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Paperback Of Woman Born : Motherhood As Experience and Institution Book

ISBN: 0393312844

ISBN13: 9780393312843

Of Woman Born : Motherhood As Experience and Institution

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

The experience is her own--as a woman, a poet, a feminist, and a mother--but it is an experience determined by the institution, imposed on all women everywhere. She draws on personal materials, history, research, and literature to create a document of universal importance.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

This may be the best book ever written about motherhood.

This book is a miracle. I have read dozens of books about pregnancy, birth, babies and motherhood, and this blows them all out of the water. Rich's prose is poetry, and her research and scholarship are vast and impeccable. The critical reviews that report that she "didn't like motherhood" missed the point by a long shot (and misquote her). Rich's love for her three sons is clear throughout the book, but she does not shy away from acknowledging and facing the struggles that she faced as a mother. With this book, she explores the profound historical and cultural context in which all Western women experience both the bliss and the difficulties of motherhood. Of Woman Born is a huge gift to all people-- mothers, daughters, and sons. Read it and understand.

Life Changing Book

When I first read OF WOMAN BORN, in the mid-seventies, it was a Godsend. Rich's feminist critique of the institution of motherhood elucidates the source of so many of the world's problems. When women, the source of life, the life givers, the ones who bear each one of us into the world, whether man or woman, are denigrated, oppressed, abused, imprisoned, and exploited by governments, religions, and cultures - everything is off-kilter. Rich accurately describes the state of motherhood in the mid-20th century and the toll it took on mothers and children. She helped me understand that the pressures mothers put on their daughters to conform to sexist stereotypes were part of the oppression they themselves were enduring. Re-reading this book over the decades, I've seen that while some things have improved for women since Rich wrote OF WOMAN BORN, we still have a long way to go before women are treated equally or given the respect they deserve for their role as life givers and nurturers. The worldwide upsurge in the revival of Fundamentalist religions that institutionalize the oppression and second-class status of mothers and their daughters is frightening, as is the rage expressed by some reviewers of this book. People who are threatened by the ideas in OF WOMAN BORN want to return to the days when women were chattel and children were seen but not heard. In the 21st century, don't we owe our children, grandchildren and the world more than the tired, worn-out worldviews that brought women and families so much pain?

Everyone should read it

I can't believe this book is out of print. It's really good.

An important book

Those who have criticized this book thus far here are women who derive their sole identity and sense of importance, sadly, from their role as mothers. I know women who thoroughly enjoy being mothers, but they are few and their circumstances are unique. And even some of them still have a clear need to have another identity and a life of the mind they aren't permitted within the "institution" of motherhood. I myself, and most other mothers I know, struggle with the impossible expectations placed upon us to be perfect mothers/providers/etc., struggle to create a new and healthy understanding of motherhood, struggle to do right by our children and yet hold on to our own personhood, thinking, humor,... finding ourselves too often battling with self-hatred, resentment and guilt, knowing inside that no matter what, someone will criticize us for doing it all wrong. This book exposes this unfair situation in which many women who are mothers find themselves in. If to some Rich comes off as "angry," well of course she is. It's a righteous anger. My only criticism of this book is the lack of attention it gives to the experiences of women of color and working-class women.
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