Kidding Ourselves by Rhona Mahony
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Kidding Ourselves
By Rhona Mahony

Kidding Ourselves

Breadwinning, Babies and Bargaining Power

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Format: Paperback

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Kidding Ourselves by Rhona Mahony

Book Description

Why do so many smart, career-oriented, even ardently feminist women end up with nearly sole responsibility for running their households and raising their children? Why does it happen even in couples who had promised to share that work equally? Kidding Ourselves traces the decisions that women and men make--usually unwittingly--before and after marriage, and especially after the birth of a child, that lead inevitably to an old-fashioned division of labor at home. It also explains why change is necessary. As long as nearly all men devote themselves first and foremost to paying work, they will on average outearn women, who reduce their hours and travel in their paying job once they have a child. With this groundbreaking book, Rhona Mahony suggests practical ways to bring men into child raising and end the unfair burden of women's second shift.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780465085941
ISBN-10: 0465085946
Format: Paperback
(229mm x 152mm x 18mm)
Pages: 288
Imprint: Basic Books
Publisher: The Perseus Books Group
Publish Date: 26-Apr-1996
Country of Publication: United States

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US Kirkus Review » An odd, unconvincing case for breadwinning mommies and homemaking daddies. Harvard-trained lawyer, columnist, and mother Mahony fears that women will remain subject to glass ceilings, the "second shift," spousal abuse, and economic peril unless they get men to do half the work of raising children. According to the author, this doesn't mean 50-50 parenting, each spouse working half-time; it means half of all families nurtured by stay-at-home fathers. Mahony draws lots of graphs and borrows lots of jargon from economics, game theory, psychology, and anthropology to show how various hypothetical, overly generalized couples negotiate badly over who does the laundry. Despite her pedantic posturing, she has a strong point: A woman's economic dependence on a breadwinning male can rob her of both bargaining power and self-esteem. But her thesis - that the only way for women to shore up bargaining power at home is by fleeing from the nursery en masse - is not likely to win converts. The author is simply too dismissive of mother-baby bonding, maternal instinct, breast-feeding, and the sundry arrangements many women choose, such as maternity leave and part-time work. She is also too rigid about the necessity of a parent at home, scorning day care by "some six-dollar-an-hour hireling who will abandon [the baby] in three months to sell nose rings at the mall." Mahony is not above informing the reader how she divides parenting chores with her spouse or dispensing parent-mag household tips ("Bagel pizzas and yogurt smoothies make an elegant meal"). Those seeking specific advice on how to negotiate child care will be disappointed, although they might be intrigued by her suggestion that a moralistic quotation from the Bible now and then "may make all the difference." Too judgmental and pretentious to earn a wide readership. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Rhona Mahony

Rhona Mahony graduated from Brown University and Harvard Law School. She has worked as a legal services lawyer for migrant farmworkers and written for The Economist, Ms., and the Guardian (London). She can be reached at and at

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