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News & Politics News & Politics

At 50, Does 'Feminine Mystique' Still Roar?

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At 50, Does 'Feminine Mystique' Still Roar?...

Leading supporters of the Equal Rights Amendment march in Washington on Sunday, July 9, 1978, urging Congress to extend the time for ratification of the ERA. From left: Gloria Steinem, Dick Gregory, Betty Friedan, Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman, D-N.Y., Rep. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., Rep. Margaret Heckler, R-Mass.

Leading supporters of the Equal Rights Amendment march in Washington on Sunday, July 9, 1978, urging Congress to extend the time for ratification of the ERA. From left: Gloria Steinem, Dick Gregory, Betty Friedan, Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman, D-N.Y., Rep. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., Rep. Margaret Heckler, R-Mass.

Dennis Cook/AP

In 1963, Betty Friedan called it "the problem that has no name" and then proceeded to name it — and the name stuck. The problem was "The Feminine Mystique," which was also the title of her groundbreaking book, published 50 years ago.

Since its first publication in 1963, millions of people have read The Feminine Mystique. These days, many people read it in college — often in women's studies classes. Even so, when we talked with some young women in downtown Washington, D.C., many knew little or nothing about it.

But today's young woman can be forgiven for not feeling the urgency to read The Feminine Mystique that their mothers might have felt. It's probably hard for them to understand the way things were when Friedan decided she had enough.

"There's very seldom that you get a book that is so of the moment," says New York Times columnist Gail Collins, who was a teenager when the book first came out.

It was post-World War II America. The suburbs were growing exponentially and the economy was booming. A lot of women had worked outside the home during the war, and a significant number of women had gotten a college education. Now, they were all being told to stay home and find their fulfillment in taking care of their husbands and children.

"The moment was so pregnant and ready for an explosion," Collins says, "that all you needed was somebody just sitting there and saying: Look at that ad. They think you are so stupid. They have contempt for you. They hate you. Take look at that again. That's all you needed."

When Friedan wrote The Feminine Mystique she was both a suburban housewife and a freelance writer who worked mostly for women's magazines, which were run by men. The book, says Collins, was neither a sociological tract nor a political manifesto.

Betty Friedan, co-founder of National Organization for Women (NOW), speaks during the Women's Strike for Equality event in New York on Aug. 26, 1970, the 50th anniversary of women's suffrage.

AP

"It's totally personal," Collins says. "You know the great criticisms of the book over the years — all of which are certainly true — that it didn't take into account working women, that it didn't take into account minority women, those people are totally absent. Laws are totally absent, discrimination in the workplace, none of that stuff. It's all a very personal, white middle class, college educated woman's howl of misery and anger at the place where she has found herself."

Hanna Rosin, author of The End of Men, was in her 20s when she first read the book. She was surprised by how personal it was and by Friedan's anger as she systematically laid out the case against a male-dominated society that was determined to keep women in their place.

"We don't write with that kind of anger and rage anymore," Rosin says. "It's not exactly sociological. It takes on every element of society and explains who it colluded to create this set of expectations for woman which were fake. I mean you suddenly feel like ... you have been caught in a conspiracy. ... It came from the magazines, it came from the universities, it came from our fathers, it came from our mothers, it came from grade school. ... It came from every level that there was — this collusion to feed this message."

Neon Washable Paint

by on Feb. 10, 2013 at 8:38 PM
Replies (11-20):
romalove
by SenseandSensibility on Feb. 11, 2013 at 11:11 AM


Quoting Billiejeens:



Quoting romalove:


Quoting Clairwil:

Quoting romalove:

The truth is, having legislative breakthroughs are important but they only codify things, they don't change human feelings.  There is a lag between those events and the actual outcomes that they are supposed to inspire.

Thus the different waves of feminism.

Equality in legislation was never a panacea.  It was a starting point, a lever, an opening of an entry gate.


I think, though, that because of the religious implications of gender differences and place that religions put on the sexes, the movement will have difficulty with momentum.  It's hard to fight those who think God doesn't want anything different.



 No you are not fixated on being an anti-religious militant zealot, where would I have gotten that?

I have no idea.  This isn't anti-religious, this is factual.  Discuss please how it's incorrect.

Clairwil
by Platinum Member on Feb. 11, 2013 at 12:17 PM
Quoting Billiejeens:
Quoting romalove:

It's hard to fight those who think God doesn't want anything different.

 No you are not fixated on being an anti-religious militant zealot, where would I have gotten that?

She didn't say all religions or all religious people think that way.

But you have to admit that some do.  For example, these people:

Submission of Christian wives to their husbands.

Billiejeens
by Ruby Member on Feb. 11, 2013 at 2:09 PM

 


Quoting Clairwil:

Quoting Billiejeens:
Quoting romalove:

It's hard to fight those who think God doesn't want anything different.

 No you are not fixated on being an anti-religious militant zealot, where would I have gotten that?

She didn't say all religions or all religious people think that way.

But you have to admit that some do.  For example, these people:

Submission of Christian wives to their husbands.


 What business is it of either of yours?

If you don't want to be submissive, don't be.

Clairwil
by Platinum Member on Feb. 11, 2013 at 2:17 PM
1 mom liked this
Quoting Billiejeens:
Quoting Clairwil:
Quoting Billiejeens:
Quoting romalove:

It's hard to fight those who think God doesn't want anything different.

 No you are not fixated on being an anti-religious militant zealot, where would I have gotten that?

She didn't say all religions or all religious people think that way.

But you have to admit that some do.  For example, these people:

Submission of Christian wives to their husbands.

