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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 (61-66):
NWP
by Guerilla Girl on Feb. 12, 2013 at 5:12 PM
1 mom liked this

I understand you disagree. But you and those who also disagree have benefited tremendously from the movement that Frieman and Steinem championed, while still sitting back and criticising them. Many of us who appreciate what they did also love men and married men and consider our children blessings. We also deeply appreciate the doors these women opened for us and our daughters and we do not take that for granted.

Quoting SallyMJ:

I was taught Friedan's book in college in about half a dozen classes. We had reading assignments. Sociology - yes, I can understand. Why in anthropology, linguistics, lit classes - I have no idea, because they were not appropriate to the subject matter.

How about you? 

So yes, I understood it. A number of fellow classmates agreed with it. I did not - as we are allowed to disagree in a free society. 

So, yes - I did understand it - and no, I didn't demonize it - just disagreed with it.

If you read my comment, you can see that.

Quoting NWP:

I am just curious Sally, if you were actually there...Or if you are one of the post-feminist conservatives who have benefited from this movement while demonizing it without fully understanding it.

No one is saying Friedan was a single action working in a vacuum. Much has to come together in just the right ways to make something like this happen. Unfortunately, many girls born since have forgotten what it was actually like before women like Friedan spoke up and have instead romanticized an oppressive period.

Quoting SallyMJ:

I don't think Friedan ever had a clue what "feminine mystique" is - even though it was the title of her book.

Don't get me wrong - There has been a lot of progress for women in the economic / jobs world - and I think women across the nation are very appreciative of that. But I don't think that is solely because of Friedan and her book.

A lot of people came to realize at that time that the subjugation of women was similar to the subjugation of black Americans - and made corrections to society.

Most of the people I know who support equal rights for women don't burn their bras or  march on Washington. They believe men are equal members of society, and marry men - not believing that "a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle". And they believe children are a blessing, not an inconvenience.

And we love chivalry. Men and women are equal in worth and rights - but different, obviously.

True feminine mystique is a beautiful thing that doesn't need to be bashed over the heads of men.





Neon Washable Paint

Billiejeens
by Ruby Member on Feb. 12, 2013 at 5:14 PM
1 mom liked this

 

Occupy!

(wait, that's not right)

Quoting NWP:

I understand you disagree. But you and those who also disagree have benefited tremendously from the movement that Frieman and Steinem championed, while still sitting back and criticising them. Many of us who appreciate what they did also love men and married men and consider our children blessings. We also deeply appreciate the doors these women opened for us and our daughters and we do not take that for granted.

Quoting SallyMJ:

I was taught Friedan's book in college in about half a dozen classes. We had reading assignments. Sociology - yes, I can understand. Why in anthropology, linguistics, lit classes - I have no idea, because they were not appropriate to the subject matter.

How about you? 

So yes, I understood it. A number of fellow classmates agreed with it. I did not - as we are allowed to disagree in a free society. 

So, yes - I did understand it - and no, I didn't demonize it - just disagreed with it.

If you read my comment, you can see that.

Quoting NWP:

I am just curious Sally, if you were actually there...Or if you are one of the post-feminist conservatives who have benefited from this movement while demonizing it without fully understanding it.

No one is saying Friedan was a single action working in a vacuum. Much has to come together in just the right ways to make something like this happen. Unfortunately, many girls born since have forgotten what it was actually like before women like Friedan spoke up and have instead romanticized an oppressive period.

Quoting SallyMJ:

I don't think Friedan ever had a clue what "feminine mystique" is - even though it was the title of her book.

Don't get me wrong - There has been a lot of progress for women in the economic / jobs world - and I think women across the nation are very appreciative of that. But I don't think that is solely because of Friedan and her book.

A lot of people came to realize at that time that the subjugation of women was similar to the subjugation of black Americans - and made corrections to society.

Most of the people I know who support equal rights for women don't burn their bras or  march on Washington. They believe men are equal members of society, and marry men - not believing that "a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle". And they believe children are a blessing, not an inconvenience.

And we love chivalry. Men and women are equal in worth and rights - but different, obviously.

True feminine mystique is a beautiful thing that doesn't need to be bashed over the heads of men.


 

 



 

Debrowsky
by Silver Member on Feb. 13, 2013 at 8:42 AM



Quoting Billiejeens:



Quoting Debrowsky:



Quoting Billiejeens:


Undeniable truth of life - not originally mine - but undeniable still.

Like most Liberal ideas, Feminism is exactly opposite of what it sounds like it should be.

Feminism was invented to allow unattractive women access to the mainstream of society.

Quoting SallyMJ:

I don't think Friedan ever had a clue what "feminine mystique" is - even though it was the title of her book.

Don't get me wrong - There has been a lot of progress for women in the economic / jobs world - and I think women across the nation are very appreciative of that. But I don't think that is solely because of Friedan and her book.

A lot of people came to realize at that time that the subjugation of women was similar to the subjugation of black Americans - and made corrections to society.

Most of the people I know who support equal rights for women don't burn their bras or  march on Washington. They believe men are equal members of society, and marry men - not believing that "a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle". And they believe children are a blessing, not an inconvenience.

And we love chivalry. Men and women are equal in worth and rights - but different, obviously.

True feminine mystique is a beautiful thing that doesn't need to be bashed over the heads of men.




you -me        out in the parking lot again.


 What do I did?

 that.    monkey     


Billiejeens
by Ruby Member on Feb. 13, 2013 at 8:43 AM

 


Quoting Debrowsky:

 

 

Quoting Billiejeens:

 

 

Quoting Debrowsky:

 

 

Quoting Billiejeens:

 

Undeniable truth of life - not originally mine - but undeniable still.

Like most Liberal ideas, Feminism is exactly opposite of what it sounds like it should be.

Feminism was invented to allow unattractive women access to the mainstream of society.

Quoting SallyMJ:

I don't think Friedan ever had a clue what "feminine mystique" is - even though it was the title of her book.

Don't get me wrong - There has been a lot of progress for women in the economic / jobs world - and I think women across the nation are very appreciative of that. But I don't think that is solely because of Friedan and her book.

A lot of people came to realize at that time that the subjugation of women was similar to the subjugation of black Americans - and made corrections to society.

Most of the people I know who support equal rights for women don't burn their bras or  march on Washington. They believe men are equal members of society, and marry men - not believing that "a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle". And they believe children are a blessing, not an inconvenience.

And we love chivalry. Men and women are equal in worth and rights - but different, obviously.

True feminine mystique is a beautiful thing that doesn't need to be bashed over the heads of men.

 

 

 

you -me        out in the parking lot again.

 

 What do I did?

 that.    monkey     

 

That wouldn't include you on your worst day.

 

SuDoNim
by Member on Feb. 13, 2013 at 8:52 AM
2 moms liked this

I'm going to come back and comment after I've had a chance to read through al of the responses, but I just wanted to say that this warms my heart :) After a recent thread on Mom Confessions regarding "traditional" gender roles, I had almost lost hope in fellow women. 

Quoting NWP:

Unfortunately, many girls born since have forgotten what it was actually like before women like Friedan spoke up and have instead romanticized an oppressive period.

Debrowsky
by Silver Member on Feb. 13, 2013 at 8:54 AM
1 mom liked this

why thank you daaaaling!


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