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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 (41-50):
NWP
by Guerilla Girl on Feb. 11, 2013 at 6:45 PM

For some reason this seems to be coming to a hot bed peak in public discussions...something I thought we would have put behind us. As for expecting to be all things, I see a bit of a move away from that and more attention being paid to finding balance. More husbands and dads help with home and children now than ever before in my observation. We still have a long way to go, especially in the work place...but in the 1970's and 1980's we were truly expected to do it all by ourselves.


Quoting bluerooffarm:

 I think we've gotten even messed up in the past 10-15 years.  Instead of picking one side of this bi-polar mess in the media, we are often expected to be both.  The terms a lady in the street and a freak in the bedroom.  The idea that you (general) should be both the CEO of a company and clean the whole house.  These ideas proliferate in the commercials we see, the magazines that we read, and especially here on CM.  We moms are horrendous to one another, constantly putting down the choices of others instead of realizing that we should make the best decisions for our own family and give each other the benefit of the doubt that they are also making the best decision for their family.  The stupid mommy wars. 

Quoting NWP:

I think it is more than just a little....And it is that black and white concept that the feminist movement fought back when it was a more socially accepted social norm.

Defining women in these narrow categories is something we still continue to fight against...and something that I think many young women have forgotten and take for granted what it was like before we were able to broaden that view.

Quoting Billiejeens:


No, that's a little too black and white.

Nothing is static either, one could go from one extreme at 16 to the other at 30.

Or remain somewhere in between.

Quoting NWP:

You gave an accurate, although superficial, description of the sexual dysfunction.

And the previous discussion referred to women as subservient "good wives" or amoral promiscuous tramps, yes?

I am simply asking if this is how you define women in general, as a general truth? It is actually a simple question.....

 


Neon Washable Paint

Clairwil
by Gold Member on Feb. 11, 2013 at 7:15 PM
1 mom liked this
Quoting NWP:
Quoting Billiejeens:
Quoting Clairwil:

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.

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

No, what she's depicting is worse than that.

The Madonna in the Madonna/Whore view is the untouchable, non-sexual, pure vision of a woman.  She becomes (irreversibly) The Whore the moment she reveals sexual desire or enjoyment (or, at the extremes, anything less than pitying disgust for the whole idea of sex).

In the 'Billiejeens view', women are base creatures incapable of keeping their legs together unless controlled by the will of the man, her superior.

NWP
by Guerilla Girl on Feb. 11, 2013 at 7:22 PM
1 mom liked this
I think you give her too much credit for simple trolling. Lol

Quoting Clairwil:


Quoting NWP:
Quoting Billiejeens:
Quoting Clairwil:



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.

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

No, what she's depicting is worse than that.

The Madonna in the Madonna/Whore view is the untouchable, non-sexual, pure vision of a woman.  She becomes (irreversibly) The Whore the moment she reveals sexual desire or enjoyment (or, at the extremes, anything less than pitying disgust for the whole idea of sex).

In the 'Billiejeens view', women are base creatures incapable of keeping their legs together unless controlled by the will of the man, her superior.


Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
Billiejeens
by Ruby Member on Feb. 12, 2013 at 8:32 AM

 

Interesting, now we are quibbling  over the amount that the word little represents.

Quoting NWP:

I think it is more than just a little....And it is that black and white concept that the feminist movement fought back when it was a more socially accepted social norm.

Defining women in these narrow categories is something we still continue to fight against...and something that I think many young women have forgotten and take for granted what it was like before we were able to broaden that view.

Quoting Billiejeens:

 

No, that's a little too black and white.

Nothing is static either, one could go from one extreme at 16 to the other at 30.

Or remain somewhere in between.

Quoting NWP:

You gave an accurate, although superficial, description of the sexual dysfunction.

And the previous discussion referred to women as subservient "good wives" or amoral promiscuous tramps, yes?

I am simply asking if this is how you define women in general, as a general truth? It is actually a simple question.....


 

Billiejeens
by Ruby Member on Feb. 12, 2013 at 8:34 AM

 

Did you sacrifice it in some anti-religion ceremony?

Quoting romalove:

Woe is me. I am goat less LOL.

Quoting NWP:

I think she is trying to get your goat.

Quoting romalove:


 

romalove
by SenseandSensibility on Feb. 12, 2013 at 8:38 AM
2 moms liked this


Quoting Billiejeens:


Did you sacrifice it in some anti-religion ceremony?

Quoting romalove:

Woe is me. I am goat less LOL.

Quoting NWP:

I think she is trying to get your goat.

Quoting romalove:



I donated it to charity.  I'm a philanthropic atheist.

Billiejeens
by Ruby Member on Feb. 12, 2013 at 8:39 AM

 


Quoting Clairwil:

Quoting NWP:
Quoting Billiejeens:
Quoting Clairwil:

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.

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

No, what she's depicting is worse than that.

The Madonna in the Madonna/Whore view is the untouchable, non-sexual, pure vision of a woman.  She becomes (irreversibly) The Whore the moment she reveals sexual desire or enjoyment (or, at the extremes, anything less than pitying disgust for the whole idea of sex).  No, I explained the real word application of the view - your scientific views on this are as meaningless as your Climate Change Hoaxing.

