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To Hell with All That: Loving and Loathing…

To Hell with All That: Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife

by Caitlin Flanagan

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Is it ironic that I listened to this while doing household chores? The author gave me some insights about certain other women, but she really does over-generalize, because the insights didn't apply to me or to other mothers I know. I did like the poignant bit comparing Erma Bombeck to Betty Friedan, though... ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
I struggled with this book immensely. While I agreed with [what I discerned to be] some of her core points - that the housewife decision is not one to be ashamed of, that not all gender roles are oppressive, etc - I found her to be an extremely unlikeable voice. It appeared to me that her opinion was muddled. At times, it was almost hard to figure out what side of the opinion line she stood.

Her writing is not wrought with wit, as the book jacket alluringly enticed me with. She seems a very petty woman, very naive and unappreciative. Particularly about her "servant" [her own words], Paloma. Whom, she says, was a life-saver and deeply meaningful in her life, but who was oddly vacant from her acknowledgments.

I credit Ms. Flanagan for her unwavering bluntness and for the audacity to dive into the highly controversial topic that she did, but I truly struggled to not throw this book against a wall and light it on fire. I still (despite my inclination to use it as fire starters) found it to be a worthwhile read, for it raises questions and makes you think. ( )
  tealightful | Sep 24, 2013 |
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  MightyLeaf | May 25, 2010 |
Some good and thought-provoking ideas, but what was her point? Each unrelated chapter left me struggling to discern a clear message. Liberal feminists base their freedoms on the exploitation of poorer minority women, but the author IS a liberal feminist who isn't a feminist, and she employs poorer minority women? I couldn't get a point-of-view to agree or disagree with, so I just responded to various statements. For that, it's worth your time, but it's not life-changing. ( )
1 vote goodnightmoon | Oct 12, 2008 |
To He** with this Book...What an Irksome Read

The description on Amazon says that "Flanagan's take on why modern mothers are conflicted about their roles is witty and well researched." I can't say that I agree...I'd say that Flannagan's take on why modern mothers are conflicted is, well...conflicted itself. For me, the title: To Hell With All that: Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife was about the most interesting and exciting thing about Flannagan's book. It serves to draw you in and makes you think you are in for something different and interesting, sadly this feeling doesn't extend beyond the title page. Hell With All that: Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife is ten chapters of loosely related information that sounds promising, but never pay off. They ramble along allowing a glimpse into Flanagan's very pampered and privileged version of stay-at-home motherhood that left me shaking my head and wondering what the heck was the point she really wanted to make here.

Originally she quit her teaching gig to write a novel, and when she couldn't successfully do that she decided to have kids instead. The premise here seems to be that since she was failing at writing a novel and couldn't bring herself to just go back to teaching, she'd have kids because that would give her an "excuse" to not have to worry about the novel or deal with the feelings that failure held for her...it'd be OK if she found some measure of success as a parent. She might not have turned out a novel, but she DID squeeze out a kid...the logic is unfathomable. In reading the first few chapters, I didn't get the feeling that she wanted to be a mother, I got the sense that being a mother was a means to the end of continuing to stay at home...an excuse not to go back to work or find something else more meaningful to do with her time. Not all mothers (I might even say MOST) come to the decision to have children like this...it's either planned or it just happens...we don't think to ourselves...hmmmmmmm, I'm bored with my job or I've not been successful enough at what I really wanted to do and rather than admit that and find something else to do with my life, I think I'll have a kid and let my husband support me so I can continue stay at home. Can you tell I was irritated by this book?!

Additionally, she says in several places in the book that she doesn't believe that there is a "better" when it comes to being a stay-at-home mom or a working mother, but the entire book seems to be a pat on the back for her decision to stay at home with her kids, but not REALLY stay at home with them...she's got a nanny to do the boring, menial part of parenting, a maid, a gardener, and even an organizer by the end of the book...she's not really raising those kids herself, she's got an entire support staff (and bully for those who can afford it or know they need it and thus use it)...but I don't feel it's right to pat yourself on the back for being a stay-at-home mom while you spend about as much time with your kids as most working parents do.

I was less than half way through the book when I began to realize that this book wasn't making a point, it was just another well-to-do white woman bemoaning how hard it is to be a wife and mother (either of the working or stay-at-home variety) while going on and on about her nanny, her maid and her organizer and how hard it is to organize the little tikes schedule of activities while still maintaining a sense of self...not all of us can afford those expensive classes and extracurricular activities for our kids. On the one hand she bemoans over scheduling kids but does it herself...she says for her staying at home with the kids is the best choice, but once she's published she spends time mocking other stay-at-home moms with two working mothers (the cool girls of the motherhood world, whom she desperately wanted to be "in" with)...basically she wanted the best of both worlds and luckily for her, her husband (who is rarely mentioned in the book outside of being the provider and wallet in the Flannagan family) can afford to make this a reality for her, so she never has to make those touch choices that most of the rest of us HAVE to make.

Overall, I felt that each chapter would have made a fine stand alone essay without the inclusion of all the personal information and what she perceived as the difficulties of motherhood. Taken as a whole, this book never make a point and I found it to be personally irksome to read, Hell With All that: Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife is a jumble of individual points and rambling personal exposition that never coalesces into a cohesive or satisfying whole. I wound up giving it two stars...I just couldn't see my way to three stars. Sure it was humorous and interesting for what it is, but it doesn't really go very far in making a cohesive point about why modern mothers are conflicted about their roles, it's clear that Flannagan IS conflicted herself and is unable to discern WHY that is exactly. In the end, I was more annoyed than entertained or informed. ( )
4 vote the_hag | Dec 28, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316736872, Hardcover)

Caitlin Flanagan, the hilarious and hotly disputed social critic, compares the rituals and experiences that shaped the fifties housewife with those that have forged the modern woman, and arrives at some surprising conclusions. In her signature prose -- bitingly funny and brutally honest -- Flanagan examines everything from the contemporary white wedding craze to the epidemic of undersexed marriages. Whether she is reporting on the mommy wars, the anti-clutter movement, or America's new nanny culture, her book reveals both the high cost women pay for devoting themselves to the people they love, and also the matchless rewards that come from such a sacrifice. Caitlin Flanagan began her magazine-writing career at the Atlantic Monthly in 2001 with a series of essays on modern family life that became an immediate sensation and the subject of an ongoing and heated national discussion. Now a staff writer for The New Yorker, her essays are passed from friend to friend, challenged and championed in the media, and often made the subject of book group discussions. With its insightful observations and trenchant conclusions, To Hell With All That will generate controversy and serious media attention while it also delights and enlightens readers across the country.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:32 -0400)

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"In To Hell with All That, Caitlin Flanagan examines the central concerns of women's private lives - weddings, sex, nannies, housekeeping, marriage, children - in a blazingly fresh light that turns a familiar discourse on its head."--BOOK JACKET.

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