WOMEN OF A CERTAIN AGE: The Midlife Search for Self by Lillian Rubin

WOMEN OF A CERTAIN AGE: The Midlife Search for Self


Interviews with 160 midlife women seem to have left sociologist Lillian Rubin, who herself began college at age 39, with remarkably one-dimensional conclusions. Thus, virtually all her subjects denied the presence of the ""empty nest syndrome,"" focusing instead on their ""relief"" that the children were gone (expressed hesitantly, whisperingly). Triumph over conditioned repression, freedom from child care and from the worries of pregnancy are cited as reasons for a ""more expansive and open sexuality"" in this (by now one-voiced) sampling. And as for work--you guessed it. All the women defined themselves in terms of the traditionally feminine nurturing adjectives: none mentioned professional accomplishments, despite the fact that some were Ph.D.'s or high-powered executives. And so on. Men come off rather badly in most cases; they tend to turn cold when their wives become sexually or professionally liberated, or refuse to let their wives work if, for example, it may mean interference with their three-week summer vacations. Rubin asserts that the most common places for midlife women to begin reconstructing their lives are ""the job market and the local college,"" but there is more concern with the psychological effects of these transitions on women than with the practical difficulties of coping with a less-than-encouraging economy. Not particularly new, and not as effective as a more tempered discussion might have been.

Pub Date: Sept. 5th, 1979
Publisher: Harper & Row