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.

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