home motherhood not as a skirmish in the culture wars but as an attempt to save women on the brink of ruin.”

    Washington Post

  • “As wise an argument as has been proffered in some time…there are too many smart women who choose to be ignorant about the financial structure that supports the family. Until it doesn’t.”

    Philadelphia Inquirer

  • “A must-read for every woman.”

    Louann Brizendine, bestselling author of The Female Brain

  • “Bennetts…addresses an important contention of the women’s movement: women’s economic dependency on men…Her message certainly demands consideration.”

    Publishers Weekly on the audiobook

  • “Allowing women to tell their own stories of economic abandonment, Bennetts presents a cautionary tale for women pondering giving up economic independence.”


  • “Passionate and well argued, this program questions the supposed familial rewards of stay-at-home mothering…This audiobook [is] essential listening for women contemplating marriage and a family.”

    Library Journal on the audiobook

  • “No woman could possibly confuse care and cash again after reading about the true price women pay for economic dependence.”

    Liz Perle, author of Money, a Memoir

  • “Leslie Bennets delivers an incontrovertible argument for economic self-sufficiency as the fundament of women’s well-being.”

    Susan Faludi, author of Backlash

  • “Should be required reading for all young women contemplating marriage and a family.”

    Ann Crittenden, author of The Price of Motherhood

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cassie | 2/11/2014

    " Really recommend this to all women - SAHM or Working Moms, it doesn't matter. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lia | 1/15/2014

    " Every woman should read this, then make her husband read it, too. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Heather | 1/1/2014

    " All women MUST read this book...Leslie Bennetts' "The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much?" To say it is life-altering is a huge understatement. In a nutshell, she tackles the premise that women who quit working because their husband will take care of them (with or without children) is a really stupid idea on oh-so-many levels...financially, emotionally, mentally. And that this causes an infantilizing situation in which the woman becomes like a child to her own spouse, and is typically disengaged with co-managing the finances in the relationship (the fact that many women blindly let the husband put only his name on investments scares the hell out of me). Odds are, at some point they will be put in a situation of getting divorced, or their spouse becomes ill, dies, loses their job, then they (and any children they might have) become completely hosed. When I was in college, I used to think that I would work until I had kids, and then leave permanently leave the workforce, or at least until they were school-age. Now that I've worked for a while, I can see that there are increasing fewer opportunities for women to disenage and successfully re-engage in the workforce, and that there are major short- and long-term financial ramifications that can happen as a result. Damn few workplaces honestly let people go part-time and are supportive of that choice, and the few people that I've seen that do part-time eventually quit because they're so thoroughly discouraged and shunned. I've seen a majority of women my age leave the workforce over the past few years when they have kids ("because their salary would have gone to child care anyways, so why not?"), and although they think they are "raising their children properly" (because apparently working women can't), they have closed more doors than opened them. One person pointed out in this book that if paying for child care is the sole decision, you're basing a couple years of paying for it compared to a lifetime of earning potential. I am grateful for the gift of access to resources such as this, to help me make a well-thought decision in how to run my life in a way that makes me happiest and minimizes my personal risk of financial insecurity in this insecure world. Here's a few great quotes from the book: Page 161..."It's terrifying to take responsibility for things, but it gets less terrifying if you do it a couple of times. If you take responsibility, there's a slow accretion of confidence; you begin to feel you're intelligent, and you know how to get the job done. You know what you know, and you what you don't know. You know how to get people to support you, how to find the right people, how to ask for advice and take advice and sift through advice and learn what's good and what's not. You learn who you can trust and who you can't. Over the years, it changes you. You become more certain, more secure, more able to deal with anything that comes up. You're not afraid to speak up, because you know that most of the time, the things you're going to say are reasonably intelligent. The confidence you get in yourself as you achieve things is very powerful and very satisfying. It makes you feel good." Page 177..."if feminism is about the freedom to make choices, true liberation is not having to discuss and defend those choices." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Erin | 12/26/2013

