Primary Source Analysis on "The Feminine Mystique"

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Potter 1
Rebecca Potter
Section 4975
12 May 2015
Primary Source Analysis on The Feminine Mystique The Feminine Mystique is the title of a book written by Betty Friedan who has 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 Feminine Mystique also seems to come
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Friedan also notes that this is helped along by the fact that many of the women who work during the war filling jobs previously filled by men faced dismissal, discrimination, or hostility when the men returned, and that educators blame over-educated, career-focused mothers for the maladjustment of soldiers in World War II. Yet as Friedan shows, later studies find that overbearing mothers, not careerists, are the ones who raised maladjusted children. It is interesting to apply the notion of the feminine mystique to modern culture and see that it often still exists. Though there are many women who are getting jobs, there are still a lot of families that fit the mold of the traditional family with the breadwinner and the bread baker with bunch of kids running around. Some counterarguments that could be made against The Feminine Mystique are that it focuses on what was not a universal female problem but rather a problem endured only by white, upper- and middle-class mothers and wives. Friedan's phrase, "the problem that has no name,”(15) could actually refer to the plight of a select group of college-educated, middle- and upper-class, married white women or housewives bored with leisure, with the home, with children, with buying products, who want more out of life. Friedan concludes her first chapter by stating: "We can no longer ignore that voice within women that says: 'I want something more than my husband and my children and my house.’”(32) That "more"

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