The Feminine Mystique

“It is not enough for an individual to be loved and accepted by others, to be ‘adjusted’ to his culture.  He must take his existence seriously enough to make his own commitment to life, and to the future; he forfeits his existence by failing to fulfill his entire being.”

I finally got around to reading The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan, the ground-breaking book about how women have outgrown being simply housewives.  It was written in the 1960s, at a time when the majority of women were staying home to care for the family, and yet so much of what Friedan said is still relevant today.  The value of education, the necessity of maintaining your sense of self outside of your husband and children, the nature of humanity to keep moving forward and keep growing: these are not dated ideas.  If anything, the reality of these gets truer as the years go by.

I didn’t know much about this book when I first picked it up.  I had heard that it was important and an integral part of the feminist movement, so naturally, my interest was piqued, and when I saw it at the bookstore, I picked it up.  After it had sat at home on my bookshelf for a while, I finally got around to reading it, and then I was kicking myself for not opening it sooner.  From the first few pages, I was hooked.  I’m not a wife or mother, and I clearly don’t live in the 1950s and 60s, but the transcending ideas had taken over my brain, not to mention the amazing history of the movement I am glad to feel apart of.

I couldn’t help but tear up while reading the afterword, written years later by Friedan.  She talked about the impact her book had had and the work she had been doing since, including international gatherings and the creation of NOW (National Organization for Women).  She talked about how far we had come as women and as a society, and when that portion was written in 1993, she talked about how she didn’t think it would be long at all before the discussions of birth control and abortion were a thing of the past and we would even have a woman president shortly.  It saddens me that these are still prevalent issues, and that these matters which should have already been determined, leaving room for other issues, are still the focal points of just about every political platform.  This, to me, is unacceptable.  The oppression and taking away of rights has got to stop in order for us to continue moving forward as a society the way Friedan dreamed we would.

Whether you’re an active feminist, a casual observer, or have absolutely no idea what’s going on with it at all, I recommend this book 100%.  It gives wonderful insight into the evolution of mankind, the evolution of women, and women’s role in the large scope.  It introduces ideas that go beyond feminism, women and housewifery and opens up the mind to look beyond your own home and clearly see the world around you.

The Infinite Possibility of Words

I had an interesting discussion with a friend of mine today.  We were having one of our normal debates, he was giving me the merits of math and science, and I was giving him the merits of reading and writing.  Normally, these debates don’t really go much of anywhere, because we both know that both sides are beneficial, and it’s just our personal preferences that make the difference.  Today, however, it took a different turn.  Somehow, we got to the point where we were debating which one was more infinite.  His argument for math and science was that it covers the vastness of the universe, goes beyond what we know, and therefore is more infinite than writing, which can only reach the limits of what our brains can imagine.  My argument for reading and writing was that math and science will always only have 1 right answer for every problem, and once you solve it, that’s it.  Sure, it may open up other things, but each of those things will still have an answer that we can reach and then move on.  Reading and writing don’t have just one answer.  You can come to your own conclusions about you think something means, but then you can talk to someone else, and they’ll have an entirely different interpretation.  That, in turn, may open up more things in your mind that you hadn’t thought of before, and so your thoughts and understanding of the words will keep going, and it has no finite ending.

Eventually, we, yet again, reached the point where we both accept that the other’s argument has validity, and we just move on.  And yet, I’m still thinking about it.  I’ve got this infinite idea of words stuck in my head now.  I know, it’s been said before in at least 50 different ways that words and writing are ever-powerful, but I’ve never thought before quite so much about the vastness of it.  Not vastness as in how many languages, stories, writings, etc. there are, but vastness as in what all it is capable of.  One sentence can change your mood.  One conversation can change your day.  One story can change your life.  We all have a story or a book that we keep going back to, the pages are worn from being read so many times, and every time we return to it, we take something new away from it based on where we are in our lives at the time.  For me, personally, it’s Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.  Depending on my mood or what’s going on in my life, I can turn to a specific chapter, and something in it will always make me feel better or give me a new perspective.  For me, that story has no end, and what it has done for me is endless.

That, to me, is the true meaning of infinite.  Despite it being the same book every time I open it, it continues to change and adapt into exactly what I need.  I can talk to someone else who has read it and what they’ve taken out of it can be completely different than what I’ve taken, and then it just continues its endless journey through our minds and hearts.