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The Feminine Mystique

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"If you’ve never read it, read it now." ―Arianna Huffington, O, The Oprah Magazine Landmark, groundbreaking, classic―these adjectives barely do justice to the pioneering vision and lasting impact of The Feminine Mystique . Published in 1963, it gave a pitch-perfect description of “the problem that has no name”: the insidious beliefs and institutions that undermined women’s confidence in their intellectual capabilities and kept them in the home. Writing in a time when the average woman first married in her teens and 60 percent of women students dropped out of college to marry, Betty Friedan captured the frustrations and thwarted ambitions of a generation and showed women how they could reclaim their lives. Part social chronicle, part manifesto, The Feminine Mystique is filled with fascinating anecdotes and interviews as well as insights that continue to inspire. This 50th–anniversary edition features an afterword by best-selling author Anna Quindlen as well as a new introduction by Gail Collins.

562 pages, Paperback

First published February 19, 1963

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About the author

Betty Friedan

39 books478 followers
American feminist Betty Naomi Friedan (née Bettye Naomi Goldstein) wrote The Feminine Mystique in 1963 and cofounded the National Organization for Women in 1966. This book started the "second wave" of feminism.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,973 reviews
Profile Image for El.
1,355 reviews503 followers
September 15, 2010
Ladies, the next time you decide you don't want to cook dinner that night, that you'd rather read a book instead... I want you to give a little fist-bump to the heavens in honor of Betty Friedan. It's because of her that you even have that opportunity to make that choice.

Let's clear something up right now - The Feminine Mystique is not a text on how to become a man-hating, radical, hairy-armpitted lesbian. If that's what you think this is about, my review isn't going to change your mind so you might as well just go shoot a ruffled grouse and make your woman cook it for you.

The Feminine Mystique does, however, bring attention and awareness to the mystique that is femininity - that women are good for use of their wombs and their cooking skills and maybe one or two other things, so long as those things benefit the husband (and maybe the children) more than anyone else. Friedan noticed that there was this "problem that could not be named" (and no, it's not Voldemort), this increase in fatigue in women across the country, this deadness about them that made them want to sneak a few drinks when the kids were off to school or to pop a couple Valium while they vacuum the house every couple of days. What Friedan wanted to bring attention to was that it didn't need to be that way. That women could be educated, and they did not have to get married right after high school, that they could have a career as well as a family, if they so desired.

Her thesis is that women stop growing after a certain point - for some women it's in grade school, for some women it's in high school. Even the women who went to college (keep in mind that this book was published in 1963 so her focus was primarily on the fifties in America) went just to hone their skills as a woman and to (hopefully) find a man. Once the ring went on the finger, the women went to the kitchens and pooped out a couple of rugrats, but then couldn't figure out why they were so depressed. Because they hadn't actually finished growing, silly! It makes perfect sense really - you're no good to anyone if you haven't evolved yourself.
The Vassar study showed that just as girls begin to feel the conflicts, the growing pains of identity, they stop growing. They more or less consciously stop their own growth to play the feminine rule. Or, to put in in another way, they evade further experiences conducive to growth.

(p 176-7)

I can't possibly summarize everything that is wonderful about this book, but strongly encourage everyone to read it - men as well as women because it's just important for you guys to understand why it is your lady friends may just burst into tears for no reason while they're cooking your chicken pot pie.

I read this while visiting my 82-year-old grandmother. She got married at 18, though she had essentially dropped out of high school prior to that because it didn't interest her. Marriage didn't really interest her either, but it was better to do that than to do more school or get a job. She was raised to fit the mold of the feminine mystique. My grandfather died five years ago and Grandma still hasn't changed anything she has done for the past 50-60 years. She still doesn't care about politics and wouldn't vote, she still asks me (year after year after year) when I'm getting married, when will I have babies, don't I cook much, how about gardening? The answers are always the same and her reaction is always the same. A bit of a chuckle and, "I don't know, you're a weird one!" We love each other just the same, but we certainly don't see eye-to-eye on a lot of issues.

Reading this during my visit with her opened my eyes up to a lot of her behaviors and inspired me to ask her questions I might not have otherwise, like did any of her girlfriends go on to college? (Answer: No.)

Interestingly enough Friedan discusses the correlation between higher education and the female orgasm. (And yes, it is strange segueing into that after discussing my grandmother, thanks for asking.) She suggests that a woman is more likely to have enjoyable sexual experiences (The Big O) the further they made it in their academic career - a woman with a graduate degree is more likely to obtain orgasm than a woman who stopped learning after grade school. I'm not sure why more colleges and universities haven't picked up on that one. "Get a degree - it's orgasmic!"

(I jest. Sorta.)

Seriously, read this. Have your mom read this. I feel like I know my own mother more now than I did before. I wrote 12 pages of notes in my Moleskine journal - some quotes, some of my own thoughts, some questions to ask my grandmother, some to ask my mother (when I'm brave enough). My review here can't even begin to do justice here. Why this book wasn't actual required reading when I went to college (at a historically woman's college that is even mentioned once in this book) is beyond me. Sure, it was highly recommended by the professors, and referenced more than once. I remember being tested on Betty Friedan and her accomplishments (the start of the second-wave of feminism, the creation of NOW, etc.), and I'm sure we read a snippet or two from the text but we never had to read the whole thing. And I don't understand why. And I also can't remember what we did have to read in its place. That's pathetic.
If women do not put forth, finally, that effort to become all that they have it in them to become, they will forfeit their own humanity. A woman today who has no goal, no purpose, no ambition patterning her days into the future, making her stretch and grow beyond that small score of years in which her body can fill its biological function, is committing a kind of suicide.

