Essay on Betty Friedan 's The Feminine Mystique

Essay on Betty Friedan 's The Feminine Mystique

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Written for the average American housewife, author Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique is a true feminist novel. The piece of work was published in 1963, almost two decades after the end of WWII, at a time when a woman’s expected role was to be a housewife and a mother. It was during the war, however, that it was seen as socially acceptable, and even patriotic, for a woman to work and have a career outside of the home, being that the men were away at combat. With the demand of women in the workforce at an all time high, images of strong, ambitious, working women emerged throughout the media and press. Marketers capitalized on the theme of war and on this newfound sense of patriotism for women, and used it to sell their products. For women of virtually all socioeconomic classes, this was an uplifting time. Women were able to express themselves in their new careers and go about life in a more independent and hands-on manner: “Many [women] took on these jobs as a patriotic duty, but they also gained great joy and satisfaction from these jobs. Moreover, some explained how these jobs made them more independent. Many women stated that their self-esteem was greatly increased because they realized they could do things that they never imagined possible” (Norris 8). This time of female enjoyment, however, came to an end once the men returned from war and were lawfully entitled to work at the jobs and careers women temporarily held.
Post WWII is the era Friedan’s novel highlights; a time when women were to return home to their expected roles as housewives and mothers to live through what Friedan would describe as being dissatisfaction and unhappiness. This is when the ads, commercials, and the media began portraying women in a different li...


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... highlight the crucial part the media, magazine editors, and marketers played in establishing female societal roles post WWII and in ultimately constructing what became known as the feminine mystique, but the lives of housewives during this period could have been much worse. To describe this unequal treatment of women as progressive dehumanization and as a comfortable concentration camp is absurd, dramatic, and offensive. These women were by no means imprisoned in their homes or forced to live as housewives. Yes, it was seen as a social norm to be a housewife and devote one’s life to marrying and starting a family, but it was not absolute law. With The Feminine Mystique, women were able to realize the answer to their problems as housewives and seek an alternative happiness, but to equate this lifestyle to a form of torture or hell on Earth is ridiculous (Friedan 282).

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