Too smart for her own good? – book reviews

Brett Harvey

Too Smart For Her Own Good?

Too Smart For Her Own Good? by psychologist Conalee Levine-Shneidman and Karen Levine (Doubleday, $15.95) addresses the problems successful career women may experience in their personal relationships with considerably more compassion and insight. Unfortunately, its offensive title may put off the very women who could most benefit from this book. The authors’ premise is that, having jettisoned their “feminine” qualities–vulnerability, passivity, dependence–in order to succeed at work, many professional women are uncertain about their identities in the private sphere. Like children of the Depression, such women may be inordinately fearful of losing their hard-won economic and emotional independence in a relationship. Rather than castigating women for repressing their nurturing instincts as Blotnick does, these authors point out that “much of what women learned as children about nurturing, softness and sensitivity was taught in the context . . . that assumed women’s intrinsic helplessness.” Despite an occasional tendency toward glibness (“attitudes, values and behavior” shortened to “AVB’s”), this book’s credible and provocative anecdotal material and thoughtful analysis should prove genuinely helpful.

All these books point up the fact that the woman for whom work is as important a source of satisfaction and self-esteem as it is for a man is still an anomaly. Her male counterpart need not choose between work and a private life because there is usually a woman in the background to take care of the personal sphere. But a woman who dares to want both meaningful work and intimacy had better be prepared to chart her own way in unexplored territory.

COPYRIGHT 1985 Sussex Publishers, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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