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The Second Stage

by Betty Friedan

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294170,672 (3.21)2
First published in 1981, The Second Stage is eerily prescient and timely, a reminder that much of what is called new thinking in feminism has been eloquently observed and argued before. Warning the women's movement against dissolving into factionalism, male-bashing, and preoccupation with sexual and identity politics rather than bottom-line political and economic inequalities, Friedan argues that once past the initial phases of describing and working against political and economic injustices, the women's movement should focus on working with men to remake private and public arrangements that work against full lives with children for women and men both. Friedan's agenda to preserve families is far more radical than it appears, for she argues that a truly equitable preservation of marriage and family may require a reorganization of many aspects of conventional middle-class life, from the greater use of flex time and job-sharing, to company-sponsored daycare, to new home designs to permit communal housekeeping and cooking arrangements. Called "utopian" fifteen years ago, when it seemed unbelievable that women had enough power in the workplace to make effective demands, or that men would join them, some of these visions are slowly but steadily coming to pass even now. The problem Friedan identifies is as real now as it was years ago: "how to live the equality we fought for," and continue to fight for, with "the family as new feminist frontier." She writes not only for women's liberation but for human liberation.… (more)
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This book got a lot of flak when it was published for being a retreat from The Feminine Mystique. In fact, I found it remarkably consistent for something written 15 years later (I read them close together), but it looked at the same issues from another point of view.

Anyone who read the first book should have recognized that Betty Friedan did not think that most women would want to give up being wives and mothers. In fact, she felt that the desire for a family was what kept women from seeking a career. The Feminine Mystique was largely the argument that no such wrenching choice was necessary. This book is an attempt to balance the more extreme interpretations of its predecessor. ( )
  PuddinTame | Jul 14, 2007 |
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First published in 1981, The Second Stage is eerily prescient and timely, a reminder that much of what is called new thinking in feminism has been eloquently observed and argued before. Warning the women's movement against dissolving into factionalism, male-bashing, and preoccupation with sexual and identity politics rather than bottom-line political and economic inequalities, Friedan argues that once past the initial phases of describing and working against political and economic injustices, the women's movement should focus on working with men to remake private and public arrangements that work against full lives with children for women and men both. Friedan's agenda to preserve families is far more radical than it appears, for she argues that a truly equitable preservation of marriage and family may require a reorganization of many aspects of conventional middle-class life, from the greater use of flex time and job-sharing, to company-sponsored daycare, to new home designs to permit communal housekeeping and cooking arrangements. Called "utopian" fifteen years ago, when it seemed unbelievable that women had enough power in the workplace to make effective demands, or that men would join them, some of these visions are slowly but steadily coming to pass even now. The problem Friedan identifies is as real now as it was years ago: "how to live the equality we fought for," and continue to fight for, with "the family as new feminist frontier." She writes not only for women's liberation but for human liberation.

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