The Feminine Mystique and Today's Relevance

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The Current Relevance of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique When my mother was in college, she gave the eye-opening book “The Feminine Mystique” to my grandmother. In the 1963 Betty Friedan’s wrote the book that provoked a generation of women to explore, assess, and re-evaluate their feelings as women, and the respective roles they played in their family, community, and workplace. My mother loved the book; my grandmother hated it. The book shouted out to young educated women that they must build a dream career and follow their passions - go for it all and live a full, adult, self-actualized existence! But it grieved my grandmother. In one sense, her work was invalidated as a stay-at-home wife and mother, while in another sense, it resonated with her discontent. Today, at this 50 year anniversary mark, of the book’s original publishing ,women still wrestle with issues that Friedan broached in her writings and in particular “ The Feminine Mystique”. The struggle, as I see it, is not necessarily outside situational influences, even though we have a way to go in improving that. The struggle lies inside individual women themselves; those still influenced by a societal mindset that hasn’t caught up with this movement. I believe that the issues addressed by Friedan in her book, today, bring anxieties and frustration for a lot of women. The problems she revealed back then have merely taken on a different shape. Metaphorically speaking, it’s as though we have taken old problems contained in a vessel and repackaged the same problem in a different container- and we don’t even recognize it. Dissatisfaction with body image continues to be a problem today and in fact, it’s seeded a dangerous health epidemic among a very large population of women. Issues of respect and equal pay for women in the work place has improved, but unfortunately at a snail’s pace.
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