In the 'Billiejeens view', women are base creatures incapable of keeping their legs together unless controlled by the will of the man, her superior. Kinky, sure, probably not satisfying for more than a (long_ weekend though.


 

bluerooffarm
by Silver Member on Feb. 12, 2013 at 10:12 AM
3 moms liked this

 In real world application, I agree.  However in the commercials and magazines our teen girls are reading, it is still very unbalanced. It is still about staying young and sexy forever but still being driven outside the home, it still portrays the woman as the cleaner (how many commercials show the men cleaning the kitchen, cooking supper, etc) the messages we are showing our young women are still far too one sided IMO.

Quoting NWP:

For some reason this seems to be coming to a hot bed peak in public discussions...something I thought we would have put behind us. As for expecting to be all things, I see a bit of a move away from that and more attention being paid to finding balance. More husbands and dads help with home and children now than ever before in my observation. We still have a long way to go, especially in the work place...but in the 1970's and 1980's we were truly expected to do it all by ourselves.


Quoting bluerooffarm:

 I think we've gotten even messed up in the past 10-15 years.  Instead of picking one side of this bi-polar mess in the media, we are often expected to be both.  The terms a lady in the street and a freak in the bedroom.  The idea that you (general) should be both the CEO of a company and clean the whole house.  These ideas proliferate in the commercials we see, the magazines that we read, and especially here on CM.  We moms are horrendous to one another, constantly putting down the choices of others instead of realizing that we should make the best decisions for our own family and give each other the benefit of the doubt that they are also making the best decision for their family.  The stupid mommy wars. 

Quoting NWP:

I think it is more than just a little....And it is that black and white concept that the feminist movement fought back when it was a more socially accepted social norm.

Defining women in these narrow categories is something we still continue to fight against...and something that I think many young women have forgotten and take for granted what it was like before we were able to broaden that view.

Quoting Billiejeens:

 

No, that's a little too black and white.

Nothing is static either, one could go from one extreme at 16 to the other at 30.

Or remain somewhere in between.

Quoting NWP:

You gave an accurate, although superficial, description of the sexual dysfunction.

And the previous discussion referred to women as subservient "good wives" or amoral promiscuous tramps, yes?

I am simply asking if this is how you define women in general, as a general truth? It is actually a simple question.....

 


 

momov4888
by Member on Feb. 12, 2013 at 1:19 PM
3 moms liked this

As one who was THERE, I have to say that women HAVE come a long way. And we have a long way to go. My daughter, almost 30, is a feminist in that she relishes her feminity. She also had a better time in a recent marsthon than her boyfriend, finished her Masters and is choosing more higher education.  Her biggest fan besides me? Her boyfriend. And that's where we can see the changes. Feminism isn't about becoming more like a man, a belief held then and still alive today. It's about being a woman, the woman you want and need to be, the woman you have the RIGHT to be.

When Betty wrote 'Feminine Mystique', she had to be angry. She had to ROAR.  We didn't burn bras because we needed to keep warm-we were making a HUGE statement.   At the time, women were not encouraged to do much more than be at home. When a woman DID step out of the 'mold', it was gossip worthy for weeks. And silently, women were screaming within.

What we fought so hard for then, many SEEM to take for granted today. But my daughter knows, because I taught her, women have had to fight and equality is still a work in progress. Her friends are very aware of the history of feminism.   History itself shows the times America has changed and how that change came about. From the American Revolution, Civil War, sufferagettes,  desegregation, ERA and more, we the people made the difference and in most cases, we had to ROAR.

Does the 'Feminine Mystique' still roar at 50? You betcha, babe!

NWP
by Guerilla Girl on Feb. 12, 2013 at 1:29 PM
1 mom liked this

I am in love with your response.


Quoting momov4888:

As one who was THERE, I have to say that women HAVE come a long way. And we have a long way to go. My daughter, almost 30, is a feminist in that she relishes her feminity. She also had a better time in a recent marsthon than her boyfriend, finished her Masters and is choosing more higher education.  Her biggest fan besides me? Her boyfriend. And that's where we can see the changes. Feminism isn't about becoming more like a man, a belief held then and still alive today. It's about being a woman, the woman you want and need to be, the woman you have the RIGHT to be.

When Betty wrote 'Feminine Mystique', she had to be angry. She had to ROAR.  We didn't burn bras because we needed to keep warm-we were making a HUGE statement.   At the time, women were not encouraged to do much more than be at home. When a woman DID step out of the 'mold', it was gossip worthy for weeks. And silently, women were screaming within.

What we fought so hard for then, many SEEM to take for granted today. But my daughter knows, because I taught her, women have had to fight and equality is still a work in progress. Her friends are very aware of the history of feminism.   History itself shows the times America has changed and how that change came about. From the American Revolution, Civil War, sufferagettes,  desegregation, ERA and more, we the people made the difference and in most cases, we had to ROAR.

Does the 'Feminine Mystique' still roar at 50? You betcha, babe!


Neon Washable Paint

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