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.

Staying Home: Anti-Feminist?

Is choosing your family over a career anti-feminist?

I’ve seen a lot of questions and discussions on this topic lately.  There seem to be quite a few people under the impression that being a stay-at-home-mom as opposed to having a job or career is something close to the anti-Christ of feminism.  People believe that it is a backwards step for womankind, that the point of the feminist movement is to get women into the work-field and independent of men, and to have women staying at home with their children, cooking, cleaning, taking care of the house, etc. is exactly the opposite of what this society needs.  Maybe it’s because I hear about so much of this from my SAHM cousin so I’m seeing this issue at a pretty close perspective, but in my opinion, those who think that SAHM’s are anti-feminist are not viewing the feminism movement in a proper light.

Feminism and women’s rights are not about making sure all women are working, none of them being stuck at home with the kids anymore.  In truth, for women to reach equality, it’s not about all women working, it’s about women having the choice.  If you want to raise a family, go right ahead.  Then, at that point, it becomes up to you and your partner (if there is one) to decide what’s best for your family.  Is he going to work while you stay home?  Are you going to work while he stays home?  Are you both going to work and opt for either a nanny or daycare?  These are all acceptable answers, if that’s what you decide is the right choice for your family.  If the choice is made for you, and you have to stay home with the children, whether that’s what you want or that’s what’s best for everyone, then it becomes a problem and that’s what we’re fighting against.

Next step: fighting for better maternity benefits for working women, but I’ll save that for another day.