Criticism In The Feminine Mystique, By Betty Friedan

2129 Words 9 Pages
In the post-war age, the imagery of the American Dream started to shift into the cliché of the suburban family with the white picket fence. While many people belonging to marginalized groups found themselves feeling jaded towards the idea of American Dream and its level of attainability, white women of the middle and upper class were not among the skeptics. Rather, they felt a discontent with their lives that they found hard to articulate. Betty Friedan, the author of the book that sparked the second-wave feminist movement, The Feminine Mystique referred to this as “the problem with no name” (Friedan 57). The women affected by this “problem with no name” had the class status analogous to success in America but they lacked agency in it - they …show more content…
Hugh Hefner once said of second-wave feminism:
The women’s movement is rejecting the overall roles that men and women play in our society—the notion that there should be any differences between the sexes whatever other than the physiological ones. It is an extremely anti-sexual unnatural thing they are reaching for…Clearly if you analyze all of the most basic premises of the extreme new form of feminism, you will find them unalterably opposed to the romantic boy-girl society that PLAYBOY promotes…These chicks are our natural enemy. (qtd. in Fraterrigo 103)
Hefner’s quote provides a succinct way of looking at how anti-feminist men justified their anti-feminism. Hefner speaks to conservatism, positioning feminists as unnatural and fear-mongering about the possible feminist-wrought breakdown of society. He then shifts from talking about feminism from a societal point of view to talking about it from a personal point of view – “these chicks are our enemy.” The fear for society is only window-dressing for the real fear: fear of loss of power. It is also worth mentioning that second-wave feminism was by no means anti-sex and advocated for more sexual options for women. So truly, the “romantic boy-girl society {promoted by Playboy}” was rooted in power just as much as it was rooted in sex. Feminists were not challenging the amount of sex men were able to have, but men did
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Friedan positioned lesbians as an enemy of the feminist movement, disparaging lesbians as "one of feminism 's foremost internal threats" (Poirot 263). By making this statement, Friedan further marginalized a group heavily affected by the patriarchy. Likewise, second-wave feminism has been criticized for focusing mainly on middle-class white women and ignoring the needs of women of color. In the journal “Looking for Feminism: Racial Dynamics and Generational Investments in Second Wave” by Mary Ann Clawson, Clawson criticizes the mainstream second-wave feminism’s focus on the nuclear family, stating that the white feminists overlooked both the importance of family to black women as a “unique site of resistance to the ravages wrought by racism” (qtd. in 529) and the financial privilege middle-class women had that would allow them to not have to rely on the nuclear

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