    " A must read for stay-at-home moms. While I don't agree with all of her positions, Leslie Bennetts does make the reader think about the financial risks we take as mothers when we choose to stay home. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jen | 11/17/2013

    " I'd previously read "The Mommy Wars", and found that this book brought up very valid issues that most women choosing to stay at home full-time tend to ignore or think optimistically will never happen to them. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katelyn Joy | 10/6/2013

    " This book's overall message is wonderful, but it starts to feel like there is a mandated length about 3/4 through. She has a lot of good interviews and research pieces to support her points, but it gets redundant. Still - worth a read for women! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Callista | 7/12/2013

    " Great arguments, but not always well edited. Gets a tad repetitive. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ellie | 7/7/2013

    " Highly recommend, especially for every woman. Easy to read and the message is important. Oh, and it's not feminism - it's REALISTIC. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Leila Runyan | 10/9/2012

    " The points were good. However, I found the message to be redundant. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Amy | 9/25/2012

    " The author comes off really harsh, so anything decent she actually might have to say is so clouded in bitterness that it's impossible to see. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lisa | 9/18/2012

    " I actually was reading this book when I found out I was pregnant in 2007. I was 26 and halfway through graduate school and working full time and though I didn't ever have the choice to stay home, this book definitely changed my life. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Heather | 9/9/2012

    " The prologue of the book was enough information for me. It's purpose is to be educational for women about how important it is to not be financially dependent on a man, however I feel like that has already been ingrained in me :) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Celia | 8/30/2012

    " Made me glad that I kept my job. Author's point well taken, but she did go on & on. Too many interviews. Do all female Harvard Law grads give it up upon motherhood? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lindsay | 7/18/2011

    " I can't agree more with the premise of this book. The subject matter gets me so riled up that I had to read something else before I turned off the lights or else I would have never went to sleep. I see this happening all around me yet no one even bats an eye at it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laura | 7/12/2011

    " 100 fewer pages and this would have been an excellent book. That said, it is one of the most thought provoking books I've read in ages. It was "assigned" by a book club that I've just joined. I'm anxious to hear what the mothers (both working in and out of the home) will have to say about it! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Heidi | 6/6/2011

    " I don't even know what's proper to comment on here...it was a big disappointment! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Crystal | 11/12/2010

    " If we all judged less, we (women) wouldn't feel pressured to choose "mom" or "career". Retain a sense of self "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Laura Leigh | 8/19/2010

    " Had some good points but I found it to be very repetitive. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amanda | 8/17/2010

    " Women need to work, no matter what they do, they need to stay marketable. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Leila | 7/20/2010

    " The points were good. However, I found the message to be redundant. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carol | 12/27/2009

    " Points out the hazards of relying on a single income and refutes the exaltation of motherhood as an occupation. Convinced me to keep working full time. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Elizabeth | 10/1/2009

    " Makes a lot of very valid points, but I just found it overly repetitive and very heterocentrist. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kristy | 9/16/2009

    " EVERY GIRL THAT ISN'T MARRIED AND DOESN'T HAVE KIDS SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO READ THIS BOOK! EXCELLENT!!!! Never sacrifice your career or money-making power for a family, NEVER! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cynthia | 8/22/2009

    " The Feminine Mistake provides an empowering and positive view of choosing to work while raising children. Added plus, the writing is not preachy, boring, inflammatory, or dry and should be an insightful read for both men and women. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Esmeralda | 7/22/2009

    " This book is great advise for women. The book opens to the idea that women should be self-reliant not economically dependent. It is not a book about or against stay-at-home mothers, rather it is about how women need to rethink and reinvent themselves to be great mothers, wives, and career women. "

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About the Author

Leslie Bennetts is the author of the national bestseller The Feminine Mistake and Last Girl before Freeway. A longtime Vanity Fair writer and a former New York Times reporter, she was the first woman ever to cover a presidential campaign at the New York Times. She has also written for many other magazines, including the Nation, New York, and Vogue.