Credited with sparking the second wave of Feminism and published in 1963, “The Feminine Mystique” by Betty Friedan is a compelling read.
Delving into “the problem with no name” facing American women in the 50s and 60s, The Feminine Mystique gives fact after fact describing why women are unhappy as housewives.
Friedan interviews many women frustrated with their everyday routine of getting the children ready for school, coming home to try and find something that needs cleaning, picking up the children and making dinner.
Friedan’s argument is that women have won the right to vote but haven’t really done much since.
Comparing the “career women” of the 30s to the “occupation: housewife” women of the 60s, Friedan’s own frustration is evident. Their heroes in magazine literature were super-housewives, complete with a new vacuum.
As an 18-year-old finishing my first semester of my senior year of high school, I found this book incredibly troubling. It’s no secret that I believe in equality and the Feminist movement. I had to double back multiple times when reading “The Feminine Mystique” because I was so flabbergasted at how women were treated. I can hardly imagine leaving school right now to marry a man (that I probably barely know!).
Many women went to college to find a man, although there were some who went to learn.
The women who went to college to learn usually ended up in a housewife situation despite their education.
I felt so much pity for the women who regretted not making something of their education.
Being a housewife definitely isn’t a bad thing, but having the option to have a career is vital.
It was frustrating to me that women were expected to marry so young, especially after their mothers had careers in pre-World War I America.
I can’t decide what’s worse — the relevance Friedan’s message still holds today or the lives of housewives in the 50s.
“The Feminine Mystique” is important for people of all genders and identities to read. It will change the way you think about Feminism. At some points the book was a little dull with fact after fact being listed, but overall, it was a fascinating call to action.