In a way, the situation women wake up in today is more dire than the one of thirty years ago…Despite sweeping government programs, tens of billions of dollars in social spending, and massive social upheaval in the name of sexual equality, you have to glance through a newspaper or switch on the news to be subject to a litany of gloomy statistics about today’s women: We are more likely to be divorced or never married at all than women of previous generations.We are more likely to bear children out of wedlock. We are more likely to be junkies or drunks or to die in poverty. We are more likely to have an abortion or catch a sexually-transmitted disease. If we are mothers, even of infants and very small children, we are more likely to work at full-time jobs and still shoulder the bulk of housework as well.
Conservative commentator Danielle Crittenden made those observations more than 15 years ago in her book “What Our Mothers Didn’t Tell Us: Why Happiness Eludes the Modern Woman,” and every word expressed in the book rings as true then as it does now. In the book, Crittenden takes feminists to task, arguing that their aggressive push for complete equality in workplaces, bedrooms, marriages and the military has caused women to ignore critical gender differences between men and women that have shaped societal norms and rules for hundreds years. Radical feminist policies have created societies where women have more rights in the workplace, the voting booth and the bedroom, but have fewer opportunities to have children, faithful relationships with men and stable marriages.
What is unfortunate is that the book, which was published in 1999, can still be considered a fair and accurate critique of the dating and workplace issues women are struggling with now. If anything, relationships between men and women have downgraded further, which is evident with the growing popularity of the pick-up artist subculture that encourages men to have one-night stands with women and the explosion of anti-male sentiments that have led feminists to defend women who lied about being raped (see “Columbia Mattress Girl” and “UVA Liar”).
Crittenden argues that the unhappiness women experience today is the inevitable result of feminist ideologies that encourage young women to have sex indiscriminately with men (even though most women actually want committed relationships), teach women to think of marital dependency as oppressive and constricting (even though a great marriage must consist of two people fully committed to the relationship, not just two independent people living together) and tell women to reject full-time motherhood (even though full-time care is best for young children).
Trying to lead identical lives as men has made women miserable—particularly women who did not realize that they needed to spend their younger and fertile years wisely planning for marriage, and children. And Crittenden is right that gender differences need to be contemplated more—women are fertile for a significantly shorter time than men, women want to spend more time with their children and women age differently (i.e., a successful man is marriage material at any age, while a successful older women is not as desirable).
“What Our Mothers Didn’t Tell Us” changed my life by introducing me to traditional and conservative viewpoints on dating, marriage and childrearing. The book is my Red Pill. Before I read the text, I knew that I didn’t want to end up like some of my stressed out office colleagues, who worked long hours and frequently put their jobs before their own children. I also knew that I wanted nothing to do with the hookup culture of having casual sex with strangers—I knew that I wanted commitment. This book helped me to better understand the reasoning behind many of the fears and anxieties I felt about dating, marriage, divorce, aging and work. I highly recommend the book for anyone who wants to learn more about why the current dating market is not working.
- “If young, attractive women offer no-strings-attached sex, then men will have no pressing reason to tie themselves down. This might be of little concern to a woman who is not yet ready to settle down, but sooner or later it will become of urgent concern.” (“What Our Mothers Didn’t Tell Us,” 43)
- “All the sexual bravado a girl may possess evaporates the first time a boy she truly cares for makes it clear that he has no further use for her after his own body has been satisfied. No amount of feminist posturing, no amount of reassurances that she doesn’t need a guy like that anyway, can protect her from the pain and humiliation of those awful moments after he’s gone, when she’s alone and feeling not sexually empowered but discarded. It doesn’t take most women long to figure out that sexual liberty is not the same thing as sexual equality.” (31)
- “If previous generations of women were raised to believe that they could only realize themselves within the roles of wife and mother, now the opposite is thought true: It’s only outside these roles that we are able to realize our full potential and worth as human beings…How often have you watched a TV show or seen a movie or read a novel in which a woman is celebrated for finding the courage “to be herself” by leaving a marriage or starting a new career or telling a boorish husband he’ll have to make his own dinner from now own? Her actions are not seen as selfish—or when they are, her selfishness is seen as payback for all the centuries of women’s selflessness and sacrifice to men.” (60-62)
- “Elaborate rituals that used to govern relations between the sexes were based on the understanding that women, as child bearers, required the protection of society against men who might recklessly use and abandon them.” (42)
- What a woman is aware of, at around the age of twenty-six or twenty-seven, is a growing, inchoate dissatisfaction, a yearning for more, even if her life is already quite full…She starts noticing the mothers all around her—especially young, attractive mothers—pushing strollers down the street, cooing at their babies in supermarkets, and loading up their shopping carts…Alas, it is usually at precisely this moment—when a single woman looks up from her work and realizes she’s ready to take on family life—that men make themselves most absent. This is when the cruelty of her singleness really sets in, when she becomes aware of the fine print in the unwritten bargain she has cut with the opposite sex. Men will outlast her. Men, particularly successful men, will be attractive and virile into their fifties. (66-67).
