The Feminine Mystique

The Feminine Mystique

3.8 10
by Betty Friedan
     
 

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The first student edition of Betty Friedan’s national best seller published in honor of its fiftieth anniversary. The Feminine Mystique forever changed America’s consciousness by defining “the problem that has no name.”The Feminine Mystique (1963) is a powerful critique of women’s roles in contemporary American society. Drawing on new…  See more details below

Overview

The first student edition of Betty Friedan’s national best seller published in honor of its fiftieth anniversary. The Feminine Mystique forever changed America’s consciousness by defining “the problem that has no name.”The Feminine Mystique (1963) is a powerful critique of women’s roles in contemporary American society. Drawing on new scholarship in the social sciences, Betty Friedan attacked a wide range of institutions—among them women’s magazines, women’s colleges, and advertisers—for promoting a one-dimensional image of women as happy housewives. This image, Friedan suggested, created a “feminine mystique,” a belief that “fulfillment as a woman had only one definition for American women after 1949—the housewife-mother.” The book soon became a national best seller, with over a million copies sold.
This Norton Critical Edition of Friedan’s phenomenal book traces its cultural and historical significance over its first fifty years. The text of The Feminine Mystique is accompanied by an introduction and is fully annotated.
Friedan’s book is the product of her early life as an activist, a student, and an intellectual while also drawing on her own experiences as a wife and mother. “Origins and Influences” includes writings that helped shape the author’s ideas about women and society. These works are topically organized: “Childhood World,” “Intellectual Influences,” “Domesticity and ‘Momism’ during the Cold War,” “Popular-Front Feminism,” “The Power of the Feminine Mystique on Betty Friedan?,” and finally, “Female Labor Force Participation Trends in the Twentieth Century.” Among the authors included are Robert S. and Helen Merrell Lynd, Friedrich Engels, Margaret Mead, Amram Scheinfeld, and Simone de Beauvoir.
The 1960s was a time of great upheaval in America with sweeping changes throughout society including women’s rights, civil rights, peace movements, environmental movements, student activism, and the sexual revolution. It was also a time when a number of American Jewish intellectuals, including Friedan, made comparisons between American life and Nazi destruction. “The Turn of the Sixties: Political, Intellectual, and Cultural Ferment” provides readers with an understanding of The Feminine Mystique’s contemporary context through relevant U.S. government documents and through the voices of, among others, Eleanor Roosevelt, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., Helen Gurley Brown, and Bruno Bettelheim.
More impressive than even The Feminine Mystique’s best-seller status and the debate it sparked in the national press is its broader cultural significance. Hundreds of women wrote to Friedan about how the book affected them personally. “Impact” includes a selection of these letters from the Betty Friedan Papers, along with feminist writings from the second (Pauli Murray, Robin Morgan, Bella Abzug) and third (Rebecca Walker, Naomi Wolf, Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards) waves of feminism, and the backlash against the movement and The Feminine Mystique (Phyllis Schlafly).
The book also includes a section on the scholarship on The Feminine Mystique, with excerpts from scholars such as Daniel Horowitz, Joanne Meyerowitz, Ruth Rosen, and Stephanie Coontz. Analyses of Betty Friedan as a historian, the evolution of her ideas, and the legacy of The Feminine Mystique on its fiftieth anniversary are included.
A Chronology of Betty Friedan’s life and work and a Selected Bibliography are also included.

