Forget 'Having It All'
How America Messed Up Motherhood--and How to Fix It
By Amy Westervelt
A clear-eyed look at the American history of motherhood--and a blueprint for fixing the unequal and discriminatory treatment that exists as a result
After filing a story for a journalism assignment only two days after giving birth, Amy Westervelt had a revelation: we treat mothers like crap in this country. From inadequate maternity leave to gender-based double standards, emotional labor to the wage gap, Westervelt became determined to understand how we got here--where "having it all" is the fabled, hollow, unreachable goal.
In Forget "Having It All," Westervelt traces the roots of our modern problems back to the founding of our nation and through the changing roles of men and women since. What she discovers may be surprising: the roles of mothers have flip-flopped throughout our history (for example, leading up to the Industrial Revolution, many men were home while women worked). Using this historical backdrop, Westervelt draws out what we should replicate from our past (the origin of Mother's Day, for example, was a dedicated day for mothers to organize just as laborers had done--to take stock of their place in society and push for more), and what we must begin anew (such as incorporating working fathers into our discussions about work-life balance) as we overhaul American motherhood.
Ultimately, Westervelt presents a measured, historically-backed call for workplace policies, cultural norms, and personal attitudes about motherhood that will radically improve the lives of not just working moms but everyone in our country.
Amy Westervelt is an award-winning journalist with eighteen years' experience writing about health, psychology, technology, business, and environmental issues. Her work has recently appeared in Popular Science, Elle, Smithsonian, and Aeon. As a cofounder of Climate Confidential--an award-winning collaboration between six female journalists who syndicated environmental reporting to various national outlets--she helped get longform investigative environmental journalism into a host of national publications, including The Atlantic, Quartz, Smithsonian, Modern Farmer, and many more. In 2014 she was awarded a Rachel Carson Award for environmental journalism.
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- Publication date:
27 Dec 2018
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