(p 336)
Profile Image for Jennie.
29 reviews7 followers
October 11, 2007
i don't think i've ever seen the word "beatnikery" in print before.....

i think the reason to read this book is to gain an understanding of feminism in the mid-century Zietgiest. It gave me some things to think about, despite being hopelessly outdated and terribly repetitive. i was particularly intrigued by the idea that manufacturers would want to keep women bored and at home in order to sell them more consumer goods. As a full-time "career woman" (in Ms. Friedan's parlance) i find i can still manage to spend obscene amounts of money on my home, clothes, shoes, car, entertainment, travel, etc. If there was a marketing conspiracy to keep women in the home, it doesn't seem to have been well-founded, but the suggestion has caused me to look around and consider some of the modern manupulations of women's roles as directed by commercial media.

i think the main obstacles preventing this book from passing as modern are (1) the overt disapproval of homosexuals or any kind of sexual deviance from the apple-pie-norm; (2) the radical generalizations Ms. Friedan makes about entire populations; and (3) the focus on white, middle and upper class women as though they were the only women around, or at least worth talking about. I got Friedan's message early on, and seriously considered not reading to the end, but i'm glad i did; kind of like climbing the mountain because it's there - gotta plant my flag at the top of Mount Mystique. It was interesting to me partially because i was reading my mother's dogeared copy from her college years (95 cents!) and i can imagine what the feminist movement meant to her, and what she was thinking about, even though i'm sure it differs radically from my view. Kind of a surreal bonding experience.

Profile Image for Lisa.
287 reviews7 followers
September 8, 2009
What struck me the most when I read this as a teenager (and this was the first of its genre I read) was how, in excruciatingly familiar detail, it described my mother. God rest her soul, I didn't appreciate it at the time and it didn't make me any less of a brat. Her life had been a life typical of many women that entered the workforce during WWII. Instead of marrying when the war ended, she stayed on and attained a position of prominence for a woman at that time. She married very late, at age 29, and overnight went from the life of an independent woman with a busy career in a big city, to a full-time small-city housewife. I believed then and I believe now that to succumb willingly to a life of, let's face it, servitude and domesticity, with a sudden, total loss of status can kill you. But now society throws many little bones to housewives, and actually makes them even think they can dictate public policy from the front seat of their minivans. It's a lie, now as then. Just spend a few days home sick on the couch. Watch "the View", "Dr. Phil", and "Oprah". And that's not even the dumb stuff.
678 reviews55 followers
March 31, 2022
I am grateful for all the things Betty Friedan did so that I was raised in a less sexist world. That being said, this book was pretty terrible because Friedan does not appeal to the reader’s rational brain but rather attempts to manipulate the reader emotionally by painting an overly dramatic portrait that pins Every Problem Ever on women staying home with the kids. Friedan has to resort to this style of emotional fluff because of her failure to research more thoroughly her subject which led to her failure to grasp the bigger picture. She needed to study the history of women's rights for two thousand years, not one hundred. She needed to study the history of family life for at least a thousand years to understand why women are home with the kids. Then she would have written a much more interesting book.

Social roles are fascinating. Playing the part of "woman" or "man" rather than being yourself, the human propensity for living an inauthentic life based around trying to be someone else's idea of good, is a common human problem, not a female one. But Friedan doesn't address the human problem of role playing, she just attacks one role played by one group of people in one short time period. And even in her time period men suffered from the exact same inauthentic, self-less existence that comes from playing a role--their role was "breadwinner." Their role demanded that they be "strong" and never cry. They couldn't like pink or cuddling. A role is a role. It's damaging to the human psyche because it is a role--what the role dictates doesn't matter that much.

Friedan's failure to examine the big picture is perhaps why she ends up arguing (rather stupidly) that all satisfaction in life comes from working outside the home. For sure one's productive work is a huge part of one's life satisfaction, but there is a big difference between the work people do that they are intrinsically motivated to do and find deeply satisfying and the work they do for their survival. Most people will never find a way to combine the two. Moreover, most people in most places in most of human history had to spend the majority of their time focused on their survival, and not soul-satisfying passion-work. That is life. To have milk (up until 100 years ago) you had to milk a cow every day twice a day 365 days a year. You think that isn't drudgery?! Until very recently there weren't a million jobs from which to chose, most people were going to farm or hunt or gather. Learning how to deal with the basic drudgery of survival was a major life-skill that everyone learned in childhood. And even in Friedan's time period, I can't imagine that most men's work was super intellectually stimulating, that all men just hopped out of bed in the morning excited to go do their jobs.

But moving on to what I think is actually more interesting.

If Friedan had done more research she may have also realized that even if all women worked outside the home SOMEONE has to take care of the kids. Friedan thinks it should be the government. She advocates state sponsored daycare. On moral grounds I cannot agree with that as that means I have a "right" to have as many babies as I want, and you are forced to pay for their babysitting whether you want to or not. Moreover, state-sponsored daycare means the government is raising all the kids--no thank you!

There is also the problem of health. To maximize the health of our children, they should be spaced 4-5 years apart and breastfed for 3-5 years each. Pumping milk is largely a lie as it will cause decreased milk supply and lead to a failure to produce enough milk. What this means is that daycare + women in the workforce = unhealthy kids. And unhealthy women as women are also less likely to get cancer if they breastfeed for longer. Only for a tiny amount of time in the history of the human race have babies been breast fed for only a few months. (In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Juliet nursed until 3!) Which is to say: It is not the "feminine mystique" that convinced me I should stay home with my children, it is reality. Because health is my highest value, I cannot choose otherwise but to "stay home" because that is the only option our society gives me.

And THAT is the problem.

Someone has to raise the kids + kids should be spaced 4-5 years apart + kids should be breastfed for 3-5 years DOES NOT HAVE TO MEAN women need to stay home with the kids for 5 to 20 years depending on how many kids they have.

If Friedan had looked back far enough, she would have noticed that in many places and times women did not have to stay home with the kids because the kids did not have to stay home. It wasn't until the Victorians decided that children needed to be removed from the world (so that they would never learn about sex, drinking, and gambling) that women got stuck in the house (because someone had to stay home to police the kids who had to stay home). Being stuck in the house SUCKS. For women AND FOR CHILDREN. The woman's role that Friedan has such a big problem with was a poor solution to the real problem--the removal of children from the world.

I have a great lecture about this on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQuMW...

The solution isn't daycare and school and women in the workforce. The solution is a change in the way we live and especially in the way we think about children--a society and workforce designed for people of all ages. Fascinating to me that we make so many laws to make buildings accommodating for the handicapped but never children. In many Latin American malls it is simply assumed children will be there--breakables are kept on high shelves and every store has a box of toys. How strange to think of a world in which children are actually considered! And welcomed!

