The Feminine Mystique
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The Feminine Mystique

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3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  11,080 ratings  ·  755 reviews
The book that changed the consciousness of a country—and the world.

First published in 1963, The Feminine Mystique ignited a revolution that profoundly changed our culture, our conciousness, and our lives. Today it newly penetrates to the heart of issues determining our lives and sounds a call to arms against the very real dangers of a new feminine mystique in the economic...more
Paperback, 592 pages
Published September 17th 2001 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published October 18th 1923)
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Community Reviews

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El
Ladies, the next time you decide you don't want to cook dinner that night, that you'd rather read a book instead... I want you to give a little fist-bump to the heavens in honor of Betty Friedan. It's because of her that you even have that opportunity to make that choice.

Let's clear something up right now - The Feminine Mystique is not a text on how to become a man-hating, radical, hairy-armpitted lesbian. If that's what you think this is about, my review isn't going to change your mind so you m...more
Lisa
Sep 08, 2009 Lisa rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Housewives.
Shelves: sex-and-womens
What struck me the most when I read this as a teenager (and this was the first of its genre I read) was how, in excruciatingly familiar detail, it described my mother. God rest her soul, I didn't appreciate it at the time and it didn't make me any less of a brat. Her life had been a life typical of many women that entered the workforce during WWII. Instead of marrying when the war ended, she stayed on and attained a position of prominence for a woman at that time. She married very late, at age 2...more
Jennie
i don't think i've ever seen the word "beatnikery" in print before.....

i think the reason to read this book is to gain an understanding of feminism in the mid-century Zietgiest. It gave me some things to think about, despite being hopelessly outdated and terribly repetitive. i was particularly intrigued by the idea that manufacturers would want to keep women bored and at home in order to sell them more consumer goods. As a full-time "career woman" (in Ms. Friedan's parlance) i find i can still...more
Terry
Reading this book is bittersweet for me. Every sentence, every paragraph, every chapter, I'm cheering Friedan on. At first, I kept thinking, "If only I'd read this when I was a teenager in the early 1970s, it would have saved me a lot of grief--the years I spent looking for men to save me, to give me an identity. If I'd read it back then, maybe I would have recognized the wretched inequalities in my world." The book so clearly depicts the ideals of my mother and of many women of her generation (...more
Beth
Dec 30, 2012 Beth marked it as to-read
Putting this on my re-read list. I have changed a lot since reading it in college. Updated review pending.
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Have you ever read one of Richard Yates's novels such as Revolutionary Road and said "Gaaaawwwwwd, he's a great writer, but why'd he have to make it so depressing?"? The Feminine Mystique will show you that he was accurately portraying the despair and feeling of entrapment many married women were experiencing in post-WWII America.

4.5 stars
Hard to rate because it's often needlessly wordy and overlong in general, but her extensive research and groundbreaking (at the time) information warrant a h...more
Moxie
I picked up this book on a whim because its one of those books that we all know played an important part in the women's movement. But, having grown up a generation after the women's movement began, I always sort of felt like there wouldn't be a whole lot in there that I didn't already know or hadn't already heard. I have to say, though, I learned quite a bit.

It is a dense book with very long chapters and therefore is not a quick read. And although there is a little bit of repetitiveness, you can...more
carolime
required reading for feminists, i've been told. for me, it was helpful to read this in light of my recent life changes-- i think that the past failures of society towards women should be a learning opportunity for me.

that said, it is important to note that the book was written in 1963 and the "women" it seeks to represent are mostly white, mid- to upper-class, living in prosperous cities and suburbs in the northeast. it isn't an exhaustive cataloguing of ills! i consider it merely an expository...more
Terri Lynn
I was born in 1959 and when this came out originally in 1963, I was 4 years old. I went to school in Atlanta in the 1960's and 1970's. When I was in elementary school- grades 1-7- from fall of 1965 to June of 1972, I was struck by the differences between other women and my mother. For example, every single one of the other moms of the kids in my classes from 1st to 7th grade were housewives.

