Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

The Feminine Mystique (original 1963; edition 1971)

by Betty Friedan

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,147211,783 (3.85)75
Title:The Feminine Mystique
Authors:Betty Friedan
Info:Penguin (1971), Paperback, 367 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:feminism, women, women's rights, social conditions, sociology, psychology, sex, sexual relationships, Freud

Work details

The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan (1963)


Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 75 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
This was a really good book. The feminine mystique is still relatable to me and the lessons I learned from this book are very applicable. The second to last chapter of this book inspired me to continue educating myself. ( )
  Brinlie.Jill.Searle | Nov 22, 2016 |
Of course this is an inspiring classic of enormous consequence. I think everyone (especially women) should be aware of Friedan's influential contribution to feminism and the quality of women's lives today. This was assigned reading in a class on Revolutionary Women's Literature at UCSB. ( )
  engpunk77 | Aug 14, 2015 |
This book was first published in 1963--it was revolutionary.. It started a wave of feminism and changed the way people thought about women. Though much has changed, the issue of gender inequality is still present--and that's why I wanted to read the book. It made me realize how much the women in my life had it together, despite societal norms to the contrary and how those norms affected my (boomer) generation. Because of all the female salesmanship and perception breaking necessary to achieve it's 1963 goal, it was difficult to wade through as a listen in 2014. I wonder; however, that if as the book states, women escape the kitchen, it will be "all good?" Perhaps, there's a happy spot for each person in life? ( )
  buffalogr | Dec 23, 2014 |
When Friedman’s book was first published in 1963 it was a completely revolutionary text. It’s credited with starting the second wave of feminism and changing the way people view working women. Though much has changed in the past 50 years, the issue of gender inequality is still very much present today.

There are elements in the book that I strongly agree with. For example living through only your husband and kids’ lives will end up a frustrating mess for everyone involved. Pursuing interests outside of your spouse and kids is crucial to remind yourself that you are your own person outside of their sphere. However, I think that comparing being a stay-at-home mom to being sent to a concentration camp is a bit much. I understand what she’s saying, the similarity lies in the stripping away of outside relationships and interests, but it’s taking it too far to compare the two. I know that many “stay-at-home” moms in the 1950s were addicted to tranquiller and alcohol because of a deep-seated unhappiness, but getting married and having children is a choice. Being shipped off to a concentration camp and watching your fellow prisoners be killed is not.
In the past 50 years expectations of women have changed and there are now different factors affecting the roles women take. It's much more socially acceptable for women to work and for men help with household chores than it was in the 1950s. Regardless of whether or not the woman stays home with the kids, the roles seem to have become more equalized.

I love the role that pop culture has played in continuing to change views. TV shows like Parks and Recreation and The Good Wife continue to discuss women’s evolving roles without letting that become the central focus of the show. They are shown in positions of power in the working world but that’s never an issue on the shows. In this season of Grey’s Anatomy they’ve discussed the difficulties working moms face and the pressure put on women to have children when they don’t want to.

Women also now have the option of working from home, something that was unheard of in the 1960s. A woman can run a photography or freelance business from a home office instead of from a corporate office. Options like these have changed the playing field, but that doesn’t mean women are being paid the same salaries as men in the same positions. The line between "career woman” and “stay-at-home mom” might have become blurred as the possibilities increased, but it hasn’t been eliminated.

The feminine mystique talks in detail about how women’s sexual lives have often corresponded with their role in society. I think it's important to remember while reading those sections that when they talk about a woman enjoying sex it's not about the act of sex as much as it is about the fact that she thinks she has the right to enjoy it. Throughout history sex has often been treated as an obligation for women, something they are expected to provide for their husbands; their enjoyment was not a factor. What the feminine mystique points out is that women's enjoyment tends to correspond with how they view themselves and how they view sex. Is it an obligation they have to suffer through or is it something that they are doing with the partner out of a mutual desire.

In the book Friedman talks about some research done on how long housework takes if your stay-at-home mom versus a working mom. The conclusion was that most working mothers got it done in half the time. The author’s theory is that women stretch the work to fill their days to justify being at home. I don't know if that's true or not but it's interesting. Especially since this was written when huge advances were being made in household appliances. Dish washers, washers, dryers, kitchen mixers, these devices supposedly cut work time in half but the author and researchers found that the women just made more complicated recipes and did the laundry twice as often, washing sheets twice a week instead of once. One bachelor even made the claim that he could run most households in half the time that women did. When outraged women told him to prove it he did, taking over the four child household of one woman for a period of time. At the end of the time she even admitted he was the better cook.

