Book review/summary: My Mother My Self by Nancy Friday
by, 29th-March-2011 at 05:48 PM (263 Views)
Mini Review/Summary of Nancy Friday’s “My Mother My Self,” 1977
Ever heard the saying „If you want to know what your wife will look like In 10-20 years, look at the mother-in-law”
Why is it that a relationship/marriage starts out great, but as the years roll by, it fades? Surely intimacy should bring you closer to your partner?
Why is the mother-daughter bond all about?
In her book “My Mother My Self” feminist writer Nancy Friday (author of a pathbreaking book on womens sexual fanatasies “My Secret Garden”), Friday explores the mother-daughter bond and seeks to explain why women/feminists might talk tough, but many end up being just like their mothers. It is quite amazing to read a feminist write who understands and explains the saying, „If you want to know what your wife will look like In 10-20 years, look at the mother-in-law”, and this will forms the central theme of her book.
Friday’s perspective is to look over the life-cycle of girls/women. She documents, on the basis of in-depth interviews with women/feminists, how mothers tend to control daughters far more than sons. She says words to the effect “mothers tend to leave boys alone, in fear that she might damage them in some way” (Please don’t quote me on this as I as writing this review not only away from the book, but also from memory when I read it about 2 years ago).
So girls are policed more than boys, told to come home “early” when they reach teenage years, while the father gives more scope for the boy to do what he wants..
When girls leave home/go to the city/go to colleague they suddenly have a new found freedom. Intoxicated with magazines like “Cosmopolitian” (which is the most widely read magazine by undergraduate females), they begin to seek ways to live the life of cosmo headlines (“10x better orgasms, etc, etc…). Freed from restraints of mum, they sometimes fulfill the image of “girls gone wild”. Now, for males in the same age, this is paradise. Boys want sex, and guess what, there are no shortage of frustrated/repressed girls who want to know more as well.
So boy meets girl, the sex is great. What’s next? They move, get a job, set up home, things are looking great. After years of mutual frustration both sexes have found what they believe is paradise. Yeah, but not for long !
Eventually they “settle down” live together/marry and there is talk of kids, and indeed there soon is a kid. This is where things often begin to go a bit boring.
The daughter no longer shuns away her mum, but often actively seeks it out. Marriage is an affair that women love and the marriage ceremony often reignites the mother-daughter bond, that has lied dormant for many years. With the birth of a child, the daughter will call on the continual advise of her mother and indeed, may even ask for babysitting. Thus the image of the “mother-in-law” is born. Some men may have no problem with this, some may note that the mother in law interferes too much. But HERES THE POINT – the daughter is looking to the mother for guidance and so takes on her cultural/personal features. Not all, but many men notice how their wives begin to resemble/have features like their mothers in law.
In this way, one generation after another passes on its cultural traits to the new generation. Think of this way – if you have grandchildren would you not like to spend time with them? Would you not advise your son/daughter on many things, from food, schools, to where they should live? Do they not come to you and ask for financial support/or you offer that support?
Critics might say “OK, but what if the wifes mother is in another country/hospital/dead/ or they are not on speaking terms – and this is often the case. In such a situation, the woman may begin to then fall back on memories of how she was brought up. A kind of default programming. After all, one of the first question a psychologist ass you is about you parents…
On a personal note, I remember my father was a very successful businessman, but then as I was turning 8, he had a huge financial crisis. I sought, as a father to be a better dad than my father was, but guess what, as my son turned 8, I also had personal and financial turmoil. I might have had pretense against my father, buy boy, and I finding out how tough it is to be a good dad now! My point is that no matter how hard I fought, certain elements in my family history are repeating themselves! And this is Nancy Friday’s point as well.
Now if you have a daughter and a son, look to see how is more “controlled”.
Mothers are not sexy?
Another key plank in her book is that, is that Nancy argues that women, like their mothers before them, often feel less sexy – they don’t like to think of their mothers and fathers having sex and begin to see themselves in a similar light.
For the feminist project – it meant questioning the mother daughter bond, in many ways it meant the further breakdown of the family and entry of armies of “psychologists” “councilors” “family advisors” and the rest of them, whose ranks have swelled over the past 20-30 years, but have been powerless to stem the tide of rising divorce rates.
I greatly admire Nancy Friday. She is a feminist who wanted something along the lines of equality, but did not force it down our throats. In her 1992 book “The Power of Beauty” she beautifully summarizes her “My Mother My Self” thesis, and covers just about every topic on man-woman relations in a good way. She not only turns her back, but fiercely attacks the feminists of the late 1980’s-90, many of whom here her colleagues in the past. She denounces them for being anti-man, spreading hatred and replacing dominance by man with dominance by woman. “The Power of Beauty” is a great, panoramic read with loads of great information, a real eye opener. It was a book I could hardly put down from the moment I started to read it. Get it, read it. Many of the arguments can be used by the mens movement.
Returning to “My Mother My Self”, it is a “chatty” book, but worth a read for its insights into the mother-daughter bond and to realize how woman can change over time.
I have written this review from memory and with no notes. The book was written a long time ago (1977) and some things change, but some things don’t change either.
I think what Friday says is that we are not necessarily destine to follow any given path, but if we are not conscious of what we are doing, then we enter a default mode and that default mode is to be similar to fall back on the “programming” we had as children. Here in the UK, there is not much social mobility. And this I think reflects a lot of the premise of Friday’s book.
It is difficult to escape your class, it is difficult to escape your family. Some do, most don’t.[/QUOTE]