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Slaying the Mermaid Women and the Culture of Sacrifice

Stephanie Golden

49 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0517708124 / ISBN 13: 9780517708125
Published by Harmony Books, 1998
Used Condition: Fine Hardcover
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Fine in Fine DJ, only very slight wrinkling along top edge Studies the cultural role of sacrificing oneself for others in women's lives. 323p. Bookseller Inventory # HEROES003849I

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Slaying the Mermaid Women and the Culture of...

Publisher: Harmony Books

Publication Date: 1998

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Edition: 1st Edition.

About this title


Slaying the Mermaid addresses the great numbers of women, of all ages, who find themselves constantly disregarding their own well-being to put the needs of others first--even against their will and contrary to their principles--because they cannot face the guilt they would feel if they didn't.
Mothers subordinate their smallest needs to their children's; daughters assume the burden of caring for elderly parents; wives sacrifice their careers for their husband's; in the office, women put in extra effort for their coworkers or the boss without making demands for themselves.
Despite the great changes over the past thirty years in our ideas about women's role in society and their potential for achievement, many continue to sabotage their own interests, stunt their emotional and intellectual growth, and deny themselves the full richness of life due to excessive self-sacrifice.
Drawing on conversations with experts and a diverse array of women, Stephanie Golden examines the dichotomy between selfhood and sacrifice. Using the image of Hans Christian Andersen's Little Mermaid, the ultimate ideal of the self-sacrificing woman who gave up her voice and her life for an unrequited love, Golden offers a new paradigm for women: in order to run with the wolves, you must first slay the mermaid.
Golden helps women become conscious of self-defeating behavior that they may have been blind to or simply ignored. This book will help them reclaim their energy, creativity, and identity, while rediscovering the original, empowering meaning of sacrifice as an expansive and self-fulfilling act.


Ah, the nobility--or is it futility?--of sacrifice. Hans Christian Andersen's Little Mermaid willingly traded her voice and sensual, seagoing tail for feet that bled pitifully as she trailed her oblivious, beloved Prince. French philosopher Simone Weil was literally consumed by her fervid wish to be one with all suffering souls. And ordinary women sacrifice piece after piece of their bodies, dreams, and lives every day in search of acceptance or in service of others.

The fluid, engaging prose and high-mindedness of Slaying the Mermaid is a welcome approach to subject matter that could have been the centerpiece of a talk-show trauma fest ("Women Who Give Too Much and Keep Too Little for Themselves"). Stephanie Golden sheds light on the roots of sacrifice and the pleasures reaped from denial while shuttling between myths and religious mysticism, popular culture, and psychology. The women she interviews speak more often of selfless, often depressingly pointless, sacrificial acts than of feminist--or, rather, human--desires for self-realization. The ideal, Golden suggests, is to live mindfully, as in the teachings of Buddhism, walking away from sacrifices that leave one utterly empty and choosing those that connect us to a larger world through a replenishing cycle of nurturance. --Francesca Coltrera

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