The Feminine Mystique Essay

1839 Words 8 Pages
Betty Friedan, after experiencing feelings of depression, self-loathing, and dissatisfaction as a mother and housewife, published The Feminine Mystique in 1963. The book, which focused on the “problem that has no name,” promoted awareness of society’s pressure on women to be seen in a certain way, especially in advertising. As Joyce Hart points out in her essay, this propaganda told women that being a wife and mother was all there was to their lives, and that they had to find meaning by standing in their family’s shadow. Hart states, “As young wives, women sought recognition through their husbands. As mothers, women promoted themselves through their children. Their offspring’s accomplishments were their own. It was one more excuse, …show more content…
Friedan also addresses other issues that contributed to the “problem that has no name,” including a “crisis in a woman’s identity” and “the sexual shell” (Friedan 55, 172). Overall, The Feminine Mystique drew societal attention to the problems faced by women, helped women identify their unhappiness, and recognize that their feelings were not caused by themselves, but by an unfair pressure thrust upon them by society. The identification and recognition of this by women allowed The Feminine Mystique to become a “catalyst for social change” (Seaman 9) that led to the formation of many women’s liberation organizations as well as changes in federal law that attempted to provide some protection to women in the workplace. According to Rachel Bowlby, author of the Feminist Review’s article “’The Problem With No Name’: Rereading Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique,” Freidan’s publication “acted as a catalyst to the western feminist movement”( Bowlby 61). After The Feminine Mystique hit bookstore shelves, many women wrote to Friedan to give her feedback on the book. Author Stephanie Coontz recounts several of these letters in her book A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s. Coontz describes some of the letters: “ The book, declared one woman, ‘perfectly’ described the forces that had been ‘flinging me against a wall of self incrimination’. Another explained: ‘I

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