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The Feminine Mystique Essay

1201 words - 5 pages

The Feminine Mystique is the title of a book written by Betty Friedan who also foundedThe National Organization for Women (NOW) to help US women gain equal rights. Shedescribes the 'feminine mystique' as the heightened awareness of the expectations of womenand how each woman has to fit a certain role as a little girl, an uneducated and unemployedteenager, and finally as a wife and mother who is to happily clean the kitchen and cook things allday. After World War II, a lot of women's organizations began to appear with the goal ofbringing the issues of equal rights into the limelight.The stereotype even came down to the color of a woman's hair. Many women wishedthat 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 tofit a certain mold which was portrayed as the role of women. Blacks were naturally excludedfrom the notion of ideal women and they suffered additional discrimination which was evengreater than that which the white women suffered from.In addition to hair color, women often went to great lengths to achieve a thin figure. Thelook 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 pillsthat 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 were lead tobelieve that working outside of the home was for men and that it would not be feminine for themto get jobs and be single without a husband or children to take care of.An enormous problem for women was the psychological stress of dealing with this rolethat was presented to them. The happily married, perpetually baking, eternally mopping, DonnaReed that lived in every house on the block with her hard working husband and her twelvechildren that existed in the media made women feel that there was something wrong with them ifthey didn't enjoy their housewife lifestyle. And it was not easy for women to deal with thisproblem. As Betty Friedan writes in The Feminine Mystique, 'For over fifteen years women inAmerica found it harder to talk about this problem than about sex. (Kerber/DeHart 515).'Many psychiatrists were baffled and the problem was often ignored with no known solutionbecause everyone found it to not make any sense.Women of low economic status also struggled a great deal because they had to dealwith the problems associated with a single income household which could become veryfrustrating when she has every reason to get a job, but cannot. It is also harder to raise childrenwith a low income and provide for the family as she was expected to.It is interesting to apply the notion of the feminine mystique to modern...

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