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i don't think i've ever seen the word beatnikery in print before. i think the reason to read this book is to gain an understanding of feminism in the midcentury Zietgiest It gave me some things to think about, despite being hopelessly outdated and terribly repetitive i was particularly intrigued by the idea that manufacturers would want to keep women bored and at home in order to sell themconsumer goods As a fulltime career woman (in Ms Friedan's parlance) i find i can still manage to spend obscene amounts of money on my home, clothes, shoes, car, entertainment, travel, etc If there was a marketing conspiracy to keep women in the home, it doesn't seem to have been wellfounded, but the suggestion has caused me to look around and consider some of the modern manupulations of women's roles as directed by commercial media i think the main obstacles preventing this book from passing as modern are (1) the overt disapproval of homosexuals or any kind of sexual deviance from the applepienorm; (2) the radical generalizations Ms Friedan makes about entire populations; and (3) the focus on white, middle and upper class women as though they were the only women around, or at least worth talking about I got Friedan's message early on, and seriously considered not reading to the end, but i'm glad i did; kind of like climbing the mountain because it's there gotta plant my flag at the top of Mount Mystique It was interesting to me partially because i was reading my mother's dogeared copy from her college years (95 cents!) and i can imagine what the feminist movement meant to her, and what she was thinking about, even though i'm sure it differs radically from my view Kind of a surreal bonding experience. I was born in 1959 and when this came out originally in 1963, I was 4 years old I went to school in Atlanta in the 1960's and 1970's When I was in elementary school grades 17 from fall of 1965 to June of 1972, I was struck by the differences between other women and my mother For example, every single one of the other moms of the kids in my classes from 1st to 7th grade were housewives While those moms cooked, cleaned, raised kids, gossiped with each other, and volunteered to give class parties, my own mother worked She and my father owned a bookstore and my mother worked full time My dad was the only dad picking up his kid at my elementary school which fascinated the other mothers who came to pick up theirs I had a nanny, a lovely black woman named Ruth who was a second mom to me and was herself a working mom My mother had a copy of this book and I remember talking to her about it when I was around 13 She had me read it and we discussed it, a practice we had enjoyed my whole life Suddenly I understood why my mother made her career a priority and why she had so much selfrespect and always seemed to me to be so muchsmarter and sophisticated than the other moms Betty Friedan had nailed it The other kids had mothers who were dead inside Dead They had no vitality for life, no I can't wait to get up for the new day going on All they could talk about was gossip, kids, cleaning, cooking, and the like Such boring women had to be bored How different they were from my mom and I knew that when I grew up, I would be just like my own mom I had no desire to be one of the Stepford Wives I got to spend time with both parents and by the time I was 10, I was working with them in the bookstore I learned to shelve books, run the cash register and wait on customers I learned to do the business checking, inventory and accounting Both of my parents wanted me to be prepared for a real life and encouraged me to earn the best grades This book goes a long way in explaining why My mother was born in the 1920's There was little opportunity for a small town girl to get a good education or start a career so once they were married, my parents moved to the city leaving behind mothers and sisters and sisters in law who were intellectual zombies Here's the most important thing for every female to understand your hopes, dreams, goals, talents, education, and abilities are every bit as important as any man's including your husband's You do not exist to sell your body to a man in marriage in exchange for room and board You arethan a legalized hooker, cook, maid, babysitter, and errand girl You are no one's doormat You get one chance at life (there is NO life after death which is an absurd notion) and you have limited time to live it to its fullest Your kids will not rot or die if you work, get a degree, own a business, and live your own life and not just reflect your dreams through them Betty Friedan opens the door to the near past, a past a lot of women are trying to relive today Don't you be one of them! This world needs your dreams, talents, skills, and creativity. What struck me the most when I read this as a teenager (and this was the first of its genre I read) was how, in excruciatingly familiar detail, it described my mother God rest her soul, I didn't appreciate it at the time and it didn't make me any less of a brat Her life had been a life typical of many women that entered the workforce during WWII Instead of marrying when the war ended, she stayed on and attained a position of prominence for a woman at that time She married very late, at age 29, and overnight went from the life of an independent woman with a busy career in a big city, to a fulltime smallcity housewife I believed then and I believe now that to succumb willingly to a life of, let's face it, servitude and domesticity, with a sudden, total loss of status can kill you But now society throws many little bones to housewives, and actually makes them even think they can dictate public policy from the front seat of their minivans It's a lie, now as then Just spend a few days home sick on the couch Watch the View, Dr Phil, and Oprah And that's not even the dumb stuff. Reading this book