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Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique

Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique

The Feminine Mystique is the title of a book written by the late Betty Friedan

who also founded The National Organization for Women (NOW) to help US women gain

equal rights. She describes the "feminine mystique" as the heightened awareness

of the expectations of women and how each woman has to fit a certain role as a

little girl, an uneducated and unemployed teenager, and finally as a wife and

mother who is happy to clean the house and cook things all day. After World

War II, a lot of women's organizations began to appear with the goal of bringing

the issues of equal rights into the limelight.

The stereotype even came down to the color of a woman's hair. Many

women wished that they could be blonde because that was the ideal hair color.

In The Feminine Mystique, Friedan writes that "across America, three out of

every ten women dyed their hair blonde " (Kerber/DeHart 514). This serves as

an example of how there was such a push for women to fit a certain mold which

was portrayed as the role of women. Blacks were naturally excluded from the

notion of ideal women and they suffered additional discrimination which was even

greater than that which the white women suffered from.

In addition to hair color, women often went to great lengths to achieve

a thin figure. The look that women were striving for was the look of the thin

model. Many women wore tight, uncomfortable clothing in order to create the

illusion of being thinner and some even took pills that were supposed to make

them lose weight.

The role of women was to find a husband to support the family that they

would raise. Many women dropped out of college or never went in the first place

because they we...

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... becomes apparent

that there have been great advances through history. Lesbian women were forced

to repress their sexuality and get married in order to live a "normal" life.

Even after homosexuality began it's emergence in the 1970s, lesbianism

was often forgotten somewhere among the controversy. In the words of feminist

author Kate Millett in her book, Sexual Politics which was written in 1970,

"'Lesbianism' would appear to be so little a threat at the moment that it is

hardly ever mentioned… Whatever its potentiality in sexual politics, female

homosexuality is currently so dead an issue that while male homosexuality gains

a grudging tolerance, in women the event is observed in scorn or in silence (pt.

3, ch. 8)." There seems to be no distinction made between homosexual men and

homosexual women in the media and this causes another form of separation.

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