The next step in women's liberation is actually children's liberation. Because until children are liberated from their roles as pets and slaves who need to spend all day being policed in schools, someone will have to do that policing. And that someone will have to be women if the woman values health.

Other notes:
-Her research led her to conclude that in the post-war period women got stupider. My research has shown me that ALL Americans got stupider, men too. Nutrition and physical degeneration could be to blame. But also our methods of schooling and parenting and also the mass media. The point is: I don't think it was just women that got stupider.
-Parenting is exhausting when done alone with no time off, not just when sexism is present
-It's crazy to me that Friedan thinks all the bored housewives *must* go back to school for intellectual stimulation. I find school programs so restrictive compared to the freedom of being able to study whatever grabs me! I get to chose my own reading list! And read for as long as I want on no one's schedule but mine! I have read a book a week since my son was born. I puzzle over huge philosophical issues all day while I am home. My husband was cracking up the other day because I gave him a lecture on how the current science of consciousness applies to epistemology while I was cleaning the fridge. He is jealous of all the reading I have time for that he does not have time for.

Check out The Myth of Male Power - it’s the man’s version of the feminine mystique! (Or check out my review of it :)
Profile Image for Terry.
Author 8 books30 followers
July 26, 2012
Reading this book is bittersweet for me. Every sentence, every paragraph, every chapter, I'm cheering Friedan on. At first, I kept thinking, "If only I'd read this when I was a teenager in the early 1970s, it would have saved me a lot of grief--the years I spent looking for men to save me, to give me an identity. If I'd read it back then, maybe I would have recognized the wretched inequalities in my world." The book so clearly depicts the ideals of my mother and of many women of her generation (born in the 1920s). And because of my mother's firm belief in the feminine mystique (woman born for man's purposes), I was trained by her to believe that this was the only way to be a women in the world.

Realistically, if I'd read TFM in my Southern Baptist youth, I'm sure I would have rebelled against it, finding those scriptures that remind women to keep silent.

This should be a must read for everyone, especially those who aren't clear on the history of equality for women, especially those who think the fight is over for equality.
Profile Image for Amirsaman.
417 reviews224 followers
July 23, 2017
📖 #پیشنهادکتاب

۱. خانم بتی فریدان در دهه‌ی شصت آمریکا متوجه چیزی شده بود. همه‌ی جهان دوست دارند مثل زنان آمریکایی باشند، در خانه‌های ویلایی قشنگ و زیرپا اتومبیل شیک و لباس‌ها و ریخت و پاش‌های زیاد. ولی چرا این زن آمریکایی خوش‌حال نیست؟ خانم فریدان می‌گوید آن‌ها صبح بچه‌ها را به مدرسه می‌رسانند و خانه را مرتب می‌کنند و وقتی همسرشان برمی‌گردد از کار، دم در او را می‌بوسند. ولی کم‌کم متوجه یک خلا در زندگی‌شان می‌شوند، نوعی ملال، که خانم فریدان اسمش را «مشکل بی‌نام» گذاشت. این‌جا یک پارادوکس مطرح است، این زنان زمانی رویای زندگی‌ فعلی را داشتند! او می‌گوید زنان در این دهه علی‌رغم تلاش‌های دهه‌های قبل برای تساوی حقوق مرد و زن، کم‌تر از مثلا دهه‌ی بیست به دانشگاه‌ می‌رفتند و درصد خیلی زیادی هم برای شوهرکردن کالج را ول می‌کردند. حتا در قدم اول اصلا دانشگاه می‌رفتند یا شغل‌های غیرحرفه‌ای متعددی را امتحان می‌کردند تا شوهر تور کنند و به قول او پی. اچ. تی. بگیرند!

۲. خانم فریدان که خودش هم سال‌ها برای مجلات زنان می‌نوشته، سپس یک بررسی جامعه‌شناسی می‌کند که ذکاوت علمی‌اش را برای من آشکار می‌کند. او نشان می‌دهد در یک دوره‌ی پانزده ساله که از اواخر دهه‌ی چهل شروع شد، مجلات که در ابتدا داستان‌هایی چاپ می‌کردند با موضوع استقلال زنان و رسیدن به اهدافی غیر از مادر بودن، به شدت سوق پیدا کردند به سمت تصویری که او «رازوری زنانه» می‌نامد. در این دوره مجلات زن را با مادر بودن و زنانگی داشتن تعریف می‌کردند. داستان‌هایی که نشان می‌دادند زنانی که بیرون از خانه کار می‌کنند سرخورده‌اند و زنانگی خود را از دست داده‌اند و در نتیجه زندگی ناموفقی دارند. زن خوب را زنی به تصویر می‌کشیدند که خنگ باشد و آرای شوهرش را نقد نکند. زنی که هدفش و زندگی‌اش شوهر و خانواده‌اش است و اساسا بدون این‌ها در زمره‌ی انسان طبقه‌بندی نمی‌شود. او یا همسر آقای وزیر است، یا مادر فلانی.
سردبیر مجلات پرتیراژ زنان معتقد بودند که مسائلی خارج از محیط خانه و آشپزخانه، مثل سیاست و هنر، برای زنان جذاب نیستند؛ و آمارهای روانشناسان هم این را تایید می‌کرد متاسفانه. نویسنده‌ی کتاب معتقد است خود این مجلات باعث چنین بی‌علاقگی‌ای در زنان شدند؛ زنان بعد از ازدواجشان دیگر کتاب نمی‌خوانند و مجله می‌خوانند، فلذا همین مجلات به زنان این‌طور القا کرده‌اند.
بتی فریدان می‌گوید مجلات زنان زندگی را خلاصه در به دنبال مردان رفتن و نداشتن عقایدی از خود کردند، اما چه عواملی باعث تقویت و نفوذ این عقاید سطحی در جامعه‌ی آمریکا شد؟ می‌گوید فهمیده است نویسندگان اغلب آن مطالبِ مشوقِ زنِ مستقل، زنان بوده‌اند، حال آن‌که اکثریت مطالب اخیر زنِ خوشبخت در خانه را، نویسندگان مرد نوشته‌اند.