is bittersweet for me Every sentence, every paragraph, every chapter, I'm cheering Friedan on At first, I kept thinking, If only I'd read this when I was a teenager in the early 1970s, it would have saved me a lot of griefthe years I spent looking for men to save me, to give me an identity If I'd read it back then, maybe I would have recognized the wretched inequalities in my world The book so clearly depicts the ideals of my mother and of many women of her generation (born in the 1920s) And because of my mother's firm belief in the feminine mystique (woman born for man's purposes), I was trained by her to believe that this was the only way to be a women in the world Realistically, if I'd read TFM in my Southern Baptist youth, I'm sure I would have rebelled against it, finding those scriptures that remind women to keep silent.This should be a must read for everyone, especially those who aren't clear on the history of equality for women, especially those who think the fight is over for equality. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan is an iconic book that relentlessly changed the way the American woman saw herself, until its first publication in 1963 Feministic in a good way, without the morbid extravaganza other reads of that type hold, it's relevant even now and if you don't choose to believe so, at least you can appreciate it as a historical document In my opinion the above statement holdstruth than any other quote about gender equality every did Of course not all of her suggestions are correct, or well examined Many of her points are dislodged to the extremity of becoming eerie representations of what it might have been at first as an idea But no one can be so foolish as to ignore the masterful and underrated until then meaning behind every single testament, the choice.The free choise In few words the significance and value of the book lays completely in this little concept This commanding, severe notion For centuries in different stages every era the woman as an archetype had very particular jobs to do Marrying, taking care of the house, raising as many children as the fate would give her with no use for any contraceptive method having the men in her life dictating every aspect and every decision and of course the stay there and look pretty utility But only that For the mainstream, everyday woman there was no freedom, no individuality, no aspiration If you wanted to be something else, something notbut just different you didn't had the choice.Friedan's whole point is this, it doesn't diminish the want of a woman to be a housewife and a mother, it just states the actual fact, that you can be all that and a thousandthings, or not You can be a mother and a working woman, or you can be a mother, or you can be a working woman, period You can be anything you want, so long it is your choice, not just an outdated inclination Don't barricade yourself behind meaningless gender roles, labels or privileges, make choices.Bottom line, the book is not perfect It's repetitive, drawn out and maybe a little arid at points BUT it was a fundamental lever of motion back in the sixties that ultimately led to the Secondwave Feminism movement and created the coalition with other movements such as the civil rights and the student's rights, that eventually changed the world, in so many aspects, with an amazing force.It must be appreciated and cherished for helping to make the world a little better, a little brighter, a little less menial and tedious.THOUGHTS EVOKED BY THE BOOK I don't agree with her about homosexuality I'm sure it was just a way of approaching the middle class, narrow minded women of the time and not entirely her beliefs I believe that if you are a mother, you give to your child a piece of you, you will never get back and that is great if you make the choice to become a parent consciously But if you only doing it in order to fulfil a stereotype you harm both your child and yourself Equality will never be attained, not really in all forms The media still play a devious part in society discrimination. I am very grateful for all the things Betty Friedan did so that I was raised in a less sexist world That being said, this book was pretty bad for two main reasons First, Friedan writes emotionally rather than rationally She does not appeal to my rational brain but rather attempts to manipulate me emotionally by painting a very dramatic portrait that pins Every Problem Ever on women staying home with the kids Friedan has to resort to this style of emotional fluff (that I find very boring) because of her failure to researchthoroughly her subject which led to her failure to grasp the bigger picture She needed to study the history of women's rights for two thousand years, not one hundred She needed to study the history of family life for at least a thousand years to understand why women are home with the kids Then she would have written a muchinteresting book.Social roles are fascinating Playing the part of woman or man rather than being yourself, the human propensity for living an inauthentic life based around trying to be someone else's idea of good, is a common human problem, not a female one But Friedan doesn't address the human problem of role playing, she just attacks one role played by one group of people in one short time period And even in her time period men suffered from the exact same inauthentic, selfless existence that comes from playing a roletheir role was breadwinner Their role demanded that they be strong and never cry They couldn't like pink or cuddling A role is a role It's damaging to the human psyche because it is a rolewhat the role dictates doesn't matter that much Friedan's failure to examine the big picture is perhaps why she ends up arguing (rather stupidly) that all satisfaction in life comes from working outside the home For sure one's productive work is a huge part of one's life satisfaction, but there is a big