While those moms cooked, cleaned, raised kids, gossiped with each other, and volunteered to give class pa...more
Mary
I had a demeaning encounter with Ms Friedan on the topic of celebrating 30 years of the Feminist Movement. As a Homemaker-Mom, she chastised me for aiming to put the women's movement back 30 years. Wasting my education, becoming overly invested in my children, she tried her best to shame me into compliance. Never one to comply ... I left her royal presence shaking my head. What an angry woman!

Years later, working with some new moms of a younger generation I mentioned the criticisms dished out to...more
Elizabeth
So Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique is to feminism as Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring is to environmentalism: works that defined a movement and changed the world so profoundly that the worlds described within them seem alien to my modern eyes.

Some things, of course, haven’t changed: the feminine mystique (that is, societal pressure to be “feminine”) is alive and well: girls experience more pressure to be pretty than to be smart, there is no social stigma to claim your occupation as “housewife...more
Cat Tobin
It terrifies me how relevant this book still is to my life today, and how much of my mother - and to some extent, myself - I see in the women Friedan is addressing.

Dealing predominantly with a mystery malaise impacting American housewives in the 1950s, The Feminine Mystique is a call to action; a reminder that equality doesn't end with winning the votes, it ends with both sexes being equally encouraged, and empowered, to fully realise their potential as a human being.

A powerful message, eloquen...more
Lobstergirl
Apr 04, 2013 Lobstergirl rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: Caligula
Shelves: own

Carrie Underwood is a chart-topping superstar, but she'd give it all up for her husband, hockey player Mike Fisher.

"If Mike ever told me he needed me to quit, I'd quit," Underwood told People magazine Wednesday. "When you make that promise to somebody, and you stand before God and your family and friends, you've got to do everything that you possibly can to make that work."

Underwood also revealed that Fisher's fit body inspires her to keep in shape.

"Even when he's like, 'I'm so out of shape,' he
...more
Kats
Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique is widely considered a modern classic and seen as the seminal, ground-breaking work which supposedly single-handedly started the second wave of feminism back in the 1960s. I kept seeing Betty Draper in virtually every chapter of the book and wondered if the character in Mad Men was actually named after Betty Friedan as some kind of twisted joke.

Whilst many people in my book club didn't manage to read the whole book (they thought it "dry", "repetitive", "har...more
Dennis
I suppose that if I owned a bra, now I would burn it? Truth be told, the tone and even the message of this book were unexpectedly a tad bit tamer than I had presumed. That is, in building the bandwagon to rescue hordes of imagined "captive wives" still enthralled by that evil "mystique" that cannot be named, and its resultant suburban housewifery, Betty Friedan does not throw men and marriage under the bus, at least not directly.

The main idea here, of course, is that between 1945 and 1960 women...more
Nicholas During
What a powerful book, and I think not very out-of-date. Betty Friedan does some studies of women, university graduates, and discovers that in the 50s and early 60s women were dropping out of school, getting married younger than any time before, and dleaving the workplace to be housewife at a higher rate than previously was occurring. Why, she asks, is this happening in a time when the feminist movement was meant to have won some serious gains. The reason is "the feminine mystique," the idea that...more
Brenda


The following quote sums up much of what I took away from the book: "Self-esteem in woman, as well as in man, can only be based on real capacity, competence, and achievement; on deserved respect from others rather than unwarranted adulation....if (that) occupation does not demand, or permit, realization of woman's full abilities, it cannot provide self-esteem, much less pave the way to a higher level of self-realization."

This is a book that, while dated, it should be a must read for women in pat...more
Elaine
That's my mother.

The difference between then and now? Pizza Bagels.
Emily
A five star review doesn't mean I am uncritical of this book. My rating system isn't perfect, and neither is Betty Friedan.

The Feminine Mystique is a reputable work. The impact it has had on American women's history is unparalleled, and the book should therefore remain canonized as a pivotal feminist text. The Feminine Mystique carries a timeless message for women who have begun fight back against patriarchy, but need the occasional reminder that beginning a fight isn't winning a war.

