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Regretting Motherhood

A Study
Narrated by: Mandy Kaplan
Length: 6 hrs and 22 mins
Categories: Non-fiction, Gender Issues
5 out of 5 stars (9 ratings)

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Summary

Women who opt not to be mothers are frequently warned that they will regret their decision later in life, yet we rarely talk about the possibility that the opposite might also be true - that women who have children might regret it. Drawing on years of research interviewing women from a variety of socioeconomic, educational, and professional backgrounds, sociologist Orna Donath treats regret as a feminist issue: as regret marks the road not taken, we need to consider whether alternative paths for women currently are blocked off. She asks that we pay attention to what is forbidden by rules governing motherhood, time, and emotion, including the cultural assumption that motherhood is a "natural" role for women - for the sake of all women, not just those who regret becoming mothers.

If we are disturbed by the idea that a woman might regret becoming a mother, Donath says, our response should not be to silence and shame these women; rather, we need to ask honest and difficult questions about how society pushes women into motherhood and why those who reconsider it are still seen as a danger to the status quo. Groundbreaking, thoughtful, and provocative, this is an especially needed book in our current political climate, as women's reproductive rights continue to be at the forefront of national debates.

©2017 Orna Donath (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

"Donath breaks open what she describes as an 'unspoken taboo,' bringing the notion that women regret becoming mothers into the public discourse with her latest research....The most valuable elements of the book are the different perspectives provided by the interviews, which reflect a striking amount of self-awareness (and, often, suffering) from women who have otherwise largely kept silent." (Publishers Weekly)

"Forthrightly feminist ... Donath's study fills a gap in discussions of women's lives and choices. While it will undoubtedly be a hard pill for many to swallow, it is also a necessary one." (Foreword Reviews)

"Donath carves out a much-needed space for these women to share, in their own words, stories about how they got to where they are, and how they manage now. Mixed in with these interviews is analysis by Donath, who expertly examines and questions the structures of a capitalistic, patriarchal society that not only contributes to women finding themselves in this position, but also prevents them from speaking about it. Many have never heard sentiments like the ones shared by Donath's interviewees - and that needs to change." (BUST Magazine)

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  • Josie
  • 06-08-19

Incredible! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

As a childfree woman who is constantly pressured and badgered to make choices I do not want, I found this book vindicative. Your important work has reaffirmed my own thoughts and decision to stay true to myself. Please continue your work - you are helping women everywhere! To the mothers who participated in this research, thank you from the bottom of my heart. you are the real heroes for speaking your truth.

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  • FloridaMelissa
  • 04-01-20

Tough but meaningful

The research revealed in this book is eye opening. It gives a voice to women who had children but wished they hadn't. Most of these women love their children, but have found the role more or less miserable.

I walk away with these thoughts ...

Motherhood is overtly and covertly pushed on many women.

Women are not permitted to talk about their feelings of regret after motherhood, or warned, in advance, about the unhappiness, discontent ... that defines motherhood for some.

This mechanism is perpetuated by society to preserve the social order which depends on women having children and serving families selflessly for free.

The answer?

Perhaps, in part, more truth about motherhood sooner, so women have a better understanding of what motherhood can cost, so women can make better choices before becoming pregnant.

More acceptance for child free women, so its a valid choice without penalty.

Much more support for mothers, division of labor with fathers and such.

End goal - More happy, content women. More equitable society. More deeply desired and wanted children.

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  • Jennifer S Ignacio
  • 12-07-19

Juicy topic

Refreshing read! No judgments just factual real women having the courage to say how they feel. Be open minded when reading and listen to others perspective. Love this book!

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  • CS
  • 28-12-18

Eye opener

I hope this study becomes more and more available to young people so that they can make a more informed decision about becoming parents.