As most of you know, I generally review books for children or teens. But every once in awhile I share books for adults. This time, I'm tackling a serious topic in a book by psychologist, Dr. Susan Forward: Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them.
Before listening to this book, I had never heard the word misogynistic and had no idea that it meant "reflecting a distrust, hatred, or mistreatment of women." Nor did I have any idea how prevalent this syndrome is today.
Originally published in 1986, it was re-released as a paper back in 2002 and is now available in audio format through Tantor Media. The narration by Randye Kaye was clear and easy to follow.
In Part I, Dr. Forward describes the symptoms of a misogynist relationship through family histories of her patients as well as stories she heard time and again as a talk show host. The women find themselves the recipients of ridicule, are always seen at fault if conflicts arise (and what marriage doesn't have conflict?), and are frequently afraid of the men in their lives because they are threatened either verbally or physically. As a result, these women walk on eggs; not wanting to upset their partner, and often give up important relationships, activities or even their jobs in order to not rock the boat.
Many women ignore early warnings that their relationship has serious problems and fantasize about how they can make things better. Not wanting to ruin romantic dreams, the reality of the trouble these women experience frequently gets shoved into the background. It takes great courage and strength to face these problems--or if the problems go on long enough, the woman becomes desperate to receive help.
The second part of the book is devoted to advice to women who are in these types of relationships. This comprehensive section includes
clarifying relationships to remove oneself from self-blame, recognizing when a man is emotionally unstable and wanting a woman to be dependent on him (and why), understanding how a woman can't change a man's basic personality but how she can set limits and respond to his threats. It also included reflections on what leads a man to becoming a misogynist. Questionnaires and visualization exercises give the reader opportunities to examine herself, her relationship, and how to create new responses to the man in her life. Dr. Forward handles many tough topics, including how to handle physical threats to the woman or her children.
As a Christian, I thought Dr. Forward made many valid points about setting boundaries and parameters. Her advice to women not to try to fix the other person but instead to acknowledge her own emotions, negative thoughts, and behaviors, frees a woman to take responsibility for herself. I disagreed with Forward's negative use of the word submissive. Although the concept can easily be misused, within the contest of a Biblical and loving marriage submission takes on a positive meaning and direction.
A NOTE TO WRITERS
As I was listening to the book, I thought how it would be a great resource for writers who are exploring the effects of abuse on men and women. As I have mentioned before, One Stop for Writers, the brainchild of Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman, is a collection of helps for writers including all of their thesauri. I thought particularly of The Emotional Wound Thesaurus, and how it digs deep into many wounds related to destructive female/male relationships. If you are writing a book that includes a misogynistic relationship, I would encourage you to read this book to deepen your understanding of what your characters have experienced.
This is a must read for anyone who is involved in a relationship with a man who is very controlling and threatening. No giveaway this time; my copy went to a friend.
To hear a snippet from the book, click here.