Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Betty Friedan – "The Problem That Has No Name" (The Feminine Mystique)- summary


Betty Friedan - The Problem That Has No Name - summary
part 1 - 2 - 3

The Feminine Mystique

I have a slight suspicion that the makers of the series "Mad Men" named the character of frustrated homemaker Betty Draper after second wave feminism champion Betty Friedan. Betty Friedan's 1963 The Feminine Mystique looks into the state of American women in the post WW2 period and provides insight into the feminine potential that was sacrificed for the sake of home and family. With the end of WW2 men returning home pushes women back into domestic space, "inventing", as Friedan puts it, the legitimate "occupation" of the homemaker. Friedan argues that post war America gave birth to the "feminine mystique" with "the problem that has no name". This mystique problem that has no name is the problem of the woman who returned home, took care of the house and children, but was still frustrated for not being able to fulfill herself. Betty Friedan's "The Problem That Has No Name" is a critical review of the transparent wires forced by oppression and exclusion on the suburban housewife.

Before proceeding to survey "The Problem That Has No Name" it is important to note that the feminine, according to Betty Friedan, is the ensemble of un-deciphered traits that propel the woman. Friedan claims that post war united-states shaped this perception of the feminine mystique in order to justify discrimination against women and their exclusion from the public sphere, this in order to reassert men's position in the conservative social order.

Betty Friedan's starting point for discussion in "The Problem That Has No Name" it that post war American culture was hard at work to create the ideal image of the suburban housewife. Media representation and women's magazines nurtures the image of the uneducated wife and mother which is content in her clean and taken care of house which is equipped with modern technological appliances. Developments such as early marriage, a large number of children and especially giving up on education all formed, according to Friedan, an ideal image of happiness. The woman was defined as having equal rights with her husband, and those rights were manifested in her freedom to choose home furniture, appliances and the family car. Self and home care were supposed to provide the right amount of happiness for the woman, especially if she dyed her hair blond. According to Friedan, the 15 years since the end of the Second World War shapes feminine mystique as the core of contemporary American culture. Women's dream was to be perfect wives and mothers. Their main efforts were directed at acquiring material goals and maintained them. Women in the sixties, according to Friedan, gave little attention to what was going on outside of their home and suburb, and proudly listed their new profession of "homemaker". The "other" women that did not comply with the spirit of the time were defined as neurotic.    



Betty Friedan - The Problem That Has No Name - summary
part 1 - 2 - 3

No comments:

Post a Comment