Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique

While Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique captured the all-so-common “housewife syndrome” that plagued women like Friedan all across America, it failed to address the full range of problems that every other woman faced, not only in America but worldwide. And while expecting Friedan to address all groups of women and their individual struggles is impractical, she makes the assumption that the problems detailed in her book apply to all women. In reality, the “problem that has no name” is a problem to only women like Friedan herself: white, middle-class mothers and wives. Although the use of the word “feminine” in her title suggests that Friedan may be speaking about women as a whole, the way she presents her thesis is makes it very clear that …show more content…
And although the pronoun itself is normally all-inclusive, Friedan’s idea of a woman is one that needed to “breastfeed children…bake bread… cook gourmet snails…pity the neurotic, unfeminine, unhappy women” (270). Therefore, the pronoun itself and the actual women who are being described are at odds because Friedan is discussing a specific type of woman under the guise that her woman is every woman. Unfortunately, not all women are able to have children, bake bread, purchase snails, and have enough time to pity other women who were unhappy. Some women have difficulty conceiving or are not of enough means to raise a child. Others lack the skills and equipment needed to bake bread and the free time to pity other women. While the challenges that Friedan’s “woman” faces are legitimate in the sense that some of the tasks are difficult in nature and very stressful, ultimately it is an oversight to paint women with a sweeping brush by using the pronoun “they” because all women struggle, not just the women within Friedan’s social circle. By failing to address the housemaid who works all day for a wealthy family in Atlanta or the single, middle-aged professional woman working for a Fortune 500 company, Friedan marginalizes many …show more content…
Some women may try to cure their problems by seeing a psychoanalyst, again, a luxury that only comes with the privilege of both time and money. By breaking free from the “conventional picture of femininity” some women began to enjoy their womanhood (279). Breaking free from the conventional picture of femininity would enable the woman to go out and utilize her college degree or pursue a hobby and eschew her domestic duties for her heart’s desires. Although Friedan herself is a white woman of means and comes from a place of privilege, she really displays her inability to see past her own problems when she offers a solution to housewives nationwide. The allegiance towards women like her is blatant, as is the failure to mention any other type of woman. And because the white middle and upper class woman is at the top of the food chain in the hierarchy of women, it is as if Friedan feels that these problems are the only ones worth mentioning. And while not directly saying it, Friedan is suggesting that a way for women to liberate themselves from the chains of domesticity is to leave the house and wander free. Poor women struggle with the duties of housework as much as middle-class women do, if not more because poor women cannot afford the household appliances that middle-class women can use and save time with. Poor women are inherently unable to leave their duties

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