Sounds horrible, doesn’t it? Like the worst of both worlds — academic, jargon-ridden, hatchet-wieldingly ideological? But no, in this rare case it’s the best of both worlds: humane, expansive, magical. I’m not sure if it’s possible to change human nature, but Dorothy Dinnerstein thought that if anything could, it would be the new fatherhood.
I found these quotes I’d copied out in some old notebook/ commonplace books.
And this mysterious body, this body whose transience we try so vainly to feel as a fact, is loved with a special reverence for continuing, miraculously, to live, and hated with a special loathing for promising, incredibly, to die.
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The sinking sense of falling — loss of maternal support — is the permanent archetype of catastrophe.
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[T]he sexual realm . . . is a wildlife preserve in the civilized world, a refuge within which inarticulate, undomesticated private creative initiative is protected from extinction.
They’re from Dinnerstein’s The Mermaid and the Minotaur, which relates to the Jimmy Buffett lyric, “Some people claim/ that there’s a woman to blame . . .” From Amazon reviews:
I read this book twenty years ago when I was in college. I found (and still find) Dinnerstein’s feminist argument for shared parenting to be one of those books that has the potential to change lives. . . . The kernel of her argument is that so long as we all are raised (exclusively or predominantly) by our mothers or by female caregivers, children will grow up with a deep-seated resentment of the feminine (since no parent can perfectly anticipate a child’s needs, and all children, in growing up, will be conditioned by our infantile rage at our parent’s imperfections). . . . At the age of twenty, I was persuaded by Dinnerstein to be (when I did have kids) an active and equal participant in the raising of my children, from changing diapers to feeding and everything else. I was so convinced of the importance of her analysis, and of its potential to change lives, that I have, in the past few decades, bought and given away as gifts eighty-eight copies to male and female friends. (I figured that if I just told people what a great book it was, few would follow up, but that if I actually bought it and thrust it into their hands, they might be moved to actually read it.) I’m not sure how many of these were actually read by the recipients. But I can report that out of 88 copies given away, eight people came to me afterward and said something to the effect of, “This book changed my life.”
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Dinnerstein also relates the fear of death to how women rule the infant’s world and men the adult’s world. Seem unrelated? Phrase “womb to tomb” captures it best perhaps.
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it is not “just another” “feminist ” title. Indeed quite a few feminists have objected mightily to it over the years. The big problem, though, it that it has been roundly ignored over the years!
I agree. Although it is quite Romantic, the book made enormous sense to me when I read it around age 30, especially in explaining the cruel control of women in so many traditional cultures. Its influence still lingers.