difference between the work people do that they are intrinsically motivated to do and find deeply satisfying and the work they do for their survival Most people will never find a way to combine the two Moreover, most people in most places in most of human history had to spend the majority of their time focused on their survival, and not soulsatisfying passionwork That is life To have milk (up until 100 years ago) you had to milk a cow every day twice a day 365 days a year You think that isn't drudgery?! Until very recently there weren't a million jobs from which to chose, most people were going to farm or hunt or gather Learning how to deal with the basic drudgery of survival was a major lifeskill that everyone learned in childhood And even in Friedan's time period, I can't imagine that most men's work was super intellectually stimulating, that all men just hopped out of bed in the morning excited to go do their jobs.But moving on to what I think is actuallyinteresting.If Friedan had doneresearch she may have also realized that even if all women worked outside the home SOMEONE has to take care of the kids Friedan thinks it should be the government She advocates state sponsored daycare On moral grounds I cannot agree with that as that means I have a right to have as many babies as I want, and you are forced to pay for their babysitting whether you want to or not Moreover, statesponsored daycare means the government is raising all the kidsno thank you!There is also the problem of health To maximize the health of our children, they should be spaced 45 years apart and breastfed for 35 years each Pumping milk is largely a lie as it will cause decreased milk supply and lead to a failure to produce enough milk What this means is that daycare women in the workforce = unhealthy kids And unhealthy women as women are also less likely to get cancer if they breastfeed for longer Only for a tiny amount of time in the history of the human race have babies been breast fed for only a few months (In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Juliet nursed until 3!) Which is to say: It is not the feminine mystique that convinced me I should stay home with my children, it is reality Because health is my highest value, I cannot choose otherwise but to stay home because that is the only option our society gives me.And THAT is the problem.Someone has to raise the kids kids should be spaced 45 years apart kids should be breastfed for 35 years DOES NOT HAVE TO MEAN women need to stay home with the kids for 5 to 20 years depending on how many kids they have.If Friedan had looked back far enough, she would have noticed that in many places and times women did not have to stay home with the kids because the kids did not have to stay home It wasn't until the Victorians decided that children needed to be removed from the world (so that they would never learn about sex, drinking, and gambling) that women got stuck in the house (because someone had to stay home to police the kids who had to stay home) Being stuck in the house SUCKS For women AND FOR CHILDREN The woman's role that Friedan has such a big problem with was a poor solution to the real problemthe removal of children from the world.I have a great lecture about this on YouTube: solution isn't daycare and school and women in the workforce The solution is a change in the way we live and especially in the way we think about childrena society and workforce designed for people of all ages Fascinating to me that we make so many laws to make buildings accommodating for the handicapped but never children In many Latin American malls it is simply assumed children will be therebreakables are kept on high shelves and every store has a box of toys How strange to think of a world in which children are actually considered! And welcomed!The next step in women's liberation is actually children's liberation Because until children are liberated from their roles as pets and slaves who need to spend all day being policed in schools, someone will have to do that policing And that someone will have to be women if the woman values health.Other notes:Her research led her to conclude that in the postwar period women got stupider My research has shown me that ALL Americans got stupider, men too Nutrition and physical degeneration could be to blame But also our methods of schooling and parenting and also the mass media The point is: I don't think it was just women that got stupider.Parenting is exhausting when done alone with no time off, not just when sexism is presentIt's crazy to me that Friedan thinks all the bored housewives *must* go back to school for intellectual stimulation I find school programs so restrictive compared to the freedom of being able to study whatever grabs me! I get to chose my own reading list! And read for as long as I want on no one's schedule but mine! I have read a book a week since my son was born I puzzle over huge philosophical issues all day while I am home My husband was cracking up the other day because I gave him a lecture on how the current science of consciousness applies to epistemology while I was cleaning the fridge He is jealous of all the reading I have time for that he does not have time for.Update: Currently reading The Myth of Male Power highly recommends! Skip Feminine Mystique and read it instead! |READ BOOK ⚖ The Feminine Mystique ☪ The book that changed the consciousness of a country―and the worldLandmark, groundbreaking, classic―these adjectives barely describe the earthshaking and longlasting effects of Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique This is the book that defined the problem that has no name, that launched the Second Wave of the feminist movement, and has been awakening women and men with its insights into social relations, which still remain fresh, ever since A national bestseller, with overmillion copies sold Have you ever read one of Richard Yates's novels such