Feminine Mystique

ISBN-10: 0393934659
ISBN-13: 9780393934656
Edition: 50th 2013
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Description: The Feminine Mystique (1963) is a powerful critique of women’s roles in contemporary American society. Drawing on new scholarship in the social sciences, Betty Friedan attacked a wide range of institutions—among them women’s magazines, women’s  More...

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Book details

Edition: 50th
Copyright year: 2013
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company, Incorporated
Publication date: 12/21/2012
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 560
Size: 5.75" wide x 8.75" long x 1.25" tall
Weight: 1.430
Language: English

The Feminine Mystique (1963) is a powerful critique of women’s roles in contemporary American society. Drawing on new scholarship in the social sciences, Betty Friedan attacked a wide range of institutions—among them women’s magazines, women’s colleges, and advertisers—for promoting a one-dimensional image of women as happy housewives. This image, Friedan suggested, created a “feminine mystique,” a belief that “fulfillment as a woman had only one definition for American women after 1949—the housewife-mother.” The book soon became a national best seller, with over a million copies sold. This Norton Critical Edition of Friedan’s phenomenal book traces its cultural and historical significance over its first fifty years. The text of The Feminine Mystique is accompanied by an introduction and is fully annotated. Friedan’s book is the product of her early life as an activist, a student, and an intellectual while also drawing on her own experiences as a wife and mother. “Origins and Influences” includes writings that helped shape the author’s ideas about women and society. These works are topically organized: “Childhood World,” “Intellectual Influences,” “Domesticity and ‘Momism’ during the Cold War,” “Popular-Front Feminism,” “The Power of the Feminine Mystique on Betty Friedan?,” and finally, “Female Labor Force Participation Trends in the Twentieth Century.” Among the authors included are Robert S. and Helen Merrell Lynd, Friedrich Engels, Margaret Mead, Amram Scheinfeld, and Simone de Beauvoir. The 1960s was a time of great upheaval in America with sweeping changes throughout society including women’s rights, civil rights, peace movements, environmental movements, student activism, and the sexual revolution. It was also a time when a large group of American Jewish intellectuals, including Friedan, made comparisons between American life and Nazi destruction. “The Turn of the Sixties: Political, Intellectual, and Cultural Ferment” provides readers with an understanding of The Feminine Mystique’s contemporary context through relevant U.S. government documents and through the voices of, among others, Eleanor Roosevelt, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., Helen Gurley Brown, and Bruno Bettelheim. More impressive than even The Feminine Mystique’s best-seller status and the debate it sparked in the national press is its broader cultural significance. Hundreds of women wrote to Friedan about how the book affected them personally. “Impact” includes a selection of these letters from the Betty Friedan Papers, along with feminist writings from the second (Pauli Murray, Robin Morgan, Bella Abzug) and third (Rebecca Walker, Naomi Wolf, Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards) waves of feminism, and the backlash against the movement and The Feminine Mystique (Phyllis Schlafly). Analyses of Betty Friedan as a historian, the evolution of her ideas, and the legacy of The Feminine Mystique on its fiftieth anniversary are also included. Selections from Friedan scholars such as Daniel Horowitz, Joanne Meyerowitz, Ruth Rosen, Stephanie Coontz and others are excerpted in the section on “Scholarship”. A Chronology of Betty Friedan’s life and work and a Selected Bibliography are also included.

Betty Friedan (1921-2006) is hailed by historians as a seminal figure in the 'Second Wave' of the women's feminist movement. In 1957, Friedan wrote a questionnaire for her former classmates at a reunion at the all-female, Smith College. The results revealed that many women shared the same frustrations as her in their roles as housewives and mothers. Friedans findings provided a clear-eyed analysis of the issues that affected womens lives in the decades after the Second World War, and became the basis to her book, The Feminine Mystique. A sensation on publication selling over 3 million copies, it established Friedan as one of the chief architects of the womens liberation movement.A novelist and journalist, Lionel Shriver was born in North Carolina and educated at Columbia University in New York. Her eight published novels include New York Times bestseller The Post-Birthday World and international bestseller We Need to Talk About Kevin, for which she won the Orange Prize in 2005. Her ninth novel So Much for That will be published in 2010. She writes regularly for the Guardian, the Times, and The Daily Telegraph, and has published features, reviews, and columns in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, and the Economist, among many other publications. She lives in London.

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