The Problem That Has No Name

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Friedan points out that the average age of marriage was dropping and the birthrate was increasing for women throughout the 1950s, yet the widespread unhappiness of women persisted, although American culture insisted that fulfillment for women could be found in marriage and housewifery; this chapter concludes by declaring "We can no longer ignore that voice within women that says: 'I want something more than my husband and my children and my home.'

"All [women] had to do was devote their lives from earliest girlhood to finding a husband and bearing children," (Friedan 16). This philosophy may seem out dated today. With the great feminist movements from the women of the Victorian Era and the 1970's the idea that women can only be housewives is a thing of the past, but not of the distant past. In "Lamb to the Slaughter" the main character is the perfect housewife who faces the problem of losing her husband; a real tragedy for any woman at anytime, but even more so for the totally dependent, pregnant housewife. “Lamb to the Slaughter,” by Roald Dahl, is one of those stories that forces readers to question what is good and what is evil, what is just and what is unfair.

The Feminine Mystique implicated women's magazines, other media, corporations, schools and various institutions in U.S. society that were all guilty of relentlessly pressuring girls to marry young and fit into the fabricated feminine image. Unfortunately, in real life it was common to find that women were unhappy because their choices were limited and they were expected to make a "career" out of being housewives and mothers, excluding all other pursuits. Betty Friedan noted the unhappiness of many housewives who were trying to fit this feminine mystique image, and she called the widespread unhappiness “the problem that has no name.”

According to Betty Friedan, the so-called feminine image benefited advertisers and big corporations far more than it helped families and children, let alone the women playing the "role." Women, just like any other humans, naturally wanted to make the most of their potential.

How Do You Solve a Problem That Has No Name? 

In The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan analyzed the problem that has no name and offered some solutions. She emphasized throughout the book that the creation of a mythical “happy housewife” image had brought major dollars to advertisers and corporations that sold magazines and household products, at a great cost to women. She called for society to revive the 1920s and 1930s independent career woman image, an image that had been destroyed by post-World War II behavior, women’s magazines and universities that encouraged girls to find a husband above all other goals. Betty Friedan's vision of a truly happy, productive society would allow men and women to become educated, work and use their talents. When women ignored their potential, the result was not just an inefficient society but also widespread unhappiness, including depression andsuicide. These, among other symptoms, were serious effects caused by the problem that had no name. 

In an excerpt from her book, "The Feminine Mystique", Betty Friedan defines women's unhappiness during the Fifties as ''the problem that has no name.'' She identifies "the problem that has no name" as upper-middle classed suburban women experiencing dissatisfaction with their lives and an inarticulated longing for something else beside their housewifely duties. She pins the blame on a media perpetuated idealized image of femininity, a social construction that tells women that their role in life is catch a man, keep a man, have children and put the needs of one's husband and children first.

According to Friedan, women have been encouraged to confine themselves to a very narrow definition of "true" womanhood, forsaking education and career aspirations in the process by experts who wrote books, columns and books that told women during that era that their greatest...
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