Analysis Of Betty Friedan's The Feminine Sex Without Society

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At fourteen to twenty weeks after conception, a fetus is assigned a sex: they are either male or female. Sex has no strings attached initially — no defined roles or expectations outside of the rules regarding procreation, which inevitably sets men and women apart. Even after birth, it takes several months for infants to register the gender roles and still their gender identity is fluid, shifting with interests and outward appearances. It takes nearly half of their childhood for children to conform or identify as a specific gender while the remaining fluidity acts as a guiding post for what is acceptable for a specific gender and not for another. Betty Friedan confronts the age old argument of “anatomy is destiny” head-on in her text The Feminine …show more content…
Friedan asks, “What is missing from the image which shapes the American woman’s pursuit of fulfillment as a wife and mother? What is missing from the image that mirrors and creates the identity of women in America today?” (25). Reality is what has been missing from the gender roles. The answer seems plain when Friedan approaches it in the terms she does, laying out the charges that society has laid against women who are unable to fulfill the role of an ideal woman. Society made it seem that the only destiny a woman could hope for was what her anatomy could fulfill. She was intrinsically designed to bear children, so she must solely desire such a pursuit and only find fulfillment through it. If she struggles to find her purpose in this role, she can find it in being a wife because certainly, sex can fill any void created by the role of motherhood. If she still cannot find her purpose, she will find it in becoming a homemaker with all of the creativity promised within the bounds of a kitchen and tied to a credit card. However, no one ever dared ask what it meant when a woman could not find her fulfillment in any of the destined roles. After all, this was the only dream a woman could ever hope to have and seeking fulfillment outside of the home was denying that her anatomy chose her destiny, which was expressly discouraged. The feminine mystique placated the distressed women with empty promises. History could no longer determine with 100 percent certainty that there was no other possible dreams for women but society struggles with this. Even today, society cannot provide any new clarity on what womanhood actually means because the feminine mystique still whispers “the highest value and the only commitment for women is the fulfillment of their own femininity” (Friedan 33). Humanity is left to wonder what society will look like when anatomy no longer determines destiny with no promise

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