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The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
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Jun 11, 13

really liked it
bookshelves: gender-studies
Read in June, 2008

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” (though I find today the phrase “stay-at-home mom” to be more popular), and very large employers like the University of Chicago get away without day care in the surrounding neighborhood.

However, as profoundly important as this book is as a call to arms to find a higher purpose in your life than waxing your kitchen floor, I don’t think it needs to be as long as it is. Many parts are repetitive, and the dissection of Freudian psychology is unnecessary. The result is, as persuaded as I was by the book’s message, there was many I time I set the book down and had no temptation to pick it up again to learn another fascinating nuance of Freudian psychology or Meadian anthropology.

Therefore, I would recommend to read only the following chapters:

1. The problem That Has No Name
2. The Happy Housewife Heroine
3. The Crisis in Woman’s Identity

4. The Passionate Journey – optional if you want to read about the history of feminism, but not at all necessary to the book’s point

8. The Mistaken Choice
9. The Sexual Sell
10. Housewifery Expands to Fill the Time Available

14. A New Life Plan for Women

The intervening tracts on Freud, Mead, and how overprotective mothering causes autism and homosexuality, are completely unnecessary.

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Terri thanks for the suggestions because the Freudian stuff is painfully useless


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