 What business is it of either of yours?

If you don't want to be submissive, don't be.

There are people out there who think, for religious reasons, that ALL wives ought to be submissive to thier husbands.

And these people vote, report for newspapers, spend money to fund particular organisations, and in many other ways influence society towards their view.

Billiejeens
by Ruby Member on Feb. 11, 2013 at 2:33 PM

 

 

Quoting Clairwil:

Quoting Billiejeens:
Quoting Clairwil:
Quoting Billiejeens:
Quoting romalove:

It's hard to fight those who think God doesn't want anything different.

 No you are not fixated on being an anti-religious militant zealot, where would I have gotten that?

She didn't say all religions or all religious people think that way.

But you have to admit that some do.  For example, these people:

Submission of Christian wives to their husbands.

 What business is it of either of yours?

If you don't want to be submissive, don't be.

There are people out there who think, for religious reasons, that ALL wives ought to be submissive to thier husbands.

And these people vote, report for newspapers, spend money to fund particular organisations, and in many other ways influence society towards their view.

 

 More, more than offset by the number of people who think that all women ought to be promiscuous tramps.

And these people vote, report for newspapers, spend their money to fund particular organizations, and in many other ways influence society towards their view.

Clairwil
by Platinum Member on Feb. 11, 2013 at 2:57 PM
2 moms liked this
Quoting Billiejeens:
Quoting Clairwil:

There are people out there who think, for religious reasons, that ALL wives ought to be submissive to thier husbands.

And these people vote, report for newspapers, spend money to fund particular organisations, and in many other ways influence society towards their view.

 More, more than offset by the number of people who think that all women ought to be promiscuous tramps.

And these people vote, report for newspapers, spend their money to fund particular organizations, and in many other ways influence society towards their view.

How interesting that you see "women being submissive to their husbands" and "women being promiscuous tramps" as direct opposites.

Billiejeens
by Ruby Member on Feb. 11, 2013 at 3:01 PM

 


Quoting Clairwil:

Quoting Billiejeens:
Quoting Clairwil:

There are people out there who think, for religious reasons, that ALL wives ought to be submissive to thier husbands.

And these people vote, report for newspapers, spend money to fund particular organisations, and in many other ways influence society towards their view.

 More, more than offset by the number of people who think that all women ought to be promiscuous tramps.

And these people vote, report for newspapers, spend their money to fund particular organizations, and in many other ways influence society towards their view.

How interesting that you see "women being submissive to their husbands" and "women being promiscuous tramps" as direct opposites.


 Almost as interesting as the fact that you don't.

NWP
by Guerilla Girl on Feb. 11, 2013 at 3:07 PM
1 mom liked this

What you describe is the Madonna/Whore view of women. Are you familiar with that?

Quoting Billiejeens:



Quoting Clairwil:

Quoting Billiejeens:
Quoting Clairwil:

There are people out there who think, for religious reasons, that ALL wives ought to be submissive to thier husbands.

And these people vote, report for newspapers, spend money to fund particular organisations, and in many other ways influence society towards their view.

 More, more than offset by the number of people who think that all women ought to be promiscuous tramps.

And these people vote, report for newspapers, spend their money to fund particular organizations, and in many other ways influence society towards their view.

How interesting that you see "women being submissive to their husbands" and "women being promiscuous tramps" as direct opposites.


 Almost as interesting as the fact that you don't.


Neon Washable Paint

Billiejeens
by Ruby Member on Feb. 11, 2013 at 3:13 PM

 

I am.

I am also familiar with what started this converstion, as in Roma and Clairwill's hatred for religion's influence on society. Regardless of my personal ideas, the comments show the other side of the coin.

Quoting NWP:

What you describe is the Madonna/Whore view of women. Are you familiar with that?

Quoting Billiejeens:

 

 

Quoting Clairwil:

Quoting Billiejeens:
Quoting Clairwil:

There are people out there who think, for religious reasons, that ALL wives ought to be submissive to thier husbands.

And these people vote, report for newspapers, spend money to fund particular organisations, and in many other ways influence society towards their view.

 More, more than offset by the number of people who think that all women ought to be promiscuous tramps.

And these people vote, report for newspapers, spend their money to fund particular organizations, and in many other ways influence society towards their view.

How interesting that you see "women being submissive to their husbands" and "women being promiscuous tramps" as direct opposites.

 

 Almost as interesting as the fact that you don't.



 

NWP
by Guerilla Girl on Feb. 11, 2013 at 3:15 PM

So you are saying that your "side of the coin" involves women being one or the other?

Because this ties into the subject of the original article.

Quoting Billiejeens:


I am.

I am also familiar with what started this converstion, as in Roma and Clairwill's hatred for religion's influence on society. Regardless of my personal ideas, the comments show the other side of the coin.

Quoting NWP:

What you describe is the Madonna/Whore view of women. Are you familiar with that?

Quoting Billiejeens:



Quoting Clairwil:

Quoting Billiejeens:
Quoting Clairwil:

There are people out there who think, for religious reasons, that ALL wives ought to be submissive to thier husbands.

And these people vote, report for newspapers, spend money to fund particular organisations, and in many other ways influence society towards their view.

 More, more than offset by the number of people who think that all women ought to be promiscuous tramps.

And these people vote, report for newspapers, spend their money to fund particular organizations, and in many other ways influence society towards their view.

How interesting that you see "women being submissive to their husbands" and "women being promiscuous tramps" as direct opposites.


 Almost as interesting as the fact that you don't.





Neon Washable Paint

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