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The Feminine Mystique
Transcript of The Feminine Mystique
Born Feb 4, 1921
Died Feb 4, 2006
Psychology - Smith & Berkeley
Writer, Mother, Wife, Activist
The Feminine Mystique - 1963
Betty Friedan: Badass
by Betty Friedan
It's a trap full of lies!! Despite common belief, no woman gets an orgasm from waxing the kitchen floor
The Feminine Mystique says:
Woman's value measured by fulfillment of femininity
Femininity = sexual passivity, male domination, housewife-mother, popping out babies
True feminine women don't want careers, etc
American girl's dream: suburban housewife - the envy of the world
This is what being a woman is all about - Live it or deny your femininity!
You're lucky to be a woman!
What is The Feminine Mystique?
NOW - 1966
NARAL - 1969
Women's Political Coalition - 1971
The Second Stage & The Fountain of Age
"I married, had children, lived according to the Feminine Mystique as a suburban housewife. But still the question haunted me. I could sense no purpose in my life, I could find no peace..." -B.F.
The Feminine Mystique creates a problem....
A Cleveland doctor called it "The Housewife Syndrome"
Empty, incomplete, like I don't exist, not alive, unfulfilled...
Shame in feeling unfulfilled by housewifery
Too ashamed to talk about it
I'm the only one
All women had it: regardless of location, wealth, education level, etc
Reported but dismissed
The Problem That Has No Name
"I've tried everything women are supposed to do - hobbies, gardening, pickling, canning, being very social with my neighbors, joining committees, running PTA teas. I can do it all, and I like it, but it doesn't leave you anything to think about - any feeling of who you are. I never had any career ambitions. All I wanted was to get married and have four children. I love the kids and Bob and my home. There's no problem you can even put a name to. But I'm desperate. I begin to feel I have no personality. I'm a server of food and a putter-on of pants and a bedmaker, somebody who can be called on when you want something. But who am I?" -Mother of 4, left college at 19 to marry
How did this madness begin?
1930s & 1940s
Women fought for rights: careers, education, etc
New women creating new identity
Dreams, careers, independence
Valued by men - not unattractive
Heroine = career woman
1950s & 1960s
Post WWII - men work, women have babies
Men want perfect domestic lives
Men shaped new image
Feminine Mystique is born
Career woman - unattractive
Heroine: happy housewife
Heavily reinforced by media - Women's magazines
Writers & editors - women
Media - You are enough!
Writers & editors - men
Media - Feminine Mystique
End of 1950s: Average marriage age = 20... and dropping!
Women's magazines - marriage courses & counselors in high school
Women in college: 47% in 1920 ---> 35% in 1958
Body image: skinny & blonde = feminine
Career woman: dirty word
Women who never grow up: no vision for future
Suppression ---> didn't even think to dream of more
Identity crisis! The Feminine Mystique! Problems!
Blame it on...
Incompetent appliance repairmen (NY Times)
Distances children must be chauffeured in suburbs (Time)
Too much PTA (Redbook)
EDUCATION! (NY Times)
Have more babies
Find a man
Learn to adjust - this is the only road to fulfillment
Something is missing...
"What is missing from the image which shapes the American woman's pursuit of fulfillment as a wife and mother? What is missing from the image that mirrors and creates the identity of women in America today?"
Victorian women & modern women - didn't know they had more needs
Thought & ideas, life of the mind & spirit
Mention of a world beyond the home
Can't link outside world to woman's world
Injustice to women - relevant
Woman's place in politics: a mother
The Passionate Journey
Feminism died in 1920 - we can vote
No more rights to fight for
"Feminist" = negative, memory skewed
Women finally free - thanks to mothers & grandmothers
Choices constructed by lies of the Feminine Mystique:
Loveless, alone, man-eating feminist
Loved & protected by husband, surrounded by loving children
Women still living in the old image of glorified femininity
Same image that trapped women & sparked feminist rebellion
“...women who 'adjust' as housewives, who grow up wanting to be 'just a housewife,' are in as much danger as the millions who walked to their own death in the concentration camps...they ate suffering a slow death of mind and spirit.”
“The only way for a woman, as for a man, to find herself, to know herself as a person, is by creative work of her own.”