Feminism involves political and sociological theories and philosophies concerned with issues of gender difference, as well as a movement that advocates gender equality for women and campaigns for women's rights and interests. Although the terms "feminism" and "feminist" did not gain widespread use until the s, they were already being used in the public parlance much earlier; for instance, Katherine Hepburn speaks of the "feminist movement" in the film Woman of the Year.
In order to better comprehend how The Feminine Mystique had such a profound impact on women of that era, it is important to understand who the mid-twentieth-century American woman was.
Although it is impossible to gather information on every female and ask each of them to recall what it was like to be a woman in that turbulent era, it is feasible to look to one of the leading literary voices of that time to discern what her female characters were doing and thinking about.
She was one of the first American women writers to do so. She wrote during at time when female issues were considered worthy only of a kitchen-table discussion over coffee.
She lived in a world that was completely dominated by men, in the home, in the workplace, and in the field of publishing.
Friedan interviewed many women in the course of her research for The Feminine Mystique, why add yet another voice to the mix? The answer is simple. They consist of both formally educated women and those who are not formally educated.
They are housewives and mothers who, at most, struggle with part-time jobs. There is little mention of professional businesswomen. To listen to them is to hear the voices of the women who most often found themselves concealed under the veil of what Friedan refers to as the feminine mystique.
To begin with, readers should first understand what Friedan means when she writes about feminine mystique. These traits, according to social propaganda at that time, were best developed in the role of wife and mother.
Women should not worry about obtaining a college degree nor about the subsequent challenge of finding and advancing a professional career. For women to want to be involved outside of the home was testimony to their jealousy of men. We had once been married for twenty-seven years, so I felt justified.
They became so consumed with playing out their roles as wives that they were left with no concept of themselves.
By turning their backs on their education and further exploration of self, their husband became their lives. In the same short story, the woman continues her brief dialogue with her ex-husband, who tells her that he is finally going to buy that sailboat he has always wanted. He still has dreams, he tells her.
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Betty Friedan is my favorite feminist. When I read Friedan's seminal work The Feminine Mystique at age 16, it changed my life—for the first time, I understood that feminism could be.
― Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Betty Friedan’s book, “The Feminine Mystique.” The passage of time has not diminished the significance of the book in terms of its influence on people’s concept of woman and her role in society.
More women are opting against saying “I do” to changing their last names. According to a new analysis by New York Times’ The Upshot blog, about 30% of women in recent years have decided to. In , Betty Friedan wrote the book The Feminine Mystique which was about the revival of women’s movement and in the transformation of the nation’s awareness of the challenges middle-class suburban women faced (Horowitz ).
In the first major rallying cry for feminism, The Suffragettes fought vehemently for women's rights, most specifically, the right to vote. Their movements and protests, both peaceful and radical.