The Feminine Mystique Quotes

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The Feminine Mystique The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
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The Feminine Mystique Quotes (showing 1-30 of 53)
“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?”
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
“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.”
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
“In almost every professional field, in business and in the arts and sciences, women are still treated as second-class citizens. It would be a great service to tell girls who plan to work in society to expect this subtle, uncomfortable discrimination--tell them not to be quiet, and hope it will go away, but fight it. A girl should not expect special privileges because of her sex, but neither should she "adjust" to prejudice and discrimination”
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
“Chosen motherhood is the real liberation. The choice to have a child makes the whole experience of motherhood different, and the choice to be generative in other ways can at last be made, and is being made by many women now, without guilt.”
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
“What Friedan gave to the world was, "the problem that has no name." She not only named it but dissected it. The advances of science, the development of labor-saving appliances, the development of the suburbs: all had come together to offer women in the 1950s a life their mothers had scarcely dreamed of, free from rampant disease, onerous drudgery, noxious city streets. But the green lawns and big corner lots were isolating, the housework seemed to expand to fill the time available, and polio and smallpox were replaced by depression and alcoholism. All that was covered up in a kitchen conspiracy of denial...
[i]nstead the problem was with the mystique of waxed floors and perfectly applied lipstick.”
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
“Over and over again, stories in women's magazines insist that women can know fulfillment only at the moment of giving birth to a child. They deny the years when she can no longer look forward to giving birth, even if she repeats the act over and over again. In the feminine mystique, there is no other way for a woman to dream of creation or of the future. There is no other way she can even dream about herself, except as her children's mother, her husband's wife.”
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
“We have gone on too long blaming or pitying the mothers who devour their children, who sow the seeds of progressive dehumanization, because they have never grown to full humanity themselves. If the mother is at fault, why isn't it time to break the pattern by urging all these Sleeping Beauties to grow up and live their own lives? There never will be enough Prince Charmings or enough therapists to break that pattern now. It is society's job, and finally that of each woman alone. For it is not the strength of the mothers that is at fault but their weakness, their passive childlike dependency and immaturity that is mistaken for "femininity." Our society forces boys, insofar as it can, to grow up, to endure the pains of growth, to educate themselves to work, to move on. Why aren't girls forced to grow up - to achieve somehow the core of self that will end the unnecessary dilemma, the mistaken choice between femaleness and humanness that is implied in the feminine mystique?”
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
“It is perhaps beside the point to remark that bowling alleys and supermarkets have nursery facilities, while schools and colleges and scientific laboratories and government offices do not.”
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
“The feminists had destroyed the old image of woman, but they could not erase the hostility, the prejudice, the discrimination that still remained.”
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
“...women who 'adjust' as housewives, who grow up wanting to be 'just a housewife,' are in as much danger as the millions who walked to their own death in the concentration camps...they ate suffering a slow death of mind and spirit.”
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
“Who knows what women can be when they are finally free to become themselves? Who knows what women's intelligence will contribute when it can be nourished without denying love?”
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
“The feminist revolution had to be fought because women quite simply were stopped at a state of evolution far short of their human capacity.”
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
“The key to the trap is, of course, education. The feminine mystique has made higher education for women seem suspect, unnecessary and even dangerous. But I think that education, and only education, has saved, and can continue to save, American women from the greater dangers of the feminine mystique.”
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
“It is not possible to preserve one's identity by adjusting for any length of time to a frame of reference that is in itself destructive to it. It is very hard indeed for a human being to sustain such an 'inner' split - conforming outwardly to one reality, while trying to maintain inwardly the value it denies.”
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
“It is wrong to keep spelling out unnecessary choices that make women unconsciously resist either commitment or motherhood--and that hold back recognition of the needed social changes.”
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
“The man who is extremely and dangerously hungry has no other interest but food. Capacities not useful for the satisfying of hunger are pushed into the background. 'But what happens to man's desires when there is plenty of food and his belly in chronically filled? At once, other (and higher) needs emerge and these, rather than the psychological hungers, dominate the organism.”
