TOO GOOD FOR HER OWN GOOD: Breaking Free from the Burden of Female Responsibility by Claudia & Jo-Ann Krestan Bepko

TOO GOOD FOR HER OWN GOOD: Breaking Free from the Burden of Female Responsibility

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An earnest but meandering look at the rules that determine what makes a ""good"" woman. Family therapists Bepko and Krestan (The Responsibility Trap, 1985--not reviewed) contend that the ""Goodness Code"" requires women to be attractive, ladylike (low-keyed, controlled), unselfish and of service to others, the moving force in making relationships work, and competent--all without complaint. Such strictures not only ask women to devote themselves to the expectations of others at the expense of their own needs and goals, but the rules are also unworkable, How can a person control emotion and make relationships work? How can a woman compete on the job while putting the needs of others above her own? These contradictions lead to feelings of inadequacy, shame, rage, even to the use of alcohol or drugs, which may help women ""feel more in line with the image of how they should be."" The authors suggest that we redefine female goodness as: being comfortable (putting feeling good ahead of looking good), direct and honest about feelings, responsive, nurturing, firm and able to set limits to fulfilling the expectations of others. To break the self-sacrifice syndrome, women should practice requesting someone to satisfy one emotional need daily, set aside an hour a day for doing something enjoyable, etc. There's much more: overly long case histories; an interminable discussion of ""loyalty triangles"" (a suffocating binding between two family members); the ""Masculine Code of Goodness"" and its drawbacks; the ""emptiness feeling"" that follows giving up self-sacrifice, and so on. An interesting idea--smothered in verbiage.

Pub Date: June 6th, 1990
Publisher: Harper & Row