One Nation Under Stress: The Trouble with Stress as an Idea

Dana Becker, Author
Dana Becker. Oxford Univ., $35 (256p) ISBN 978-0-19-974291-2
Reviewed on: 12/10/2012
Release date: 03/01/2013
Hardcover - 978-0-19-997177-0
Book - 978-0-19-997178-7
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The media regularly wax hysterical over what is seen as dangerously unhealthy stress levels suffered by women struggling to balance work and home life. In this powerful book, Becker, an associate professor of social work at Bryn Mawr College, argues that there’s a bigger, more basic problem. Balancing a career and the demands of the domestic sphere is not just a “woman’s problem,” she contends. It’s a societal problem. The media, therapeutic professions, and government, she insists, must stop declaring that women can “do it all” if they just cut down on stress. The fact is, they can’t do it all, and they shouldn’t be expected to: the idea of stress “papers over our collective failure to act on the idea that care is both men’s and women’s work.” And it is untenable, Becker (Through the Looking Glass: Women and Borderline Personality Disorder) argues, that most women work while also doing 80% of the nation’s unpaid caregiving, a task that “rivals in size the largest industries of the visible economy.” Her solution: men must shoulder a more equal burden, women must let them, and business and government must accommodate the resulting demands. An important book for psychologists, gender studies students, anthropologists, business leaders, and policy makers alike. (Mar.)
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