In addition, they formed the majority of the suburban housewives who were doing far much better compared to the working-class women of color. In her work, Friedan discriminates African-American women to a large extent even in the light that many of them formed the category of working-class women. She actually, entirely underscores their contributions to the economy at the time. The reason why she left them out of the book could be because they never participated in the roles that she deemed “fulfilling” or those that she advocated. While Friedan generalizes the idea that all women were struggling to achieve equality with men at the time, she fails to understand that there were others who were not under the broad “category of Feminine Mystique.” In fact, many African-American women and working class women did not share the perception that Friedan had.
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.
With her Smith College education, graduating summa cum laude (Parry, 2010), and her passion for journalism, Friedan began to feel something was missing in a life of marriage and motherhood. Moreover, it was the questionnaire from her 1957 Smith College reunion, that revealed some unsettling results; that women were dissatisfied with giving up work, and education for motherhood (Parry, 2010) that set her determination to set a new standard for women, hence, The Feminine Mystique. With her book, she inspired thousands of women to assess themselves in a different light. Thanks to Friedan, women now believed they had a choice and the power to make choices, to be their own person, to be joyful, to learn, to work, be taken seriously, and no longer wear a false mask. And they could still be a wife, friend, lover, and mother.
Similarly to the likes of Margaret Sanger, Friedan fails to mention any reference to black women and those of different ethnicities, consequently raising concerns over the solutions that Friedan is suggesting; if these middle class women go back out and work on their careers then who will come in to their homes and look after their children and clean their house? Aren’t these women who have already been combining the reality of working and domestic duties? After all, when Friedan wrote ‘The Feminine Mystique’ more than one-third of women were already in the workforce. A notable comparison between the works of Sanger and Friedan is that the liberation of women is not only dependent on their gender but also on their social class, introducing an alternative that bodily autonomy is not forefront in the overlap of first and second wave feminism. The women of the feminine mystique had the choice to become a housewife or obtain a career, although they were pressured by society to adopt the latter, the element of choice was still there for them.
Friedan shocked the world by contradicting the role of what a housewife is supposed to do. She also called females to seek fulfillment of taking a job outside of the house. Friedan’s had such an impact on women that its credited for being the start of the “second wave” of the American feminist movement. Now women would take a stand for their equality right in America. The movement in the 1960s and 1970s was mainly focused on diminishing workplace inequality, such as wages and better jobs.
“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,
This has been an issue since feminist thinking first started to take root in American society. Which is also why African American feminism is important for many women. American society views race and gender through the eyes of the white male, and seeing as the dominating discourse in society, usually remains invisible until it is challenged, white and male becomes the perceived norm. The power vested within the white male gaze, then allows the white patriarchy to define the meaning of womanhood. When someone else gets to define a certain group of people, which they do not belong to, the people often become wrongly presented, by inaccurate stereotypes.
The objective for the feminist movement is to find equality between the sexes. Since the start of this movement, women have acquired the right to vote and have become big competition for males throughout the workplaces. Even though the feminist movement has been big throughout the past 200 years, there are lots of examples in history that show characteristics of feminism. One of those examples is that show characteristics of feminism. One of those examples is the book Antigone by Sophocles.
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
As, being a woman I have the privilege to take part in political and social affairs such as voting and being able to obtain an education. Due to all the influential women such as Susan B Anthony, Lucretia Mott etc. having fought for women’s rights have given women a chance to voice their opinion on political matters and represent their individuality in today’s society. The feminist movement led to significant changes within education for women as educational institutions welcomed women. Due to these changes women were able to obtain education, which still continues today, as I am personally able to attend a university in order to obtain a degree allowing me to enter different fields at the same level as men within the society.