Betty Friedan, Feminine Mystique
“The real joke that history played on American women is not the one that makes people snigger, with cheap Freudian sophistication, at the dead feminists. It is the joke that Freudian thought played on living women, twisting the memory of the feminists into the man-eating phantom of the feminine mystique, shriveling the very wish to be more than just a wife and mother.”
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
“When one begins to think about it, America depends rather heavily on women's passive dependence, their femininity. Femininity, if one still wants to call it that, makes American women a target and a victim of the sexual sell.”
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
“Why should anyone raise an eyebrow because a latter-day Einstein’s wife expects her husband to put aside that lifeless theory of relativity and help her with the work that is supposed to be the essence of life itself: diaper the baby and don’t forge to rinse the soiled diaper in the toilet paper before putting it in the diaper pail, and then wax the kitchen floor.”
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
“When she stopped conforming to the conventional picture of femininity, she finally began to enjoy being a woman.”
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
“The problem lay buried, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American women. It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning that women suffered in the middle of the twentieth century in the United States. Each suburban wife struggled wit it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffered Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night -she was afreaid to ask even of herself the silent question- "Is this all?”
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
“The insult, the real reflection on our culture's definition of the role of women, is that as a nation we only noticed something was wrong with women when we saw its effects on their sons.”
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
“The future homemaker trains for her role within the home, but the boy prepares for his by being given more independence outside the home, by his taking a “paper route” or a summer job. A provider will profit by independence, dominance, aggressiveness, competitiveness.8”
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
“A woman today who has no goal, no purpose, no ambition patterning her days into the future, making her stretch and grow beyond that small score of years in which her body can fill its biological function, is committing a kind of suicide.”
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
“it is an undeniable fact that, in organizing, petitioning, and speaking out to free the slaves, American women learned how to free themselves.”
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
“If a woman had a problem in the 1950's and 1960's, she knew that something must be wrong with her marriage, or with herself. Other women were satisfied with their lives, she thought. What kind of a woman was she if she did not feel this mysterious fulfillment waxing the kitchen floor? She was so ashamed to admit her dissatisfaction that she never know how many other women shared it.”
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
“Whenever, wherever in the world there has been an upsurge of human freedom, women have won a share of it for themselves. Sex did not fight the French Revolution, free the slaves in America, overthrow the Russian Czar, drive the British out of India; but when the idea of human freedom moves the minds of men, it also moves the minds of women. The cadences of the Seneca Falls Declaration came straight from the Declaration of Independence: When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one portion of the family of man to assume among the people of the earth a position different from that they have hitherto occupied. . . . We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal.”
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
“It is recognised now that Freud never gave proper attention, even in man, to growth of the ego or self: 'the impulse to master, control or come to self-fulfilling terms with the environment'. Analysts who have freed themselves from Freud's bias and joined other behavioural scientists in studying the human need, and that interference with it, in any dimension, is the source of psychic trouble. The sexual is only one dimension of the human potential. Freud saw women only in terms of their sexual relationship with men. But in all those women in whom he saw sexual problems, there must have been very severe problems of blocked growth, growth short of full human identity -- an immature, incomplete self. Society as it was then, by explicit denial of education and independence, prevented women from realising their full potential, or from attaining those interests and ideals that might stimulated their growth. Freud reported these deficiencies, but could only explain them as the toll of 'penis envy'. He saw that women who secretly hungered to be man's equal would not enjoy being his object; and in this, he seemed to be describing a fact. But when he dismissed woman's yearning for equality as 'penis envy', was he not merely stating his own view that woman could never really be man's equal, any more than she could wear his penis?”
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
“There is something less than fully human in those who have never known a commitment to an idea, who have never risked an exploration of the unknown, who have never attempted the kind of creativity of which men and women are potentially capable.”
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
“Woman's sexual problems are, in this sense, by-products of the suppression of her basic need to grow and fulfill her potentialities as a human being, potentialities which the mystique of feminine fulfillment ignores.”
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique

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