۳. در مصاحبه‌هایی که با زنان انجام می‌دهد، متوجه می‌شود آن‌ها مثل خودش، از یک بحران هویت رنج می‌برند؛ بزرگ می‌شوند و به کالج می‌روند و ازدواج می‌کنند، و بعد؟ بعدش شوهر و بچه‌هایشان به آن‌ها هویت می‌دهند، هر سمتی که شوهر آن‌ها را هدایت کرد، تصوری برای بعدش ندارند. آن‌ها نمی‌خواهند مانند مادران خود - خانه‌دارانی ناراضی - باشند، پس زود ازدواج می‌کنند تا از از این سوال که در آینده چه می‌خواهند بکنند در زندگی‌شان طفره بروند. «حالا فقط دوست دارند محبوب باشند.»

۴. در فصل چهارم از تاریخ فمینیست و موج اول آن در نیمه‌ی قرن نوزده می‌گوید، زمانی که جنبش‌های الغای بردگی هم فعالیت می‌کردند و زن‌ها حالا می‌خواستند از «بردگی زن بودن» آزاد شوند. از لوسی استون و دیگران که عمرشان را وقف کسب حقوق برابر زن و مرد کردند؛ تا بتوانند درس بخوانند و حق رای داشته باشند و حق مالکیت اموال داشته باشند. می‌گوید حالا در میانه‌ی قرن بیستم دختران با آزادی به دنیا می‌آیند، اما فمینیست را به شکل هیولایی مردخوار می‌بینند. فریدان می‌گوید گزینه‌هایی که این آزادی پیش رویشان می‌گذارد این‌ها بودند؛ یا زنی فمنیست و مستقل باشید، طالب پیشرفت، بی‌عشق و تنها، و یا همسر و مادری مهربان که فرزندانش عاشقانه دوستش داشتند و شوهرش از او حمایت می‌کرد.

۵. خانم فریدان بعد با عدالت و علمیّت، بخشی از نظریات فروید را که زن را جنس پست‌تر از مرد می‌داند نقد می‌کند. مثلا به این نکته اشاره می‌کند که آرای فروید تحت تاثیر شرایط فرهنگی زمانه‌اش بودند. که زنان عصر ویکتوریایی محدودیت‌های فراوانی داشتند و حق داشتند که در خفا دوست داشته باشند مرد باشند تا آن فعالیت‌هایی که از آن‌ها منع شده باشند را انجام دهند و این ربطی به «حسرت ذکر» ندارد. می‌گوید بعد از فروید هم پیروانش گفتند زن منفعل است و مرد فاعل و این را قاطعانه کردند علم جدید، که زن اگر کارهای مردانه کند زنانگی‌اش کم می‌شود و این به ضرر افزایش نسل است. بعد هم در اواخر دهه‌ی چهل نظرات فروید به شدت رسوخ کرد در جامعه و این شد که زنان تحصیل‌کرده، خانه‌نشین شدند.

۶. زنان خانه‌دار چون کاری غیر از فرزندانشان نداشتند «زیادی مادرانگی» به خرج می‌دادند و بچه‌هایشان به آن‌ها وابسته می‌شدند و نابالغ می‌مانند؛ در مقایسه با فرزندان مادران شاغل، آن‌ها بیشتر دچار اختلالات روانی می‌شدند. پسران زنان خانه‌دار تا قبل از ازدواج نیازمند حمایت مادرِ سلطه‌طلب خود بودند و بعد از ازدواج هم همسرشان را به مثابه مادر برای خود می‌دیدند. برای دختران این مادران هم طبیعی است که بین دو مسیرِ ازدواج زودهنگام یا رفتن به دانشگاه و حرفه‌ای پیدا کردن، اولی را انتخاب کنند، چون راحت‌تر و تنبلانه‌تر است که با بیرون آمدن از حمایت مادر، به استقبالِ تحتِ حمایتِ شوهر بودن و خانه‌داری می‌روند.

۷. فروشندگان خدمات و لوازم خانگی تحقیقات گسترده‌ای انجام دادند تا از همان نوجوانی، دختران را به مراکز خرید بفرستند. خانم فریدان با مدارک قابل اعتنایی نشان می‌دهد آن‌ها برنامه‌ریزی کردند تا محصولات خانگی را پیچیده‌تر کنند؛ مثلا چند نوع تمیزکننده به زن‌های خانه‌دار عرضه کنند تا آن‌ها حس نکنند صرفا «عمله‌ای کم‌هوش» هستند. خود خانه‌داران هم دوست ندارند با جاروبرقی‌ای کار کنند که همه‌ی کارها را خودش انجام می‌دهد و زن کنترلی بر رویش ندارد؛ چرا که در این صورت زن خانه‌دار وقتش را چگونه بگذراند. فروشگاه‌های بزرگ و محصولات جدید به زنان این توهم را می‌دادند که دارند با دنیای مدرن بیرون از خانه ارتباط برقرار می‌کنند و کار منزل آن‌ها به اندازه‌ی حرفه‌ی شوهرانشان پیچیده و تخصصی است.

۸. تحقیقات نشان داده‌اند که زنان دارای شغل تمام‌وقت، کارهای خانه را در نصف زمان زنان صرفا خانه‌دار انجام می‌دهند. زنان صرفا خانه‌دار، کارهای خانه را کش می‌دهند تا از بیکاری فرار کنند، رفت و روب‌هایی می‌کنند که واقعا این میزان انجام دادنشان ضرورتی ندارد.

