A leading feminist digs into questions about parenting—why we have children, what we're told about the parenting experience, and what happens when the reality doesn't mesh with the fairy tale.
With a rise in the number of women choosing to remain childless (married or not), Valenti's (The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession with Virginity Is Hurting Young Women, 2009, etc.) book is certainly timely, and she addresses her topic from cultural, personal and historical perspectives. The author, a new mom herself, wades deeply into the moral and logistical problems facing mothers, with interviews, research and her own anecdotal experiences. As mommy blogs and websites have become havens for those seeking support and answers, they have simultaneously given rise to information overload, and parents can often feel as inadequate as they do vindicated. The impression people have of motherhood often doesn't match up with the realities that face new parents. Ideals and stereotypes leave new mothers feeling badly if they don’t feel love and warmth all the time. However, the inverse is also true. Oprah Winfrey famously stated that "moms have the toughest job in the world if you're doing it right," and that attitude too often translates to mothers pushing their children too hard to be successful. Valenti's writing occasionally falls prey to bluster and hyperbole—if you question the exactitude of others' pronouncements on pregnancy, it weakens the argument when your own pronouncements suffer the same shortcoming—but she states early on that her book is meant to anger people and incite discussions.
Valenti doesn't claim to have all the answers, but she provides the right analytical tools for mothers seeking answers that are right for them.