- If we are not willing to do much for our husbands, we can hardly expect them to be willing to do much for us…The long-term surrender of their freedom, the unshrinking shouldering of the financial burdens of a family—the sacrifices they used to make in exchange for a woman’s agreement to run the home—are sacrifices fewer men are willing to make. Women have gained the right to move into all spheres of society; men, from their point of view, have only lost their right to domestic comfort. (94)
- By encouraging men and women to strive for this sort of precise equality within marriage, we have left women and their children much more vulnerable to the whims of their husbands than ever before. The protections the law once afforded to women who made economic sacrifices for their families no longer exist. They were abolished when we rewrote the divorce law in the name of sexual equality. (98)
- It will be even tougher for a woman to take time out from her job to stay home with her kids if, before giving birth, she’s been especially adamant about the fairness and equality of her marriage. Asking her husband to shoulder the whole burden of being the breadwinner will not necessarily strike him as “fair” or “equal.” (100)
- This loss of faith in marriage explains why my generation may be so zealous about making sure their marriages are so equal: A modern couple’s desire to keep their arrangement strictly balanced, at all levels, is actually a way of protecting each partner’s self-interest in the event that the marriage dissolves. (104)
- Of course, no woman should cease to be loved simply because she is old. But a society that refuses to acknowledge that age touches women very differently from the way it touches men—a society that shrugs as good enough marriages are dissolved after twenty or thirty years—is a society condemning millions of women to loneliness.” (153).
- It may not be so ironic then, that the happiest memoirs among the elders of the women’s movement are by those who led the most conventionally female lives…Betty Friedan takes enormous pleasure in watching her own children become parents and in being a grandmother…Meanwhile, Gloria Steinem, alone in her fifties, devotes herself to writing a book about finding self-esteem. (160)
Crittenden writes much of the book in a broad narrative style that includes many generalizations about women. Though, as a young woman who is in her twenties, I know much of Crittenden’s observations to be true, it would be nice if she included statistical data to back up many of her claims. For example, when talking about working mothers, she writes, “Yet whether you work because you want to or because you have to, the outcome for women is the same—the nagging, underlying worry that what you are doing is hurting those you love most.” It would have been nice in that instance to read about findings from a study on the guilt or anxiety working mothers may feel.
The book sparked my interest in the Red Pill/manosphere subculture because it encouraged me to accept my own womanly inclinations. It’s why I can now recite 20 facts about sex and dating that feminists don’t want you to know. I stopped ignoring and dismissing my desire to get married and have children, and I stopped putting my career on such a high pedestal. I highly recommend the book and I plan to give copies to young women in my family and social circle.
Now, I encourage others to do their part to build and support feminine, family-oriented women. What are you doing to help teach young ladies about traditional family values? Start working to change the tide today by sharing helpful information with impressionable women:
- A Time to Wait for Love
- You Can Drink Wine Like a Lady
- All You Need to Know About Fine Dining
- Ladies Shut Their Mouths
- How to Find a Husband who Really Gets You
- Go Ahead. Mail That Thank You Card