Publication of Betty Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique”

Betty Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique”

The publication of Betty Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique” on February 19, 1963, became a pivotal moment in the feminist movement, exposing the dissatisfaction and frustration of American housewives.

Betty Friedan, an American feminist writer and activist, surveyed her former college classmates at Smith College for their 15-year reunion in 1957. She discovered that many of these well-educated women were unhappy and unfulfilled in their roles as housewives and mothers. Intrigued by her findings, Friedan decided to delve deeper into the issue and interviewed numerous women across the United States.

In her book “The Feminine Mystique,” Friedan explored the widespread discontent among American women, coining the term “the problem that has no name” to describe their dissatisfaction. She argued that society had imposed a false and limiting image of femininity on women, expecting them to find fulfillment solely in their roles as wives and mothers. Friedan challenged this notion and encouraged women to pursue their interests, education, and careers outside of the home.

The book quickly became a bestseller and sparked a widespread debate on the role of women in society. It is often credited with inspiring the second wave of feminism, which led to significant social and political changes, such as the passage of Title IX in 1972, prohibiting sex discrimination in education, and the legalization of abortion in the United States with the landmark Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973. Betty Friedan went on to become a prominent figure in the feminist movement, co-founding the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966.