Books by Elizabeth Debold

Released: Sept. 14, 1993

A powerful argument for mothers and daughters of any age to reassess their relationships, bury antagonisms, and become allies in revolutionizing how girls grow up. Carol Gilligan's recent study for the Harvard Project on Women's Psychology and Girls' Development—which revealed that girls experience a rapid drop in self-esteem, confidence, and assertiveness as they enter adolescence—provides the launch pad for this narrative—which, with unusual insight, explores the development of girls from curious, enthusiastic, and courageous kids into self-conscious, self-effacing teenagers as they ``hit the wall'' of awareness of the vulnerability of their developing bodies and of society's expectations for women. Debold (a member of the Harvard Project) and Wilson and MalavÇ (president and vice president, respectively, of the Ms. Foundation for Women) point out that mothers, consciously or unconsciously, teach their daughters not how to breach the wall but how to survive in a man's world. As their mothers turn them over to the patriarchy, girls feel abandoned and betrayed, bereft of the ``most intense loving'' they may have in their lives: their love for their mothers. The authors explore eloquently and convincingly how sex, politics, myth, science, class, and race play a part in stilling the young voices, even among loving families committed to opportunity for women and also to ``good'' mothering—which includes, for instance, protecting daughters from harm and teaching them how to protect themselves through strategies conforming to society's image of what women should be. The authors recommend a different strategy, whereby mothers and daughters learn from each other about who they are and how their behavior is shaped by sexism. Disturbing as well as empowering: a blueprint for a social reformation that begins at the beginning, with the intimacy of mother and daughter. (First printing of 75,000) Read full book review >