۹. خانم فریدان گاهی هم ضریب حساسیتش خیلی بالا می‌رود و چیزهای بی‌ربط یا کم‌ربطی را هم به مسئله‌ی زنان ربط می‌دهد. مثلا می‌گوید استقبال از فیلم شاهکار فلینی در آمریکا - ل دولچه ویتا - به‌خاطر این بود که زنان را آویزان مردان نشان داده بود. حال آن‌که اولا این‌طور نیست و ضمنا جایگاه این فیلم در تاریخ سینما به خاطر فاکتورهای دیگری است. یا مثلا فریدان می‌گوید چند سالی است که کتاب‌های با مضمون رابطه‌ی انسان‌ها و حیوانات پرفروش شده‌اند. این یعنی بزرگسالان کودک مانده‌اند (چون این نوع ادبیات مخصوص کودکان است!)، پس مادرانِ این بزرگسالان که خانه‌دار بوده‌اند آن‌قدر این‌ها را به خود وابسته کردند که بزرگسالان کودک مانده‌اند!
یا گاهی متناقض حرف می‌زند؛ می‌گوید پسران و دختران امروزی کسل شده‌اند و انگیزه و هدفی برای انجام هیچ‌کاری ندارند. بعدتر می‌گوید جامعه پسران را تشویق می‌کند تا در برابر سختی تاب بیاورند ولی دختران را نه. فریدان گویی آلرژی سکسیسم گرفته در جاهایی!
کتاب را یکی دو دهه بعد از جنگ جهانی دوم نوشته و از این جو استف��ده‌ی احساسی می‌کند و می‌گوید وضعیت زنان خانه‌دار آمریکایی مانند زندانیان اردوگاه‌های کار اجباری نازی‌هاست؛ آن‌ها بی‌اراده‌اند و کار واقعا مهمی هم برای انجام دادن ندارند.
قریب به اتفاق نتیجه‌گیری‌ها به این می‌رسند که مادر صرفا خانه‌دار، فشار روی فرزندانش می‌گذارد و نمی‌گذارد آن‌ها مستقل بار بیایند. خب اگر مادری اطلاعات خوبی از تربیت داشته باشد و فشار نیاورد، آیا بهتر از مادر شاغل عمل می‌کند؟ فریدان می‌گوید نه، چون مادر باید هدفی غیر از فرزند و خانواده هم داشته باشد و اگر این تنها هدفش باشد، ممکن است از خانواده‌اش به‌خاطر این‌که جلوی پیشرفت او را گرفته‌اند متنفر شود و سرانجامش ا��سردگی و حتا خودکشی شود.

۱۰. حرف و طلب اصلی کتاب این است که زن شاغل بهتر عمل می‌کند. حتا بیشتر امکان دارد که به ارضای جنسی دست یابد. می‌گوید دخترانِ مادرانِ شاغل (به عنوان کسی که در زندگی هدفی غیر از شوهر و خانه‌داری دارد)، کمتر در دانشگاه‌ها به دنبال مرد هستند و بیشتر بر هدف آموزشی خود تمرکز می‌کنند و عجله‌ای برای ازدواج ندارند.
Profile Image for Ushashi.
156 reviews79 followers
May 6, 2022
The Feminine Mystique is often credited for starting the second wave of feminism in the USA. The historical importance of this book is undeniable and this played a huge role in my decision to round up the 3.5 stars.

The history of feminism in USA and the world might have been quite different if Betty Friedan did not pick up her pen. To understand and research the 'feminine mystique' as she calls it which kept apparently 'happy' housewives unfulfilled throughout their lives was a major feat indeed. Even today it is not easy to speak up about an unpopular truth, especially if it is about any discrimination against a perceived privileged group. I can only imagine how difficult it might have been then. The research in this book is thorough. Friedan conducted interviews with housewives, college students, psychologists, educators, and many more to back up her theories and observations. She also mentioned many of the eminent psychologists' theories and statistical data in detail to explain the social phenomena. The very topic of this book is quite astounding. After the first generation of feminists fought for and achieved rights to vote, higher education, and jobs and proved their capabilities during the WWII when a large number of men left for war, it is hard to comprehend why they would willingly give up those opportunities to go back to being only housewives. But the way Friedan explained it with the social push towards 'feminine fulfillment' at the cost of having any career not only makes sense but is also infuriating. Multiple times throughout the book I stopped to think how this could be the social mindset in America of all places. Her examples of how it affected the physical and mental health of entire generations of women and their children are also very effective. Friedan makes strong points in favor of women needing to find some occupation outside of home not only for their own fulfillment but also for the greater benefit of family and society. I quite liked the last chapter where after discussing the social problems and reasons behind them, she tried to provide some solutions all the while accepting that it's a difficult task. Her own country might have significant progress in this tough journey in the last 50 years, but a large section of the world has a very long way to go when it comes to treating women as humans and equal to men.

Much like many other great works, this book is not without its limitations. Actually, there are quite a few. The writing became repetitive after the first few chapters and that made it hard to keep reading. Her idea about homosexuality is horribly outdated and inexcusable. The entire focus of the book was on the middle to upper-class white women, while a large section of the community is not even mentioned in the book. We don't get to know if or how the 'feminine mystique' affected the less privileged women for whom working was not a choice but a necessity, who might have been happy enough to leave that job and stay at home. While I completely agree with the idea that everyone should be given the opportunity to have a career of their choice, I do not believe a career is everyone's answer to fulfillment. Throughout the book, Friedan's mention of career has been limited to science, art, social work, etc which understandably provides a person with a sense of identity and purpose. But what about jobs that does not bring any joy to a person other than the paycheck at the end of the month? We all know they exist everywhere in abundance. What I found to be largely missing in her arguments for women being in the workforce is the financial freedom that comes with it. Reading this book might make one think that unless a career gives a woman a strong purpose in itself, it's not worth pursuing. If just getting paid is not good enough, then women who might not have the chance to do something meaningful, but a husband to earn enough shouldn't bother with getting a job. The effects of potential financial freedom are thoroughly missing from this text, and it has been shown time and again that financial insecurities are often the reason for housewives to stay in abusive or unhappy marriages. Also, in her quest of interviewing women who were not happy with their lives, her writing remained biased against the women who might truly be happy with being a housewife. Now that we are trying to normalize being a househusband as a valid choice, the idea that each and every housewife in the 60s were miserable doesn't sound plausible.

But flaws aside, this book should be read for its historical importance. And to understand how swiftly any progress on the front of equal rights can get reversed if not handled with care. In a time and day when women still face the question of career vs family, we just need to remember:

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.
Profile Image for Terri Lynn.
997 reviews
June 22, 2012
I was born in 1959 and when this came out originally in 1963, I was 4 years old. I went to school in Atlanta in the 1960's and 1970's. When I was in elementary school- grades 1-7- from fall of 1965 to June of 1972, I was struck by the differences between other women and my mother. For example, every single one of the other moms of the kids in my classes from 1st to 7th grade were housewives.

