Unfinished Business: Women, Men, Work, Family

Anne-Marie Slaughter

Book cover

This book grew out of the author’s 2012 Atlantic Monthly article, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” If you’ve read that article, you have probably already gotten 85% of the content of this book. However, I do think she built on the original argument in some valuable ways. Probably the biggest one is that she addresses directly how her concerns relate to poor and working-class people, which was a major criticism of the original article. I think she does a serviceable job of addressing this critique, using a larger framework of “caregiving” vs. “competition” that can encompass both the long hours expected of lawyers and the unpredictable hours expected of fast-food workers. (I was, however, surprised that her discussion of the general concept of “caring” centered around a book by Milton Mayeroff, and didn’t mention the contribution of feminist care-ethics thinkers such as Nel Noddings.) I also think Slaughter deserves praise for discussing the steps she thinks can be taken at the personal, organizational, and policy levels. It seems like most of the time critical books either don’t mention very specific remedies, or if they do, focus on just one of those levels, which can feel disappointing in different ways–either via a sense that there’s little an individual can do about national policy, or a sense that the problem is so big that individual action isn’t going to make a dent in it. I think AMS is right on that the issues she discusses require action on all of those fronts.

My Goodreads rating: 3 stars