The Feminine Mystique
The Feminine Mystique is the title of a book written by Betty Friedan who also founded The National Organization for Women (NOW) to help US women gain equal rights. She describes the "feminine mystique" as the heightened awareness of the expectations of women and how each woman has to fit a certain role as a little girl, an uneducated and unemployed teenager, and finally as a wife and mother who is to happily clean the kitchen and cook things all day. After World War II, a lot of women's organizations began to appear with the goal of bringing the issues of equal rights into the limelight.
The stereotype even came down to the color of a woman's hair. Many women wished that they could be blonde because that was the ideal hair color. In The Feminine Mystique, Friedan writes that "across America, three out of every ten women dyed their hair blonde " (Kerber/DeHart 514). This serves as an example of how there was such a push for women to fit a certain mold which was portrayed as the role of women. Blacks were naturally excluded from the notion of ideal women and they suffered additional discrimination which was even greater than that which the white women suffered from.
In addition to hair color, women often went to great lengths to achieve a thin figure. The look that women were striving for was the look of the thin model. Many women wore tight, uncomfortable clothing in order to create the illusion of being thinner and some even took pills that were supposed to make them lose weight.
The role of women was to find a husband to support the family that they would raise. Many women dropped out of college or never went in the first place because they were lead to believe that working outside of the home was for men and that it would not be feminine for them to get jobs and be single without a husband or children to take care of.
An enormous problem for women was the psychological stress of dealing with this role that was...
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