If we live in an age of equality, why are women are still left holding the baby?
A revolutionary manifesto for achieving a new equality of the sexes in family life.
Today, women outperform men at school and university. They make a success of their early careers and enter into relationships on their own terms. But once they have children, their illusions of equality are swiftly shattered as the time machine of motherhood transports them back to the 1950s.
Entertaining and controversial, Shattered exposes the inequalities that still exist between women and men - at work, at home and within relationships - and sets out a bold manifesto for a more fulfilling family life.
'Powerful' DailyTelegraph 'Gripping' Mail on Sunday 'Invigorating' Guardian
Rebecca Asher is a self-proclaimed feminist, and as a man, I have little clue on feminists’ ideas, but reading this book has made me focus on one. The book title, 'Shattered', and the accompanying subtitle 'Modern Motherhood and The Illusion of Equality' did a really nice job in summarizing the whole thesis. It is centered to the idea of equality between men and women - equal opportunity at work, equal opportunity to pursue higher studies, and to be equal partners in marriage; and how the reality is suddenly 'shattered' after having a baby. The cover page features a woman from the past, working her way out of never ending chores - a feminist nightmare. I thought for sure that I was going to be lectured on something about 'How Men Purposely Deny Women Their Rights' throughout the book.
And I can't believe I bought this book for my wife as a gift during her confinement period - just days after our first daughter was born! My reading of the first chapter suggested that I will be in trouble.
But then as I continued reading the book, I found out that not all the blames are on men. The book is filled with personal anecdotes from mothers (and some fathers) that blame hospitals, the government and its policies, foreign governments and their policies, employers, children playgroups, antenatal classes, magazines, diaper companies and surprisingly, women themselves. The collection of personal accounts on various issues regarding motherhood can be overwhelming, but I imagine that they are helping mother-readers to identify themselves with other mothers. Although the honesty from ‘The Enemy Within’ came a little bit later into the book, it was a refreshing and enlightening chapter, shedding light on why men are being driven out from contributing more to parenting and homemaking.
Apart from telling what is all wrong, the book also suggested solutions to balance out the situation. Looking outside of the country, Asher compared UK government policies with other countries, and it seemed that the solution can be found partly in the role of governments. Discussions on maternity (parental) leave – length, payment, and flexibility suggested that the Nordic countries are in better shape when it comes to encouraging shared parenting. The comparison pointed out that there are some solutions worth emulating, and others refined and adapted.
I would suggest to young fathers, and would-be-fathers to read this book. The agony and misadventures of fellow mothers while being left alone with their baby may not be an interesting read, but the collections of stories should at least give the idea that something need to be done so that our children can gain a fair share of parenting from fathers. I have found more reasons to love my wife and my daughter by reading this book, and more ideas on how to contribute at home.
This book is a severe warning to those considering becoming parents. Although basically a feminist book, it is not too one sided and Asher tries to be fair to men in acknowledging they also suffer from the after effects of birth. Asher is far more balanced than other authors (of books and articles) on the subject. A warning to women and men about what they are getting into.
I think we should all send a copy of this book to our MPs with an instruction to read and take action .
Much of the beginning of this book did not personally speak to me as we have managed a balance of power and responsibility at home . Having said this , it is very true that most fathers are squeezed out of parenting ( some happily allow this) and then we berate them for not doing enough.
However despite working in the public sector I know the equality we have at home does not extend to the workplace and therefore I found the second half of the book to be more relevant . I would love to distribute this book amongst senior management .
I did think the author paints a very dark picture of motherhood , yes it is hard but there is also lots of joy to be found . She does make a good point that much PND is actually a reasonable response to an unreasonable situation and therefore rather than just dishing out anti depressants we should improve the experiences of parents. Shared parenting would make a huge difference.
I have not given this a five as at times it is quite repetitive and reads more like a policy document than a book. However it is great to read a feminist take on parenting that offers achievable and realistic solutions rather than just problems.
Gives a very clear and convincing narrative explaining how inequality in parenting comes about, the biggest factor probably being the year of leave on decent pay that is often available to mothers after a baby is born but not fathers. Really does make you think about how odd this state of affairs is in a country that is against gender discrimination in so many other ways. Her proposals will perhaps not help everyone and are focused on middle class, well educated parents. Plenty to agree with, though, for sure.
Anyone who has a job, children and another half should read this book. And then follow other half around house quoting chunks. Other half also has to read too. Fascinating. But will it change anything?!
Fantastic book that should be compulsory reading for all parents, parents to be and politicians. Nodded along more times than a nodding dog to the persuasive argument. Wish I'd read this before starting a family. Well researched, well argued and articulate.