Betty Friedan Women Analysis

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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. Friedan proves the existence of the feminine mystique and its deleterious effects on American society by showing society’s portrayal and expectations of women, the impact on American women by the works of social scientists such as Margaret Mead and Sigmund Freud,…show more content…
Concerning popular media, Friedan first delves into magazine stories and how magazines pandered to the image of the feminine mystique. Friedan describes the complete editorial contents of an issue of McCall’s and notes that, “The image of woman that emerges from this big, pretty magazine is young and frivolous, almost childlike; fluffy and feminine; passive; gaily content in a world of bedroom and kitchen sex, babies, and home.” This is in stark contrast to the stories from the 40’s, which portrayed women as independent, self sufficient people with lives outside the home. Similarly, manipulative advertising helped promote the image of the feminine mystique. Marketing viewed the “Balanced Homemaker” as the ideal customer because she has outside experiences before turning exclusively to homemaking, which makes her appreciate the help mechanical appliances can give but she doesn’t expect the machines to do everything since she needs to manage the house as well. As a consequence of this, companies elevated the image of the homemaker as a creative, intelligent women who need many specialized products. This image of the homemaker manipulated many women into accepting the feminine…show more content…
First, Friedan stresses the severity of Freud’s ideas by stating, “It is a Freudian idea...that has trapped so many American women today,” and “the new mystique is much more difficult...to question...because the mystique is broadcast by the very agents...that are supposed to be the chief enemies of prejudice…” Freud had many ideas and theories concerning why women were not happy in their roles as housewives and mothers. One such concept was penis envy, which was seized in this country as the literal explanation of all that was wrong with American women. When women showed their desire to grow, their ambitions were brushed off as penis envy, and this strengthened the mystique. Friedan argues that this Freudian thought was embraced by academics and intellectuals across America, and women accepted it since it would be difficult to counter such established ideas. When penis envy, basically the view that women could never really be man’s equal, was so prevalent, how could women grow and achieve self
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