Betty Friedan And The Feminine Mystique

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Betty Friedan was born in 1921. She graduated from Smith College in 1942. She wanted to study psychology graduate degree from UC Berkeley. Instead, she becomes a housewife and mother in New York, writing articles for women’s magazines. Friedan then stayed to care for her family. She was not satisfied as a housewife and wondered if other women felt the same. So, she surveyed her peers from Smith College What she concluded became the Feminine Mystique. Women’s personal identity as mothers and housewife was not fulfilling enough. Women suffered frustration because their only responsibility was the children and husband without exploring their intelligence and abilities. ( Betty Friedan launches her nonfiction account of the twentieth-century…show more content…
She notes that women have few avenues for pleasure, intellect, or self-expression and that as the women’s roles became increasingly limited outside the home their interest in sex increased. Alfred Kinsey, the famous sex therapist, emerged to show that women and men alike were having more and better sex. The underside of this, Friedan writes, is that women seek fulfillment from sex to compensate for lives that are otherwise empty; thus, sex for women becomes a symptom of psychological hunger rather than attraction and pleasure. Once women’s “problem” had been exposed in the media, women began to show relief that their tension was finally being acknowledged. However, defining the problem is difficult. Friedan realizes the reason why: the media is part of the problem, because women’s magazines claim that women are finding happiness where, in fact, they are not. Friedan admits that as a writer for these magazines she has helped perpetuate the problem. Friedan researched women’s magazines before and after World War II and notes that during the 1930s women were portrayed as pioneering career women who had their own goals apart from or in addition to marriage and family. She describes the stereotype of the “New Woman,” who frequently appears in pre-war magazine articles and fiction as struggling with and succeeding at defining her own identity. These women are rarely, if ever, housewives; if they do marry, they frequently attract men who admire their strength and independence. Friedan cites examples among published fiction from the time, such as the tale of “Sarah and the Seaplane,” in which the protagonist, who is taking flying lessons, is asked if she is in love and if that is why she seems so preoccupied. On the day Sarah solos, she learns that what she loves is the ability
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