Chapter 14: A New Life Plan for Women

July 12, 2011 | Annemarie

In the 14th and final chapter, Betty Friedan explains the practical steps our society needs to take in order to free women from the feminine mystique:

She does not have to chose between marriage and career; that was the mistaken choice of the feminine mystique. In actual fact, it is not as difficult as the feminine mystique implies, to combine marriage and motherhood and even the kind of lifelong personal purpose that once was called ‘career.’ It merely takes a new life plan–in terms of one’s whole life as a woman.

As the reader, I agree with Freidan’s statement. If women want to pursue a gifting, talent or interest they should not be forced to abandon their responsibilities in the home. However, even in our accommodating society it still can be difficult to balance the responsibility and time demands of wife, mother, homemaker and personal interest or passion. Freidan’s suggestion is for women to work and only work outside the home:

It is not easy for a woman; if she is serious about her work she often must find some place away from home to do it, or risk becoming an ogre to her children in her impatient demands for privacy. Her attention is divided and her concentration interrupted, on the job and as a mother. A no-nonsense nine-to-five job, with a clear division between professional work and housework, requires much less discipline and is usually less lonely. Some of the stimulation and the new friendships that come from being part of the professional world can be lost by the woman who tries to fit her career into the physical confines of her housewife life.

Practically speaking, working outside the home would be a lot easier for a woman pursuing a career or serious personal interest alongside being a wife and mother. However, if a woman works outside the home in a full-time career she will need to use full-time childcare. This creates a problem. Many women today sacrifice the personal freedom gained by working outside the home in order to stay at home with their children and be the primary influence in their lives. According to Freidan, these women would still be suffering under the feminine mystique.

I disagree. I believe, with a little creativity and commitment women can find ways to pursue their passion whatever that may be, alongside being a stay-at-home mother. Of course, it won’t be easy. You may have to work part-time or just find ways to work during naps and bed-time. Nevertheless, the end result will be a fulfilled stay-at-home mother pursuing her life interests and dreams.


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