While those moms cooked, cleaned, raised kids, gossiped with each other, and volunteered to give class parties, my own mother worked. She and my father owned a bookstore and my mother worked full time. My dad was the only dad picking up his kid at my elementary school which fascinated the other mothers who came to pick up theirs. I had a nanny, a lovely black woman named Ruth who was a second mom to me and was herself a working mom.

My mother had a copy of this book and I remember talking to her about it when I was around 13. She had me read it and we discussed it, a practice we had enjoyed my whole life. Suddenly I understood why my mother made her career a priority and why she had so much self-respect and always seemed to me to be so much more smarter and sophisticated than the other moms. Betty Friedan had nailed it. The other kids had mothers who were dead inside. Dead. They had no vitality for life, no "I can't wait to get up for the new day" going on. All they could talk about was gossip, kids, cleaning, cooking, and the like. Such boring women had to be bored. How different they were from my mom and I knew that when I grew up, I would be just like my own mom. I had no desire to be one of the Stepford Wives.

I got to spend time with both parents and by the time I was 10, I was working with them in the bookstore. I learned to shelve books, run the cash register and wait on customers. I learned to do the business checking, inventory and accounting. Both of my parents wanted me to be prepared for a real life and encouraged me to earn the best grades.

This book goes a long way in explaining why. My mother was born in the 1920's. There was little opportunity for a small town girl to get a good education or start a career so once they were married, my parents moved to the city leaving behind mothers and sisters and sisters in law who were intellectual zombies.

Here's the most important thing for every female to understand- your hopes, dreams, goals, talents, education, and abilities are every bit as important as any man's including your husband's. You do not exist to sell your body to a man in marriage in exchange for room and board. You are more than a legalized hooker, cook, maid, babysitter, and errand girl. You are no one's doormat. You get one chance at life (there is NO life after death which is an absurd notion) and you have limited time to live it to its fullest. Your kids will not rot or die if you work, get a degree, own a business, and live your own life and not just reflect your dreams through them. Betty Friedan opens the door to the near past, a past a lot of women are trying to relive today. Don't you be one of them! This world needs your dreams, talents, skills, and creativity.
Profile Image for Jan-Maat.
1,548 reviews1,821 followers
November 10, 2021
A couple of years ago I saw the TV series "Mrs America", which was broadly about the women's movement and opposition towards it during the 1970s in the USA. One of the characters in it was Betty Frieden who had made a splash in the early 1960s with her book "The Feminine Mystique" but by the 70s was a figure straining to have her voice heard so when I saw it in the library, and taking into account my commitment that at least half my reading will be of female authors, I resolved to give it a go.

I felt it was an interesting piece of polemical writing, rather cool and dispassionate in tone despite it being grounded in her own frustrations as a post war sub-urban housewife. It is also a very specific piece of writing; it deals with higher class women or specifically those who had had at least some higher education by the early 60s in the USA, it's focus is internal - on the psychological or spiritual state of those women, towards the very end she mentions that bowling alleys have crèche facilities while government offices don't - but this observation is not expanded into a discussion of what we might call structural or institutional sexism. Even within that quite small cohort her focus is even tighter in that her sample groups that she questions or observes are invariably fairly small - in the low hundreds at most. I was generally unclear if her comments about the education provided in American colleges were specific to one institution or representative of several or all of those August bodies. This education was adapting itself by for instance offering courses in 'advanced cookery' intended as a replacement for science courses, a more suitable garnish in turning out a well risen woman, moulded to be an effective housewife in the early post-WWII USA than Chemistry or Physics.

What she observes and seeks to address is 'the problem which has no name' a grim malaise that sounds rather like depression, that she tells us is typical of the women this book is about - housewives, some years and a few children into marriage. This arises because of the mismatch between 'the feminine mystique' ie the ideology that housewifery and motherhood will be entirely fulfilling and the orgasmic peak of womanly experience, and the actual experiences of cleaning, cooking, and child minding. Typically women who suffer from this malaise end up being sent to psychiatrists and psychotherapists, because being a housewife is obviously the peak of human female attainment and no true woman could deny that, any person generally assumed to be a woman who does not whole heartedly embrace housewifely is by definition in need of professional psychiatric intervention. This to my pleasure reminded me of the situation in the latter years of the Soviet Union when one way of dealing with dissidents was to send them to mental health institutions because since the Soviet Union was the most perfect society on Earth, anyone dissenting from it must be crazy.

In terms of the long unfolding development of women's rights and developing roles, I was interested to note that for Frieden, in this book, Feminism was in the past. It was already something historical that she associated particularly with the struggle for the right to vote, by implication what she was discussing then had nothing to do with Feminism, at least for her, it was mostly an individual matter, though with some hopes for action by educational institutions and the government .

The twist to all this is her metaphor of the lives of the women she discusses as being like those of people imprisoned in a Nazi Concentration camp , at the end of that chapter Friedan attempts to tone down her own metaphor, which for all its extremity, was I feel, a mistake because essentially it seems to me the metaphor correctly captures the implicit message of her book which is that a group of US citizens feel that they are deprived of the rights of that citizenship for all their residency and presence. That metaphor then also provides the only response to her hope of Government intervention to support (suitably qualified) women back into the work place - persons who find themselves in concentration camps are not valued as full citizens by their Governments and hopes that said Governments might treat them as full citizens are misplaced.

Enlightenment for Friedan comes from the person of Abraham Maslow and his hierarchy of Needs . Maslow if you are a little familiar with him is hanging about throughout the book lurking in the spaces between paragraphs, but he is only mentioned by name from page 255 and from then on forcefully. For Friedan what she and women like her are suffering from is the impossibility of self-actualisation within the constraints of their society and in Maslowian terms if you are suffering from problems lower down in the hierarchy of needs then Friedan has got little to say to you.

Pleasingly, once we ignore Friedan's hope that the Government might intervene to help dissatisfied married women even as they assisted soldiers returning from WWII, suggested solutions hark back to De Tocqueville and his democracy in America obviously we can recognise the tendency to conformity that he observed but Friedan sees in his observation of the capacity for self organisation at the local level a way out too - suburban committee work in the arts or politics as an outlet and way to self actualisation however Friedan sees that Parkinson's law is a risk here, such work may not be intrinsically satisfying (can you achieve self actualisation if you are committee member #221b?) nor supportive of growth for the insecure.

