A Study of the Feminine Mystique Source: International Socialist Review, Vol. The Feminine Mystique is an outstanding sociological study — an overdue challenge to the mercenary mythmakers who have invented the glorified image of the Happy Housewife Heroine and imposed it upon American women. The author, a mother of three children, analyzes the plight of women like herself who belong to the privileged upper middle strata of American society.
The average marriage age was twenty years old and dropping while the middle-class birth rate was exploding. Why were these young women so seemingly uninterested in having careers and educations, the very rights their suffragette mothers had worked so hard to secure?
Was this new generation of women really happier as housewives? Drawing on countless interviews with housewives, psychologists, editors, and professors, as well as her own personal experience, Betty Friedan concludes that millions of American housewives are suffering in silence from a terrible and mysterious sense of emptiness.
She was transformed by popular media into a domestic goddess—beautiful, feminine, and sublimely happy. Though she was educated, she chose to make her husband and children her career.
Amazing new appliances and products spared her from the drudgery of housework, allowing her to devote herself to being the perfect wife, the perfect mother, and, therefore, the perfect woman.
Friedan believes that her generation was among the first victims of the feminine mystique, which pressured and guilted promising young women like Friedan and her peers into abandoning their professional goals.
Friedan recounts her own regrettable decision to leave school after winning a fellowship that would have allowed her to get her doctorate degree and become a professional psychologist.
Women confronted by the feminine mystique, she argues, are frightened of appearing too committed to their education or career and warding off potential husbands. These women drop their own professional aspirations to become housewives and then, often years later, find themselves unsatisfied in their roles as professional homemakers.
Friedan traces the historical path that pushed the newly emancipated women of the s back into the domestic sphere. The early feminists of the nineteenth century were true revolutionaries, risking social ostracism, arrest, and even physical attack to challenge the degrading gender roles of the time.
Though this perception of feminism was inaccurate, Friedan observes that it persisted long after the first-wave feminists won the right to vote.
Friedan attributes part of the resilience of the feminine mystique to popular psychological and sociological theories that were often twisted and misrepresented in the media. According to Freud, the dissatisfaction of the Victorian woman was the result of her biological inferiority to man, rather than a legitimate frustration with her limited role in society.
Friedan argues that the uncontextualized adoption of these theories normalized the idea that a woman who wanted to be more than a housewife must be suffering from some form of neurosis.
Friedan acknowledges that psychology was not the only academic discipline that perpetuated the feminine mystique.
Many sociologists reinforced the limited role of women through functionalist theory. Social functionalists chose to study elements of a society by looking only at their current social function.
The functionalist approach trickled down through various disciplines, a phenomenon Friedan examines closely through the work of the anthropologist Margaret Mead.
In some ways, Mead elevated the woman by discussing the social significance of her ability to become pregnant. But, Friedan observes, in doing so Mead fell into the same type of thinking as Freud and the functionalists.
In defining women by their biology, these scholars trapped women in the roles of mate and mother, lending dangerous academic credibility to the feminine mystique. The apparent academic consensus regarding the role of women was accompanied by a major shift in the way women were being educated.
In the educational sphere, the feminine mystique became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Girls with high intelligence in childhood were discouraged from taking their educations too seriously for fear of scaring off potential boyfriends and husbands.The Feminine Mystique, by Betty Friedan, ushered in a second wave of feminist thought and progress in the United States.
The book’s overall message that the only acceptable role of housewife and mother does not fulfill women reached over one million readers in , a year after the book was published. - The Feminine Mystique, by Betty Friedan, London, Victor Gollancz LTD, , pp., ISBN ‘The Feminine Mystique’, first published in the year of , is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential books in the 20th century as well as in the history of feminism.
Essay on The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan; Essay on The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. Potter 1 Rebecca Potter Gray Section 12 May Primary Source Analysis on The Feminine Mystique The Feminine Mystique is the title of a book written by Betty Friedan who has also founded The National Organization for Women (NOW) to help.
The Feminine Mystique study guide contains a biography of Betty Friedan, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.
About The Feminine Mystique The Feminine Mystique Summary. Betty Friedan sums up the “faceless, depersonalized” sex-seeking of today as follows: “Instead of fulfilling the promise of infinite orgiastic bliss, sex in the America of the feminine mystique is becoming a strangely joyless national compulsion, if not a contemptuous mockery.
Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique: The Feminine Mystique is the title of a book written by Betty Friedan who also founded The National Organization for Women (NOW) to .