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Editorial Reviews

Alvin Toffler
The book that pulled the trigger on history.
Marilyn French
[A] bridge between conservative and radical elements in feminism, an ardent advocate of harmony and human values. —Esquire
Amitai Etzioni
One of those rare books we are endowed with only once in several decades.
Anna Quindlen
“[The Feminine Mystique] now feels both revolutionary and utterly contemporary. . . . Four decades later, millions of individual transformations later, there is still so much to learn from this book. . . . Those who think of it as solely a feminist manifesto ought to revisit its pages to get a sense of the magnitude of the research and reporting Friedan undertook.”
Marilyn French - Esquire
“[A] bridge between conservative and radical elements in feminism, an ardent advocate of harmony and human values.”
Esquire
[A] bridge between conservative and radical elements in feminism, an ardent advocate of harmony and human values.— Marilyn French
Esquire - Marilyn French
“[A] bridge between conservative and radical elements in feminism, an ardent advocate of harmony and human values.”
Arianna Huffington - O Magazine
“The Feminine Mystique forever changed the conversation as well as the way women view themselves. If you’ve never read it, read it now and reflect on what our mothers and grandmothers were feeling at the time. It’s a great moment to celebrate this milestone work, which fundamentally altered the course of women’s lives.”
Nanette Fondas - The Atlantic
“Re-reading The Feminine Mystique, it exudes love for the human being, human spirit, and human potential. She wants mothers—indeed, all people—to "lean in" to life's work and not fear inevitable difficulties that arise when trying to "have it all" and juggle work and family. Overcome obstacles. Solve problems. Serve leftovers, she urges. Betty Friedan wrote The Feminine Mystique 50 years ago, but today her wisdom still merits sharing.”
Andi Zeisler - Salon
“The Tupac Shakur of literary feminism, reincarnated at least once every decade with new insights that engender old beefs while at the same time serving as a reminder of why it’s a classic.”
Library Journal
Friedan was a college graduate and reporter who lost her job when pregnant with the second of her three children. She found the role of homemaker unfulfilling and wondered if other women in her graduating class felt the same way, so she surveyed them in preparation for a college reunion. The responses were the basis of this title, which hit bookstore/library shelves like a bomb in February 1963. This 50th-anniversary edition sports a new intro by New York Times columnist Gail Collins and an afterword by novelist Anna Quindlen.

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Kirkus Reviews
The 50th-anniversary edition of a modern classic, featuring an introduction by Gail Collins and an afterword by Anna Quindlen. A great deal has changed since Friedan's monumental book was published, but readers should not be discouraged from revisiting it. In 1929, Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own helped define the goals women had been seeking for 100 years, and Friedan picked up the ball and drove it forward, giving women the right and the will to "be." The days of functional education are gone--no more college courses on marriage--and the image of the "little woman" is also a thing of the past; women are no longer just living vicariously through husbands and children. What still lingers is the exaltation of housework, the need for a "woman's touch" and the advertising industry's continued attempts at glorifying the role of women in family and society. Having a man cooking, putting away the groceries or holding the baby doesn't change the old image of Mom running the house and Dad earning the living. The author notes that in the 1930s and '40s, women were more likely to apply their college educations in meaningful careers, even though many still ran the house. The onset of World War II changed all that. Suddenly, it was society that defined what a woman was, ignoring the constant quest for "something more." Also included in this edition of the groundbreaking book is the introduction to the 10th-anniversary edition and Friedan's 1997 piece, "Metamorphosis: Two Generations Later." A vastly significant book that has made a world of difference, much of it slowly acquired.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393934656
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
12/21/2012
Series:
Norton Critical Editions Series
Pages:
560
Sales rank:
351,445
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.40(d)

What People are saying about this

Anna Quindlen
[The Feminine Mystique] now feels both revolutionary and utterly contemporary. . . . Four decades later, millions of individual transformations later, there is still so much to learn from this book. . . . Those who think of it as solely a feminist manifesto ought to revisit its pages to get a sense of the magnitude of the research and reporting Friedan undertook.
Amitai Etzioni
One of those rare books we are endowed wIth only once in several decades, a volume that launched a major social movement....Betty Friedan is a liberator of women and men.
— (Amitai Etzioni, author of The Spirit of Community: The Reinvention of American Society)
Alvin Toffler
The book that puled the trigger on history. Future Shock)

Meet the Author

Betty Friedan (1921–2006), a transformational leader of the women’s movement, founded the National Organization for Women (NOW) and authored many works, including The Second Stage, The Fountain of Age, and Life So Far.

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The Feminine Mystique 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was so completly outstanding. I couldn't put it down. It explained how feminisim developed and what type of forms it is disguised in. This book should be in every women's home. Everybody including men should read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Though the problems and statistics have changed much of it resonates with my own experiences. Women should be required to read this book, especially after they've gotten married or had children. So many questions I could not find the words for have now been answered. And a reminder to carry forward doing what makes us happiest.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read it and widen your horizons a bit. Skip the latest paperback bestseller and use your mind instead.