BOTTOM LINE: This book gave me so much to think about and there’s a lot to be learned from the experiences of other women. I don't have kids and I've never been a stay-at-home mom so take my opinion with a huge grain of salt, but there’s a lot to be said for maintaining your own interests and friendships outside of your husband and children. I think it boils down to the pressure we put in ourselves to do the "right" thing in society’s eyes. Whether that is being staying at home or having a career, we create these standards that we have to hold our life to and then we can't help but feel overwhelmed when we fail. Finding the right balance in your own life is crucial and it’s different for every person. ( )
1 vote bookworm12 | Feb 5, 2014 |
I'd read selections from "The Feminine Mystique" over the years but never sat down to read the entire work until this 50th anniversary edition appeared. It's worthwhile, including multiple epilogues and introductory materials from earlier editions. They provide snapshots of how her book was seen at launch, ten, twenty and many more years after. This reiterates the enormous impact that her book had on readers then and later on.

However, the meat of the book remains the text itself and "The Feminine Mystique" stands up well as a readable work, even half a century on. Friedan's perceptiveness in describing 'the problem without a name' is bolstered by material from her own research, interviews and countless other contemporary sources. Where contemporary society encouraged men to pursue higher education, careers and grow in fulfilling ways, the mystique, bolstered by some cherrypicked elements from Freudian psychology and functionalist philosophies, urged women to subordinate all of those elements to fulfillment as a wife and mother. The problem was that so many women were driven to despair by the frustrations that they encountered in what was marketed to them as the ultimate in personal fulfillment and rewarding feminine duty.

The book lays out a damning case for how the mystique ran counter to the previous trends in American middle class culture where women's freedom and initiative had been celebrated. More damningly, Friedan shows how the mystique was endlessly useful to marketers in the burgeoning era of consumerism as well as their peers in the worlds of magazines, education and so on. Margaret Mead comes off rather badly for pushing the mystique's key message to urge women to embrace domestic service to husband and children early and totally while she, herself, did no such thing.

The book is flawed in my mind by an excessive reliance upon psychoanalysis. Many chapters focus in detail on this subject beginning with a long background on Freud's own problematic relationships with and understanding of women to page after page where Friedan uses psychoanalysis to diagnose problems in American housewives and their families all deriving from the toxic powers of the mystique. It is also relentlessly middle class: the world of the working class is almost non-existent except when evoked as servants!

I also couldn't accept her dismissals of homosexuality, particularly in men, and autism in children as consequences of pathological mother-love run amuck or improperly applied but, as I read those sections, I knew that she was approaching these topics using the thinking of the time. It's impossible to expect a book from 1963 to speak with the voice of 2013 all the time. The strength of "The Feminine Mystique" is that it evokes the past so vividly you'll think you're reading a modern history until you're jolted back into reality by those occasional tone-deaf moments.

If you want to understand the U.S. middle class culture of the 1950s and 1960s as how it played out in the media, medical, educational and marketing industries as well as in the personal stories of countless women, you should pick up Friedan's book and get to reading! ( )
  JaniceLiedl | Mar 31, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Betty Friedanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hardenberg, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Melior, EvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Quindlen, AnnaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wagenaar, StannekeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
For all the new women, and the new men
to Carl Friedan
and to our children--
Daniel, Jonathan, and Emily
--1970 Dell Paperback edition
First words
Preface:  Gradually, without seeing it clearly for quite a while, I came to realize that something is very wrong with the way American women are trying to live their lives today.
The problem lay buried, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American women.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393322572, Paperback)

The book that changed the consciousness of a country—and the world.

Landmark, groundbreaking, classic—these adjectives barely describe the earthshaking and long-lasting 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 over 1 million copies sold.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:45 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

The book that changed the consciousness of women everywhere, 'The Feminine Mystique' is published here so a new generation can visit its pages. It is a book that awakens women and men with its insights into social relations.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
265 wanted2 pay9 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.85)
0.5 1
1 3
1.5 2
2 20
2.5 7
3 94
3.5 26
4 157
4.5 16
5 103


4 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

W.W. Norton

An edition of this book was published by W.W. Norton.

» Publisher information page

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 111,615,965 books! | Top bar: Always visible