March 21, 2013
The Changing Face of Feminism
“Each suburban wife struggles with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night- she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question- 'Is this all?” ― Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Betty Friedan’s book, “The Feminine Mystique.” The passage of time has not diminished the significance of the book in terms of its influence on people’s concept of woman and her role in society. Through this book’s insightful views on the realities faced by American women, the author has solidified her position as a leading figure in the history of feminism. Friedan has deeply influenced many American women since the first publication of her book, especially in the 1960s and 1970s. It is thus interesting to note that the observations of the author have penetrated barriers of personal and public spaces. Friedan’s personal experience and those of other young American women she interviewed have become the basis of her inspiring views on the nature of woman. Through the lens of gender criticism, the next sections present how Friedan’s views about the feminine mystique continue to be relevant in today’s society. In the book, Friedan pierces through the feminine mystique that has clothed American women with the traditional outlook of women as passive creatures. They are relegated to the role of wife and mother. Friedan offers an interesting comparison of American women in the 1930s and in the 1960s. Through the volumes of magazines and articles she pored over, Friedan discovers a sharp contrast between the two groups of women. In the 1930s, the magazine stories feature a heroine that may be younger compared to the heroine of the 1960s stories. Yet, Friedan notes that the heroine of the 1930s is a New...