Slaying the Mermaid: Women and the Culture of Sacrifice

Stephanie Golden, Author
Stephanie Golden, Author Harmony $25 (384p) ISBN 978-0-517-70812-5
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998
Release date: 06/01/1998
Paperback - 324 pages - 978-0-609-80435-3
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According to Golden (The Woman Outside: Meanings and Myths of Homelessness), women are often driven to put the needs of others before their own, a behavior exemplified by the ""Little Mermaid,"" who, in the Hans Christian Andersen tale, gave up her life to save the prince she loved. Drawing on scholarly and contemporary research sources as well as interviews with a variety of women, the author presents an informed analysis of the religious, sociological and psychological forces that combine to motivate women to give to others at the cost of denying their own desires. In her empowering self-help guide, Golden argues that this unnatural self-denial has been expected of women historically, culminating in a 19th-century society that idealized ""suffering"" females. She posits that women can avoid destructive self-sacrifice and still satisfy their urge to give to others and perform altruistic acts by redefining the self not in the Western tradition of opposition to others but from the Buddhist perspective of the interconnectedness of the self to society. (June)
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