Friedan does invoke a waste of talent argument but not so strongly developed, and perhaps much less so than it might have been in a book written a couple of years later when there was more of a panic that the Soviet Union might surpass the USA.

Interestingly the un-self-actualised US housewife of Friedan's era suffers from a precise architectural problem in her husband's ranch style house - she literally does not have a room of one's own. I am not sure if the architects of 50s and 60s US suburbia would acknowledge that they designed in inequality into their housing but it is all the same an interesting example of how, presumably unconscious, assumptions have concrete consequences.

there were a couple of weeks between me finishing the book, starting a review and completing it, there's plenty else that is curious about this book, her negativity about homosexuality is striking. At one moment she mentions mixed marriages and thought that maybe she was more radical than I supposed by by the end of the page it seemed from context that she meant marriages between Catholics and Protestants. Which in itself gives a flavour of how buttoned down the USA of the early 60s could be.
Profile Image for Miss Ravi.
Author 1 book992 followers
November 9, 2019

این کتاب درباره فمینیسم و یا راهی برای فمینیست شدن نیست. درباره زن خانه‌دار است و آن‌چه بهش مبتلا می‌شود. رنجی که توصیف‌اش اغلب برای هر زن خانه‌داری سخت است اما بتی فرید��ن بهش می‌گوید رازوری. اغلب زن‌های خانه‌دار خیلی زود درگیر رازوری زنانه می‌شوند. حس شدید رکود و رخوت، حس بی‌فایده بودن زندگی و تلف شدن عمر بی‌آن که بدانی چه کاری ازت برمی‌آید؟ زندانی شدن در نقش همسری و مادری و کنار گذاشتن استعدادها و توانایی‌های انسانی. خیلی از زن‌ها تمام عمر به این‌که بچه‌هایشان را بزرگ کنند، اکتفا می‌کنند اما آن حس رنج عمیق را همواره با خود حمل می‌کنند. زن‌هایی که نسبت به وضع‌شان آگاه‌ترند هم اغلب نمی‌دانند چطور شرایط‌شان را عوض کنند چون همسرانشان حاضر نمی‌شوند برای حل این مسئله همراهی‌شان کنند. جامعه هم حاضر نیست دردسرهای مادرهایی با بچه‌های کوچک را بپذیرد. بتی فریدان نه همسر شدن را منع می‌کند و نه مادر شدن را، اما از این‌که انسانی خودش را به این دو نقش محدود کند، شکایت می‌کند و پژوهش‌هایی ارائه می‌کند که نشان می‌دهد این وضعیت چقدر فراگیر است. شاید برای همین است که تعداد مادرهایی که بعد از بزرگ شدن بچه‌هایشان احساس قربانی بودن بهشان دست می‌دهد، اصلاً کم نیست. چون زنی که جز مادر بودن، هویتی ندارد بعد از بزرگ شدن بچه‌هایش با یک خلاء بزرگ مواجه می‌شود. باید برای آن زن سخت باشد که بعد از چند دهه زندگی، هنوز نداند که واقعاً چه کسی است؟ او حتماً از خودش می‌پرسد پس بقیه زندگی چه می‌شود؟ حالا باید چه کنم؟ وقتی جهان‌ات به اندازه‌ی آشپزخانه و یا خانه‌ات کوچک شود، قسمتی از خودت را که توانمند و مشتاق جستجو و کشف و آموختن است را از دست می‌دهی و تبدیل به موجودی می‌شوی گم‌گشته، جداافتاده و خالی.

Profile Image for Mariℓina.
622 reviews196 followers
October 17, 2015
The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan is an iconic book that relentlessly changed the way the American woman saw herself, until its first publication in 1963. Feministic in a good way, without the morbid extravaganza other reads of that type hold, it's relevant even now and if you don't choose to believe so, at least you can appreciate it as a historical document.

In my opinion the above statement holds more truth than any other quote about gender equality every did. Of course not all of her suggestions are correct, or well examined. Many of her points are dislodged to the extremity of becoming eerie representations of what it might have been at first as an idea. But no one can be so foolish as to ignore the masterful and underrated -until then- meaning behind every single testament, the choice.

The free choise. In few words the significance and value of the book lays completely in this little concept. This commanding, severe notion. For centuries -in different stages every era- the woman as an archetype had very particular "jobs" to do. Marrying, taking care of the house, raising as many children as the fate would give her -with no use for any contraceptive method- having the men in her life dictating every aspect and every decision and of course the "stay there and look pretty" utility. But only that. For the mainstream, everyday woman there was no freedom, no individuality, no aspiration. If you wanted to be something else, something not more but just different you didn't had the choice.

Friedan's whole point is this, it doesn't diminish the want of a woman to be a housewife and a mother, it just states the actual fact, that you can be all that and a thousand more things, or not. You can be a mother and a working woman, or you can be a mother, or you can be a working woman, period. You can be anything you want, so long it is your choice, not just an outdated inclination. Don't barricade yourself behind meaningless gender roles, labels or privileges, make choices.

Bottom line, the book is not perfect. It's repetitive, drawn out and maybe a little arid at points. BUT it was a fundamental lever of motion back in the sixties that ultimately led to the Second-wave Feminism movement and created the coalition with other movements such as the civil rights and the student's rights, that eventually changed the world, in so many aspects, with an amazing force.
It must be appreciated and cherished for helping to make the world a little better, a little brighter, a little less menial and tedious.


- I don't agree with her about homosexuality. I'm sure it was just a way of approaching the middle class, narrow minded women of the time and not entirely her beliefs.
- I believe that if you are a mother, you give to your child a piece of you, you will never get back and that is great if you make the choice to become a parent consciously. But if you only doing it in order to fulfil a stereotype you harm both your child and yourself.
- Equality will never be attained, not really in all forms.
- The media still play a devious part in society discrimination.
Profile Image for Jeanette (Ms. Feisty).
2,179 reviews1,909 followers
September 5, 2014
Have you ever read one of Richard Yates's novels such as Revolutionary Road and said "Gaaaawwwwwd, he's a great writer, but why'd he have to make it so depressing?"? The Feminine Mystique will show you that he was accurately portraying the despair and feeling of entrapment many married women were experiencing in post-WWII America.

