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The Feminine Mystique. IdentifierTheFeminineMystique. Identifier-arkark:// t1kh6wg OcrABBYY FineReader (Extended OCR). Landmark, groundbreaking, classic—these adjectives barely describe the earthshaking and long-lasting effects of Betty Friedan's The Feminine. Editorial Reviews. Review. “The Feminine Mystique forever changed the conversation as well eBook features: Highlight, take notes, and search in the book; In this edition, page numbers are just like the physical edition; Length: pages; Word Wise.
On the one hand, American men were upset at Friedan's suggestion that their housewives could possibly want anything more than to see their children off safely to school, to take care of their husbands after a long day at work, and to keep their houses spotless. At the same time, a distinct group of white, educated, middle-class women were overcome with a sense of gratitude. Friedan had explained their own, as yet unnamed, frustrations. Many historians have been fascinated with Friedan's life and her, often uncomfortable, involvement in the rebirth of feminist activism in the s. But Stephanie Coontz's A Strange Stirring takes the novel approach of presenting the history of the women whose experiences The Feminine Mystique recounted, alongside a biography of the book that "pulled the trigger on history" xv. Coontz concedes that even though The Feminine Mystique might feel dated to the modern reader, at the time it helped expose the inadequacy of the homemaker role, on its own, to provide women the kind of emotional and intellectual fulfillment they needed. Through a review of letters written to Friedan and oral histories conducted by the author, Coontz illustrates that many women who read Friedan's book were reassured that the isolation they felt taking care of home and family was not unique.
She notes that Freud saw women as childlike and as destined to be housewives, once pointing out that Freud wrote, "I believe that all reforming action in law and education would break down in front of the fact that, long before the age at which a man can earn a position in society, Nature has determined woman's destiny through beauty, charm, and sweetness.
Law and custom have much to give women that has been withheld from them, but the position of women will surely be what it is: Chapter 6: Friedan criticizes functionalism , which attempted to make the social sciences more credible by studying the institutions of society as if they were parts of a social body, as in biology.
Institutions were studied in terms of their function in society, and women were confined to their sexual biological roles as housewives and mothers as well as being told that doing otherwise would upset the social balance.
Friedan points out that this is unproven and that Margaret Mead , a prominent functionalist, had a flourishing career as an anthropologist. Chapter 7: Friedan discusses the change in women's education from the s to the early s, in which many women's schools concentrated on non-challenging classes that focused mostly on marriage, family, and other subjects deemed suitable for women, as educators influenced by functionalism felt that too much education would spoil women's femininity and capacity for sexual fulfillment.
Friedan says that this change in education arrested girls in their emotional development at a young age, because they never had to face the painful identity crisis and subsequent maturation that comes from dealing with many adult challenges.
Chapter 8: Friedan notes that the uncertainties and fears during World War II and the Cold War made Americans long for the comfort of home, so they tried to create an idealized home life with father as the breadwinner and mother as the housewife. Yet as Friedan shows, later studies found that overbearing mothers, not careerists, were the ones who raised maladjusted children.
Chapter 9: Friedan shows that advertisers tried to encourage housewives to think of themselves as professionals who needed many specialized products in order to do their jobs, while discouraging housewives from having actual careers, since that would mean they would not spend as much time and effort on housework and therefore would not download as many household products, cutting into advertisers' profits.
Chapter Friedan interviews several full-time housewives, finding that although they are not fulfilled by their housework, they are all extremely busy with it. She postulates that these women unconsciously stretch their home duties to fill the time available, because the feminine mystique has taught women that this is their role, and if they ever complete their tasks they will become unneeded.
Friedan notes that many housewives have sought fulfillment in sex, unable to find it in housework and children; Friedan notes that sex cannot fulfill all of a person's needs, and that attempts to make it do so often drive married women to have affairs or drive their husbands away as they become obsessed with sex.
Friedan discusses the fact that many children have lost interest in life or emotional growth, attributing the change to the mother's own lack of fulfillment, a side effect of the feminine mystique. When the mother lacks a self, Friedan notes, she often tries to live through her children, causing the children to lose their own sense of themselves as separate human beings with their own lives.
Friedan discusses Abraham Maslow 's hierarchy of needs and notes that women have been trapped at the basic, physiological level, expected to find their identity through their sexual role alone. Friedan says that women need meaningful work just as men do to achieve self-actualization, the highest level on the hierarchy of needs.
In the final chapter of The Feminine Mystique , Friedan discusses several case studies of women who have begun to go against the feminine mystique. She also advocates a new life plan for her women readers, including not viewing housework as a career, not trying to find total fulfillment through marriage and motherhood alone, and finding meaningful work that uses their full mental capacity. She discusses the conflicts that some women may face in this journey to self-actualization, including their own fears and resistance from others.
For each conflict, Friedan offers examples of women who have overcome it.
Friedan ends her book by promoting education and meaningful work as the ultimate method by which American women can avoid becoming trapped in the feminine mystique, calling for a drastic rethinking of what it means to be feminine, and offering several educational and occupational suggestions.
Friedan originally intended to write a sequel to The Feminine Mystique , which was to be called "Woman: The Fourth Dimension," but instead only wrote an article by that title, which appeared in the Ladies' Home Journal in June A Strange Stirring: Gerster, Patrick, and Cords, Nicholas. Brandywine Press, St. James, NY. Motherhood misconceived: You already recently rated this item. Your rating has been recorded. Write a review Rate this item: Preview this item Preview this item. The feminine mystique Author: Betty Friedan Publisher: New York: New Dell ed View all editions and formats Rating: Subjects Women -- Social conditions.
Women -- Psychology. Women -- United States. View all subjects More like this Similar Items. Find a copy online Links to this item Google. Allow this favorite library to be seen by others Keep this favorite library private. Find a copy in the library Finding libraries that hold this item Details Additional Physical Format: Print version: Friedan, Betty.
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