The Role of a Woman – The Feminine Mystique

March 2, 2010 | NeW Staff

Last week, I wrote that the OSU chapter of NeW began reading The Feminine Mystique. I wanted to withhold my personal opinions of the first few chapters until I had the chance to discuss them with the other NeW ladies at our weekly meeting.

Our individual reactions to the first few chapters were surprisingly the same: Most of the points that Betty Friedan made were not out of line. Remember though, we have only read the first 3 chapters, and more importantly, this book was written in the 1950s, so we are looking back on a time we can never fully understand.

I will not go over all of them because I think everyone should read the book, but one point that Friedan wrote particularly appealed to our chapter:

“This is the real mystery: why did so many American women, with the ability and education to discover and create, go back home, to ‘look for something more’ in housework and rearing children?…It is a more than strange paradox that as all professions are finally open to women in America, ‘career woman’ has become a dirty word; that as higher education becomes available to any woman with the capacity for it, education for women has become so suspect that more and more drop out of high school and college to marry and have babies; that as so many roles in modern society become theirs for the taking, women so insistently confine themselves to one role.”

I think that Friedan makes a fascinating point that illustrates what I have been building on in my past few posts: Women should not be confined or forced into one role. Both sides (radical feminists especially) should not focus so much on what a woman does with her life, but focus on making sure she always has a right to choose a role or a choice to balance a set of roles. In my opinion, women can make these decisions on their own without society, men, or other women telling what they ought to do.

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