Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Feminine Mystique

When I was a junior in high school I bought this book at a garage sale. The premise of the book is some women would find jobs outside the home fulfilling and even be good at them, an idea that was revolutionary at that particular moment in American history. Reading this book in the 1990s showed me how far we had come and how much stereotyped gender roles are still everywhere. The book talks about how women were being programed through their education, through society and so on, to get married, have children and devote every cell of their being to cleaning, cooking and child care for the rest of their lives. Betty Friedan discusses how household cleaners and other products are marketed to women as being items that give women a sense of accomplishment and how women's magazines trended away from stories about women having any adventures but romance (no more learning to fly a plane for example). Bright high school girls were discouraged from going to college or sent there solely to find a husband asthe average age at marrriage for women was dropping. This book has been accused of focusing solely on the plight of white privileged women, which is true, but this is still an important book. Friedan never belittles being a mother or a homemaker, but merely points out women are capable of other accomplishments, in addition to or instead of a "traditional" woman's role, and shouldn't be barred because of their gender. Thanks Betty.

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