Neverthele...more
Kendall
The Feminine Mystique is both a snapshot of history and presently relevant, because, as Anna Quindlin writes in the introduction to this edition, "so much has changed, and too little, too, so that rereading the book now feels both revolutionary and utterly contemporary." Friedan makes incredibly astute observations about not only the inequality women subject themselves to by choosing "Occupation: housewife", but also the ways in which women attempted to find identity/status/happiness through the...more
Ilan
There is certainly a reason why this book is only read in fragments in college classes. I was shocked by some of Friedan's opinions, especially concerning homosexuals and her comparison of housewives and Holocaust victims. Not to mention her thoughts about Beatnik culture.
I still believe in a lot of what she says about women's lib and the problem that has no name, but her arguments could be a little tighter and less extraneous.
Riddhi
Incredible. Definitely a must read to gain perspective on how far we've come, why feminism is still relevant, and to show us that the more things change, the more they stay the same in certain ways. I for one, kept drawing parallels to what I'd seen with my mum, and countless other women from her generation in India, while growing up.
Sarah Lawrence
Certainly a fascinating read, if a bit dated in places. The person who lent me the book said it was a bit like a time capsule, which I definitely agree with. To that end, the introduction, epilogue, afterword, and "Thinking Back and to the Future" were some of the most interesting sections for me. They put the book in perspective--and it wasn't just other feminists commenting, either. Bettey Friedan herself wrote about the book a few years, ten years, and (I think) forty years after publication....more
Debbie
May 06, 2009 Debbie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Women
Recommended to Debbie by: Belle
This is why we dont want thing the way we they were before women had more right Many women were really isolated and alienated at home without even the internet as a way to reach out. It is hard to be isolated in this way in todays world because there is a way to reach out, although its faceless.
Velvetink
Just changed the rating from 3 to 4 because it's an important book that should be read. (I tend to mark rather hard and low on books I've read in the past - probably because they are not immediately fresh in my mind.)
marc
i really got a lot out of reading this.

the negatives: i think some of the supporting evidence cited was dodgy. the chapter devoted to sex is particularly suspect in its claims of more difficult childbirths etc by women who have no identities external to mother role and housewifery, and this chapter also contains arguments on homosexuality that are internally logically inconsistent with the rest of friedan's argument. friedan's arguments are also very concerned with a particular, dominant populat...more
Amanda
This book made me think a lot. As everyone says, and I agree, parts of it read as really outdated - the Freud takedown for one - and parts feel extremely relevant. It's one of the better analyses of insidious advertising I've ever read. Those people were better than Don Draper!
This book is not only a critique of gender roles, but also has a firm vision of a worthwhile life. She argues that a full life needs intellectual stimulation and work for a goal larger than yourself. I don't disagree, but...more
Erica
I found this fascinating. It is a historical text, and it is very apparent why this would have been groundbreaking when it was first published: it was both well researched and carefully written to a very specific audience, namely the white (though much of it applies to women of other races as well), middle- to upper-class suburban housewife of the 1960s. It’s somewhat appalling to see just how deeply ingrained the “woman’s place is in the home” mantra was at one time, a message repeated in both...more
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Bookies Club with...: The Feminine Mystique 1 13 Jul 10, 2012 03:01AM  
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  • Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics
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  • Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman's Guide to Why Feminism Matters
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  • Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution
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Betty Friedan was an American feminist, activist and writer, best known for starting what is commonly known as the "Second Wave" of feminism through the writing of her book The Feminine Mystique.
More about Betty Friedan...
Fountain of Age The Second Stage: With a New Introduction Life So Far: A Memoir It Changed My Life: Writings on the Women's Movement Beyond Gender: The New Politics of Work and Family

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“Each suburban wife struggles with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night- she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question-- 'Is this all?” 334 likes
“The only way for a woman, as for a man, to find herself, to know herself as a person, is by creative work of her own.” 38 likes
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