Chapter 9: The Sexual Sell

by Catherine on May 12, 2011 · 3 comments

    Being a wife and mother is all a conspiracy. A big conspiracy initiated by capitalist CEOs who need to make more money. So, what do they do when women start to work outside the home? Create a campaign that keeps women in the home so they buy more things. At least, this is what Betty Friedan argues in Chapter 9 of The Feminine Mystique. She kicks off the chapter with this:
"Why is it never said that the really crucial function, the really important role that women serve as housewives is to buy more things for the house . . .the perpetuation of housewifery, the growth of the feminine mystique, makes sense (and dollars) when one realizes that women are the chief customers of American business. Somehow, somewhere, someone must have figured out that women will buy more things if they are kept in the underused, nameless-yearning, energy-to-get-rid-of state of being housewives."
Later she notes that American wives are given a sense of "identity, purpose, creativity, the self-realization, even the sexual joy they lack - by the buying of things." Not sure about you, but I want to think the best of Friedan. That she was really wanting to help women. But really, she fails entirely. In this chapter particularly,  she insults the intellect of any woman who decided or decides to be a wife and mother. To remove herself from any kind of retribution for such an argument, Friedan ends the Chapter by moving into the role of a great protectorate, by saying that really, women who become wives and mothers are victims. Victims of the feminine mystique created by our culture. In the middle, however, Friedan does quote an ad that basically poses this question and one which I wish to pose to you, readers: When a child is talented with ambition or has high intellectual pursuits, and this child is a girl, will this rare gift be wasted if she becomes a housewife?

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Bob May 12, 2011 at 8:14 pm

“A big conspiracy initiated by capitalist CEOs who need to make more money.” Betty Friedan’s own words are they? If so, that’s an awfully Marxist thing to say.

“Not sure about you, but I want to think the best of Friedan.” Be sure about this; anything I had to say about Betty Friedan would be deleted from this website because it would be, shall we say, less than complimentary.


Ben May 12, 2011 at 11:27 pm

Destroy the capitalist pigs!

For the MOTHERland!

(warning reading this may cause a proletarian revolution)


Diana Smith May 13, 2011 at 11:02 am

Betty was really a conspiracy theorist—-we’d better change her label then….”Feminist” no longer applies!
Regarding your question; I’d like to speak from experience….I have 4 daughters and actually 5 sons, as well. No discrimination against one or the other “sex” here!! My 4 daughters are each gifted, that is each one of them has been blessed with certain talents, and strengths, unique to each individual. Two are married as of this writing, and in the context of marriage, both of these young wives (and already mothers) exercise their individual giftings; one is a writer and the other a musician. Their accomplishments have been recognized outside the realm of their own families, ie. in the public square. My as yet unmarried, mid-twenties daughter, is also a gifted opinion columnist–in addition to a full time job at a non-profit that defends our religious freedom. The youngest daughter–in high school–is a dancer whose gifts are being developed even now.
All 4 have, since girlhood, aspired to marriage FIRST, not last or after conquering the Mt. Everests of the corporate world. They are not weird! In fact, 99% of my mid-twenties daughter’s friends spend almost every waking moment yearning for their future husbands to find them–and these are well educated, aspiring attorneys, professors, public servants, doctors, nurses, etc., ad infinitum.
Really, Betty, you needed a real job….domestic engineer, aka, housewife, aka, wife
and mother….how sad….Betty was really green with envy of the contentment that her
peers enjoyed while her own soul searched for meaning….too, too, dreadful.


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