The Feminine Mystique

This is one of those books that people know about but nobody has ever read. For most girls of my generation we first heard of the book watching “10 Things I Hate About You”. In high school I asked for a copy of the book for Christmas. I was entering a superficial phase of feminism where I didn’t wear a bra, was overly casual in regards to sex, read solely female authors and listened to angry girl rock.

I can’t tell you how long Betty Friedan’s masterpiece sat on my bookshelf, staring, daring me to read it, but I can guess it’s at least 7 years. Part of me is glad I’d never read it. I don’t think I would have had the maturity or the sense of identity necessary to understand what she was talking about. But what I can say now, with absolute certainty is that you should read this book. If you’ve ever wanted to have a better insight into the choices your mother or her mother made, if you’ve struggled with the path that lays ahead of you as a woman, if you’ve ever wanted to better understand the trends of women and marriage throughout the last century as well as women and education, this book provides so much information.

There were several significant flaws in Friedan’s book, most of which I think can be easily seen as a result of the time period she was a part of. She sums up homosexual males as the result of mothers who are overly involved in their children’s lives. His mother “who kept him from becoming a man”. Friedan also spends a significant amount of time drawing comparisons between women who are kept at home and concentration camps. The comparison is made to dramatize the experience of the housewife but in reality it distracts from her message because it makes her seem cruel and insensitive.

Despite these and other flaws in this book,  it has felt more enlightening, more eye opening,  to me than anything I have read since college. Everyone, man or woman, should at least flip through these pages. This is a work that shook our nation and woke people up. And let’s be honest, we’re not done yet.


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