The Feminine Mystique

Betty Friedan wrote ‘The Feminine Mystique’ in 1963. This is a non-fiction novel. The book focuses on feminism in the United States of America. Friedan conducted a survey of her former classmates during their 15th anniversary reunion and found that most of them hated their lives as housewives. This made Friedan conduct interviews with other women who were housewives in the suburban areas, so ran introduction about the spread of unhappiness amongst women in the 1950s and 1960s. Friedan explains that despite living in material comfort, the housewives from America were unhappy. The situation in some states of America, whereby women were not allowed to be employed without permission from their husbands, inspired Friedan to write her book. The unmarried women in most of the states of America were not allowed to use contraceptives. This discrimination towards women motivated Friedan to write ‘The Feminine Mystique’. Friedan was the founding member of the National Organization of Women.

The Feminine Mystique explains the problem that emanated in the post-world war two societies. Friedan refers to the problem as “the problem that has no name.” The problem originated from the expectation in which American women in the society. The Feminine Mystique depicts that in the 1930s; women got an education and fulfilled the careers of their choice. In the latter years, women sought personal fulfillment though, in the 1950s, it was the time of regression. The number of women who went to college had reduced, and the average age of marriage of the middle class women had dropped. The book by Betty advocates that women could no longer make a choice to be housewives, but rather develop their intellectual abilities to enable fulfill their potentials. Betty explains the hierarchy of needs according to Maslow. She depicts that women are trapped a psychological level where they are expected to find their sexual role through the act of sex alone. She asserts that just like men, women need meaningful work in order to achieve the highest hierarchy of needs level, which is self-actualization.

Friedan was a graduate who, who had been working successfully for ten years. Regardless of her success, Friedan’s life could never be like that of her husband Carl. This was one of the reasons, why Friedan wrote the book ‘The Feminine Mystique’. Friedan was educated, and had a husband who was financially stable. Friedan enjoyed her job and her leisure too in writing. She managed to take care of her children, ensuring that they were healthy. Considering the material measure, and the aspirations by most people, Friedan was privileged. However, despite all these privileges, Friedan was not at peace with her life and the life of fellow women. This inspired her to write the book. Friedan found it a challenge to explain this situation, at that time when she wrote her book. Though Friedan appreciated the nineteenth amendment that gave women the right to vote, she criticized the lack of laws against gender discrimination. This influenced Betty.

The Feminine Mystique led to the formation of the second-wave feminist movement. The United States history students have used the book as a study material during their classes. Friedan’s book inspired women and encouraged them to pursue their expectations in life. According to ‘The Feminine Mystique’, women in the United States could only enjoy their status of being women if only they left the notions of feminist that was in the society. The publication of ‘The Feminine Mystique’ brought fame to Friedan. Because of the book, she ended up being the first president of the National Organization for Women. Friedan created and named the National Organization for Women. Betty wrote about a problem that no one had written about before. The problem remained un-named until Betty gave it a name. This shows that Betty opened the door to revisionism.

The fact that ‘The Feminine Mystique’ fights for the rights of American women who had been given the role of housewives is a good idea. Through this book, women were able to learn their rights and notice the benefits of education. Nevertheless, the book is biased as it represents only the middle class women without focusing on other women from other races. The intentions of Betty were to uplift the position of women in the society. Friedan has been successful because, through her book, the National Organization for Women was formed, which catered for the welfare of women in the United States.

Friedan is biased in her works. This is because, in her book The ‘Feminine Mystique’, Betty focuses only on the white women, who are of the middle class. She gives no attention to situations encountered by women from other races and in less stable economic situations. In her works, Betty portrays prejudice against homosexuality. Although Friedan presents herself as a suburban housewife, she involves herself in labor journalism, and radical politics. The society has discriminated women. In her book, Betty asserts that advertisers have given encouragement to housewives by making them think that they are professionals who require specialized products to perform their jobs. Women have been discouraged from having actual careers.

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