Analysis Of The Feminine Mystique

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“Who am I?” “What is my purpose?” “Is there something more than this?” During Betty Friedan’s time, these questions were all asked by housewives to themselves who were afflicted by the “problem with no name.” There was a disease spreading from household to household, gripping the lives of suburban housewives across America, and in the Feminine Mystique, Friedan documents and explores the problem with no name, its effects on American women, and how to cure and eradicate the plague. In the Feminine Mystique, Friedan proves the existence of a feminine mystique in American society and its deleterious effects on American society. She does this by showing society’s portrayal and expectations of women, the impact on American women by the works of …show more content…

To begin, Friedan discusses how American youth have stopped growing in terms of intellectual and emotional growth. Connecting this phenomenon to the mystique, Friedan observes, “The boys and girls in whom I saw it [infantile phantasy and passivity] were children of mothers who lived within the limits of the feminine mystique.” Friedan blames this “disease” on the vicarious living of said mothers, defined as “a systematic denial and repression of one’s own personality, and an attempt to substitute some other personality…” Going along this line of thinking, Friedan presents that, “Noncommitment and vicarious living are, however, at the very heart of our conventional definition of femininity.” To summarize, Friedan is arguing that the lack of identity, the inability of women to answer the question, “Who am I?” results in dehumanized women and children with a weak core of self, and therefore a weakened society. To put this problem into perspective, Friedan states, “It is not an exaggeration to call the stagnating state of millions...a sickness, a disease in the shape of a...weaker core of human …show more content…

The most glaring fault is that Friedan only focuses on middle class, educated women who are housewives, but ignores the struggles of other women in this category. Take colored women, for example. In The Feminine Mystique, there is barely any mention of colored women. Considering this book was written during the raucous time of the civil rights movement, how could Friedan neglect to mention a whole segment of the women population who were even under more duress than the subjects of The Feminine Mystique? At a time when colored women had even marginally significantly less rights, significantly less opportunities, and significantly less chance to reach self-fulfillment, it is an injustice that Friedan does not give them a voice in The Feminine

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