In The Beauty Myth the fearless Naomi Wolf revolutionized the way we think about beauty. In Misconceptions, she demythologizes motherhood and reveals the dangers of common assumptions about childbirth.
The most shocking element of Wolf's memoir of her pregnancy is how little this professional feminist knows about the conditions of most women's lives. Describing her treatment by a mercenary medical establishment, her changing ideas about gender and reproductive rights and the power shifts in seemingly egalitarian marriages, the book veers between political analysis and poetic reverie. Despite the inclusion of a mother's manifesto at the end, it seems clear that Wolf assumes her readers are, like her, white, wealthy and heterosexual. The book includes some useful anecdotal information, but even the author's best points are made in a tone of baffled outrage, as if no one has written about these issues before. Wolf's "discoveries" about health care and motherhood have long been staples of diverse feminist critiques, and it's unlikely she doesn't know this (she takes care, after all, to comment on the excellence of her education). Perhaps despite its intent, the book demonstrates the limits of yuppie feminism by charting Wolf's slow recognition that even her lifelong privilege cannot mitigate the systemic cultural and economic devaluation of motherhood.