Betty Friedan's Feminine Mystique
Angelina C. Cosentino
JRNL B1 Media and Society – Professor Garcia
April 9th 2014
In 1957, Friedan was asked to conduct a survey of her former Smith College classmates for their 15th anniversary reunion; the results, in which she found that many of them were unhappy with their lives as housewives, prompted her to begin research for The Feminine Mystique, conducting interviews with other suburban housewives, as well as researching psychology, media, and advertising. She originally intended to publish an article on the topic, not a book, but no magazine would publish her article. In Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan wrote about women's inequality from men ...view middle of the document...
He is not just a substitute mother, even though he's ready and willing to do his share of bathing, feeding, comforting, and playing. He is a link with the outside world he works in. If in that world he is interested, courageous, tolerant, constructive, he will pass on these values to his children." (Friedan 1963)
No matter what, the men were in charge. They ruled the world. It's unbelievable to read that the only reason women would attend college was not for education; it was to find a husband. Men were on top of the good chain for women. They needed to find a husband. This book is believed to be the catalyst for second-wave feminism in the United States. Women didn't have any other choice. Being brought up believing when a woman grows up, they are to marry and have children. Going to college is what you had to do, graduating isn't. Being well educated is shown to be unfeminine. Men didn't enjoy women knowing information they knew. Men wanted women uneducated, men were supposed to be the only educated in the household. "Girls didn't get excited about things like that anymore. We don't want careers. Our parents expect us to go to college. Everybody goes. You're a social outcast at home if you don't But a girl who got serious about anything she studied- like wanting to go on and do research would be peculiar, unfeminine. I guess everybody wants to graduate with a diamond ring on her finger. That's the important thing." (Friedan 1963)
The Feminine Mystique begins with an introduction describing what Friedan called "the problem that has no name"—the widespread unhappiness of women in the 1950s and early 1960s. It discusses the lives of several housewives from around the United States who were unhappy despite living in material comfort and being married with children.
Chapter 1: Friedan points out that the average age of marriage was dropping and the birthrate was increasing for women throughout the 1950s, yet the widespread unhappiness of women persisted, although American culture insisted that fulfillment for women could be found in marriage and housewifery; this chapter concludes by declaring "We can no longer ignore that voice within women that says: 'I want something more than my husband and my children and my home.” (Friedan 1963)
Chapter 2: Friedan shows that the editorial decisions concerning women's magazines were being made mostly by men, who insisted on stories and articles that showed women as either happy housewives or unhappy, neurotic careerists, thus creating the "feminine mystique"—the idea that women were naturally fulfilled by devoting their lives to being housewives and mothers. Friedan notes that this is in contrast to the 1930s, at which time women's magazines often featured confident and independent heroines, many of whom were involved in careers.
Chapter 3: Friedan recalls her own decision to conform to society's expectations by giving up her promising career in psychology to raise children, and shows that other young...