Feminine Mystique: A Literary Analysis

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Betty Friedan, the well-known activist, and a writer inspired women to join the 1960’s growing movement of women’s rights with one of the utmost influential books in the twentieth century, The Feminine Mystique (Parry, 2010).

The typical 1950’s woman was a housewife and mother feeling empty and discontent, and those that worked outside the home were stereotyped unsuited for professional careers and suppressed by men (Parry, 2010). The expectation of a woman was to stay home, have children, wash dishes, focus all their energy and souls on family life. A woman’s life was precariously portrayed in countless 1950 family sitcoms, for example, The Donna Reed Show, Father Knows Best, and Leave it to Beaver. I recently watched an episode of The
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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.

The Feminine Mystique was just the beginning of what was to be the second wave of the women’s movement. The book supported women’s feelings, the unspoken truths, that they were not content, but did not know why, otherwise known as “the problem with no name” (Epstein, 2006). Friedan’s days were spent leading rallies, marches, and fighting against sexual discrimination, for workplace equality, maternity leave, and women’s right to
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