The Feminine Mystique

So, in the course of reviewing another book, I read The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. I read it this time because the book that I had picked to read ws a biography of the book – namely its impact on the women that read it – but that’s perhaps more appropriate for the review blog that I have. For those of you that don’t know, The Feminine Mystique was published in 1963 and written by Betty Friedan.  It focused on women that were educated but were “just” housewives and why they were seemingly so dissatisfied with their lives, even though they had everything that society at the time told them they should have – family, home, children.

I had read the book before – maybe in college or right before I went to college – and was like “so what?”  I read the book again, now, years later and at a different point in my life.  I get the impact that it had now – she was making the point that women in her position (upper and middle class, white, educated) didn’t have a choice as to whether to go into the workforce.  And she’s right, they didn’t have the option.  Her work was one of the ways that women figured out that they didn’t have a choice and began to talk about it.  It started a dialogue and I respect and appreciate that because it’s because of her that we now have a choice.

But there are things that really bothered me about this book. Aside from the impact that it had, it didn’t really resonate with me – the issues that she talked about are seemingly not applicable to me.  There are other issues that need to be resolved now – the mom that tries to have it all, the struggles of a stay at home mom that has chosen to stay at home but who feels that her decision was unsupported.  Also, it didn’t look at minority women or women who *had* to work.  It seems as if Friedan either willfully ignored them or just blithely went about writing this book naively thinking that she was reaching everyone. I tend to think it’s the first because Friedan was a journalist – that’s right – she worked outside of the home and had a person come in to help her clean the house etc. while she wrote this book.

That being said, I’m really glad the book was written because it helped begin to spawn the changes that I take for granted today; but I think that there needs to be another book like this that is more up to par with regards to today’s “mystiques.”


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