Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

I wanted to love The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. I picked it up with expectations of being inspired, of being enraged, of being enlightened... I was convinced this book would turn me into a militant feminist; okay not really, but I thought it would somehow change my relationship with feminism, answer questions I'd never thought to ask, radically change my life... In that, I think perhaps my expectations were too high. It is an important book. It is well written, and Friedan makes her points quite convincingly. As a way to understand the foundation of modern feminism, I highly recommend it. That said, I found myself reminding myself that some of the research she cites is outdated, has been proven incomplete and, at times, inaccurate while grimacing that we are facing some of the same battles yet again - or perhaps still. As I read The Feminine Mystique it became very clear to me that equality, at least for women, seems to wax and wane. Progress is made, then fear, misconceptions, deception, and even greed drive back the progress. Friedan delves into industry, marketing, psychology, family values, education, and expectations to explore the role of women in society and what fosters inequality. I, at times, felt The Feminine Mystique was incomplete because of its focus on the experiences of white middle class, perhaps even upper middle class, women. Reading The Feminine Mystique often felt like reading about people whose lives were so far removed from my upbringing in a small farming community as to be glimpsing into another world and yet much of it makes sense to my current life. Seeing my own life through both sets of eyes made the dichotomy in the fight for equality for all women that much more visible. There's much to learn from The Feminine Mystique as we study the history of feminism and the current fight for equality, but it is not the complete story of women, feminism, or the need for equality.

2 comments:

  1. T.L., I'm reading A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s by Stephanie Coontz. It helps put Friedan's work in the context of its time. It's helping me better understand FM.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Susan, Thank you so much for the recommendation. I will add A Strange Stirring to my reading list.
      And thank you for stopping by reviews blog!

      Delete