as Revolutionary Road and said Gaaaawwwwwd, he's a great writer, but why'd he have to make it so depressing?? The Feminine Mystique will show you that he was accurately portraying the despair and feeling of entrapment many married women were experiencing in postWWII America 4.5 stars Hard to rate because it's often needlessly wordy and overlong in general, but her extensive research and groundbreaking (at the time) information warrant a high rating A fascinating overview of American women throughout various periods of history. I read excerpts from The Feminine Mystique at university, and have wanted to read entire book for a few years now While this book is still important and highlights the ways in which sociology, higher ed, economy hell, even architecture betrayed women, for every positive postit note I found something problematic I would love to see addressed in a footnote or the foreword, which will probably never happen in my lifetime Sorry for focusing on the bad and the ugly, but this book already has many good reviews and my qualms go beyond “I am a happy SAHM and strongly disagree” tone of many negative ones.1) I love my job and returned to it with tires (metaphorically) screeching at the end of my maternity leave But even I don’t believe women who can find satisfaction solely as housewives/ mothers don’t exist Ms Friedan did not manage to find a single one.What is , she keeps hearing about someone who reportedly is a fulfilled mother and housewife, and – time and time again –after an honest conversation, these mythical beings are reduced to tears, sobbing how much they envy working women More importantly, I could not resist the impression that the author can interprets the same pursuit (say, community work) as either pathetic timefiller (if a woman is unsatisfied with her life) or a fantastic way of selfactualization (if a woman happens to be happy).2) While I understand “the housewife syndrome” was a serious problem, the parallel Friedan chooses to illustrate the importance of selfactualization shows an utter lack of sense of proportions Less than 20 years after the war, she uses death camps as a metaphor for American housewives' entrapment To use an example of a female prisoner, formerly a dancer, about to be gassed, who is ordered to dance and kills the officer, because she finally remembers what it is to be a human being, as a reminder that dabbling in painting or writing can ward off depression? To essentially blame the inmates of death camps for having allowed the Nazis to suppress their personalities instead of turning against them? To smoothly move on to discuss female ability to orgasm? Tellingly, Friedan's bio on Jewish Women's Archive webpage (jwa.org) contains the following excerpt: Despite its popularity, [Feminine Mystique] caused her personal troubles Her children were ostracized from car pools, and she and her husband were no longer invited to their friends’ dinner party circle.(And this, I swear, are all the personal troubles listed) In other words step aside, prisoners of Auschwitz, Dachau, Stutthof and Treblinka; this woman has a thing or two to teach us all about resilience in face of suffering.3) This is not the only moment when the author fails to do her homework She repeatedly (for nothing in the book is said only once) gives examples of Russia and Israel – highly centralized, highly politicized states – as countries where women, particularly working women, report much higher levels of happiness than in the U.S The joys of working motherhood in Russia, where your kid would spend as long as entire work week in daycare, depending on your job? Where institutionalized brainwashing started at the prekindergarten level? Start by reading The Time of Women.4) While I understand that this book, due to its subject matter, is extremely heteronormative, it must be said that Ms Friedan has surprisingly macho views on homosexuality She seems to associate male homosexuality – a result, for her, of pathological upbringing – with weakness and passivity, and compares it to smog spreading over America In a nutshell: male homosexuality is yucky; female homosexuality doesn’t exist (Also, is the narrator of Breakfast in Tiffany’s really gay? I don’t remember anything to this effect, and yet Friedan chooses to share this piece of trivia with us – unsurprisingly twice.)5) The core message of this book: immaturity leads to depression; depression leads to weakness; and weakness is, again, yucky One lost trait of American women Ms Friedan repeatedly mourns is the frontier/ pioneer spirit I have a crawling suspicion the picture this book paints of American suburban housewives might be a reverse of the author’s vision of herself Such unsympathetic representation of weakness, immaturity, social irresponsibility of young Americans may only come from a woman who sees herself as mature, responsible, and productive. I had a demeaning encounter with Ms Friedan on the topic of celebrating 30 years of the Feminist Movement As a HomemakerMom, she chastised me for aiming to put the women's movement back 30 years Wasting my education, becoming overly invested in my children, she tried her best to shame me into compliance Never one to comply I left her royal presence shaking my head What an angry woman!Every woman in my generation heard the battle cry read her book! I'm glad I didn't actually purchase my copy, I borrowed it from my library Money was tight back then We had a single income family.Years later, working with some new moms of a younger generation I mentioned the criticisms dished out to those of us my age, who were justamoms at home I'd been told in no uncertain terms it was foolish of me to raise my own children when today's economy needed both parents working One of the young moms gasped and said firmly WHO told you you couldn't stay home and raise your own children! I replied Betty Friedan She looked puzzled and asked who's Betty Friedan.