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The Feminine Mystique

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3.87  ·  Rating details ·  19,884 ratings  ·  1,373 reviews
Landmark, groundbreaking, classic—these adjectives barely do justice to the pioneering vision and lasting impact of The Feminine Mystique. Published in 1963, it gave a pitch-perfect description of “the problem that has no name”: the insidious beliefs and institutions that undermined women’s confidence in their intellectual capabilities and kept them in the home. Writing in ...more
Paperback, 562 pages
Published September 3rd 2013 by W. W. Norton Company (first published February 19th 1963)
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Patricia Hilliard I read this book when I was 25. It helped me to understand my mother who was not a feminist but a woman who was frustrated by the social push to send…moreI read this book when I was 25. It helped me to understand my mother who was not a feminist but a woman who was frustrated by the social push to send women back to the kitchen and the bedroom after working in the factories during WWII. She wanted to be a nurse and help "our boys on the front," but instead the war ended and so did her dreams of being of service and having a career.(less)
Patricia Hilliard Themes how women, even in the U.S., are limited in what they are allowed to do, say or wear.

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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
...more
Jennie
Sep 19, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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 It gave me some things to think about, despite being hopelessly outdated and terribly repetitive.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
Lisa
Feb 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Terry
May 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: women-s-history
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
Terri Lynn
Jun 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Mariℓina
May 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan is an iconic book that relentlessly changed the way the American woman saw herself, until its first publication in 1963. Feministic in a good way, without the morbid extravaganza other reads of that type hold, it's relevant even now and if you don't choose to believe so, at least you can appreciate it as a historical document.


In my opinion the above statement holds more truth than any other quote about gender equality every did. Of course not all of her
...more
Roslyn
Jan 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
I am very grateful for all the things Betty Friedan did so that I was raised in a less sexist world. That being said, this book was pretty bad for two main reasons. First, Friedan writes emotionally rather than rationally. She does not appeal to my rational brain but rather attempts to manipulate me emotionally by painting a very dramatic portrait that pins Every Problem Ever on women staying home with the kids. Friedan has to resort to this style of emotional fluff (that I find very boring) ...more
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
...more
Bloodorange
I read excerpts from The Feminine Mystique at university, and have wanted to read entire book for a few years now. While this book is still important and highlights the ways in which sociology, higher ed, economy - hell, even architecture - betrayed women, for every positive post-it note I found something problematic I would love to see addressed in a footnote or the foreword, which will probably never happen in my lifetime. Sorry for focusing on the bad and the ugly, but this book already has ...more
Thomas
Jan 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Such a revolutionary work for its age. I feel thankful that Betty Friedan had the guts to publish this feminist manifesto and give voice to the dissatisfaction of so many women around her. Keep in mind The Feminine Mystique's publication date: now, it may seem obvious that women are so much more than placid housewives and subservient sex objects, but back in early twentieth century America, they still faced blatant sexism masked under messages about how to maintain a family. I still see these ...more
Mary
Apr 10, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-reviews
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!

Every woman in my generation heard the battle cry & read her book! I'm glad I didn't actually
...more
carolime
Aug 25, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Dennis
Oct 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, sociology
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
Moxie
Jan 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Lobstergirl
Apr 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Adrianne Mathiowetz
Sep 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Some context: I have always considered myself a feminist, from the first time I heard the word around age 10. In junior high I became a loyal subscriber of "New Moon" and vehement despiser of "Teen," and after my parents went to bed I'd sneak into online chat rooms to assume the identity of a 27 year old veteran named Roger who was staunchly anti-war and pro-choice. (Turned out people were much more willing to engage with him than a 14 year old girl, in a pretty rad reverse to-catch-a-predator ...more
Cat Tobin
Mar 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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,
...more
Beth
Feb 04, 2008 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Putting this on my re-read list. I have changed a lot since reading it in college. Updated review pending.
Brenda
Jul 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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, should be a must read for all women in
...more
Nicholas During
Mar 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Elizabeth
Apr 17, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gender-studies
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
Elaine
Nov 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-books
That's my mother.

The difference between then and now? Pizza Bagels.
Cassy
Mar 09, 2017 rated it did not like it
Awful. Just awful. The moment you compare the lives of American middle class housewives to concentration camp inhabitants. I'm out.
Dana
Jan 28, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review time.
Disclaimer. Had this books been written within the last 20 years I would have given it 1 star. But it's not. It was written almost 50 years ago.

Is this book an important read for a feminist? Yes. Hell yes. Why?

1- This book is relevant. The book discussed a problem that plagues women (granted a specific woman of a certain ethnicity, income, level of education and social status) when they abandon all pursuits and take on occupation: housewife.
In that sense it reads almost like a
...more
Sam
This is one of the books that has become somewhat legendary in the world of feminism, being cited as one of those that triggered the second wave of the movement and firing Friedan straight into the spotlight. I started reading it in the somewhat nieve expectation (hope?) that much of what Friedan had to say in the 60s was no longer relevent and that this would just be an interesting insight into how things used to be. Sadly I was wrong. This is as relevent today as it was then, perhaps even more ...more
Judy
Oct 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Getting through his iconic feminist text took work but I am so glad I read it. The work of reading it took different forms.

Hardest to read were the passages where she cited primary sources such as Freudian psychiatry, sociology, magazine writing, and the advertising of the times. Only when I reached the end of the book did I appreciate the meticulous way in which she built her thesis. It made for a good many pages of fairly dry reading.

I concluded that she had been influenced by both Simon de
...more
Margaret Robbins
Mar 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am super happy that I read this book. I can understand why it has gotten some criticism, and a book of this nature written in the present day would have to better address intersectionality. There would need to be more attention paid to the issues of women of color, poor women, immigrant women, LGBT women, etc.

That said, as a feminist scholar, I'm glad I read this book. I think it was an important book for the time it was written, and it was brave enough to address the stigma against
...more
Emily
Nov 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.

...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",
...more
Sarah
Mar 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
4.5 stars.

I'm going to sum what I want to say in some questions from the book,

"Did women want these freedoms because they wanted to be men? Or did they want them because they also were human?"

"What happens when education gives new authority to the feminine ' shoulds ' - which already have the authority of tradition, convention, prejudice, popular opinion - instead of giving women the power of critical thought, the independence and autonomy to question blind authority, new or old?"

"what happens
...more
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277 followers
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.
“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?” 534 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.” 102 likes
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