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The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

The Feminine Mystique (original 1963; edition 1971)

by Betty Friedan

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3,192221,745 (3.84)78
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

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The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan (1963)


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This was better than the last feminist book I read, and for a while, it was going great. I mean, I understood it and I learned a lot. I learned what it really meant to be a housewife in the '50s and why it sucked so hard. I learned sexism wasn't just a blatant hatred of women, or blatant misogyny, like "all women are good for are cooking my meals, cleaning, and sucking dick." No, sexism can be more subtle and insidious than that. You can be sexist and not even realise it, because you still totally love women.

However, I couldn't finish it because I couldn't stand the homophobia. But I understand this attitude toward homosexuals was commonplace in 1963, and though I can't overlook it so I can finish it, I realise that most everyone back then genuinely thought homosexuality was a psychological, self-destructive disease brought on by overbearing mothers. Besides, the book is kind of outdated.

I can recognise the book's significance it's made for women, and I am glad I read it. I just can't get past the homophobia and the outdatedness. ( )
  kyndyleizabella | Jan 23, 2017 |
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 |
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» 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
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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.
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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

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W.W. Norton

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

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