4.5 stars
Hard to rate because it's often needlessly wordy and overlong in general, but her extensive research and groundbreaking (at the time) information warrant a high rating. A fascinating overview of American women throughout various periods of history.
August 9, 2022
This has been on my list for years, and I suppose I have been delaying my reading of it as I thought I would already know most of what will be said. It turns out that a lot of it I was already aware of, but, there were some really intriguing parts in here that I'd never really considered before.

First off, I'll thank Betty Frieden for having this book published and for having the bravery to do so. Thank you for giving women a voice.


This book is fairly heavy going, so it isn't one you'll do in one sitting. It is one you need to take your time with, appreciating each section. There is a small amount of repetitiveness, but for me, this wasn't an issue, as each chapter was new, interesting and fresh.

Frieden claims that she isn't laying into housewives here, but really, she actually is. She is, in a nutshell, telling women that being a doting wife and mother while mopping kitchen floors isn't what women were made to do. She is telling women to get out there, get that degree you've always wanted to do and grab that job of your dreams. On a personal level, she's right. There is definitely more to life than being in the kitchen all day cleaning, obeying one's spouse and cooking at one's beckon call. We were made to do more.

It was interesting reading about sexual intimacy and the female orgasm, because of course, even now, it may be wrongly assumed that it's only the male that needs a release, and females exist just for that release to happen and to give a child life. Well no, some of us actually enjoy sex and orgasms are pretty important to us.

If it wasn't for inspirational women like Frieden I probably wouldn't be where I am now, and I may have gone backwards, and not forwards. And yes, there are still problems. We still have males that are blatant misogynists, and are able to publicly slate women, but apparently get away with it due to their power and position. This will not falter us, and they will only make us fight harder.

This is an important book, with the strong message present that women can have it all, a marriage, children, and a successful career. It doesn't need to be one or the other.

"I think the energy locked up in those obsolete masculine and feminine roles is the social equivalent of the physical energy locked up in the realm of E = MC²-the force that unleashed the Holocaust of Hiroshima. I believe the locked-up sexual energies have helped to fuel, more than anyone realises, the terrible violence erupting in the nation and the world during these past ten years. If I am right, the sex role revolution will liberate these energies from the service of death and will make it really possible for me and women to make love, not war."

Profile Image for Bloodorange.
673 reviews191 followers
October 2, 2021
I read excerpts from The Feminine Mystique at university, and have wanted to read entire book for a few years now. While this book is still important and highlights the ways in which sociology, higher ed, economy - hell, even architecture - betrayed women, for every positive post-it note I found something problematic I would love to see addressed in a footnote or the foreword, which will probably never happen in my lifetime. Sorry for focusing on the bad and the ugly, but this book already has many good reviews and my qualms go beyond “I am a happy SAHM and strongly disagree” tone of many negative ones.

1) I love my job and returned to it with tires (metaphorically) screeching at the end of my maternity leave. But even I don’t believe women who can find satisfaction solely as housewives/ mothers don’t exist. Ms. Friedan did not manage to find a single one.

What is more, she keeps hearing about someone who reportedly is a fulfilled mother and housewife, and – time and time again –after an honest conversation, these mythical beings are reduced to tears, sobbing how much they envy working women. More importantly, I could not resist the impression that the author can interprets the same pursuit (say, community work) as either pathetic time-filler (if a woman is unsatisfied with her life) or a fantastic way of self-actualization (if a woman happens to be happy).

2) While I understand “the housewife syndrome” was a serious problem, the parallel Friedan chooses to illustrate the importance of self-actualization shows an utter lack of sense of proportions. Less than 20 years after the war, she uses death camps as a metaphor for American housewives' entrapment. To use an example of a female prisoner, formerly a dancer, about to be gassed, who is ordered to dance and kills the officer, because she finally remembers what it is to be a human being, as a reminder that dabbling in painting or writing can ward off depression? To essentially blame the inmates of death camps for having allowed the Nazis to suppress their personalities instead of turning against them? To smoothly move on to discuss female ability to orgasm?

Tellingly, Friedan's bio on Jewish Women's Archive webpage (jwa.org) contains the following excerpt:
Despite its popularity, [Feminine Mystique] caused her personal troubles. Her children were ostracized from car pools, and she and her husband were no longer invited to their friends’ dinner party circle.
(And this, I swear, are all the "personal troubles" listed). In other words - step aside, prisoners of Auschwitz, Dachau, Stutthof and Treblinka; this woman has a thing or two to teach us all about resilience in face of suffering.

3) This is not the only moment when the author fails to do her homework. She repeatedly (for nothing in the book is said only once) gives examples of Russia and Israel – highly centralized, highly politicized states – as countries where women, particularly working women, report much higher levels of happiness than in the U.S. The joys of working motherhood in Russia, where your kid would spend as long as entire work week in daycare, depending on your job? Where institutionalized brainwashing started at the pre-kindergarten level? Start by reading The Time of Women.

4) While I understand that this book, due to its subject matter, is extremely heteronormative, it must be said that Ms. Friedan has surprisingly macho views on homosexuality. She seems to associate male homosexuality – a result, for her, of pathological upbringing – with weakness and passivity, and compares it to smog spreading over America. In a nutshell: male homosexuality is yucky; female homosexuality doesn’t exist.

(Also, is the narrator of Breakfast at Tiffany’s really gay? I don’t remember anything to this effect, and yet Friedan chooses to share this piece of trivia with us – unsurprisingly - twice.)

5) The core message of this book: immaturity leads to depression; depression leads to weakness; and weakness is, again, yucky. One lost trait of American women Ms. Friedan repeatedly mourns is the frontier/ pioneer spirit. I have a crawling suspicion the picture this book paints of American suburban housewives might be a reverse of the author’s vision of herself. Such unsympathetic representation of weakness, immaturity, social irresponsibility of young Americans may only come from a woman who sees herself as mature, responsible, and productive.
Profile Image for Cassy.
37 reviews1 follower
March 9, 2017
Awful. Just awful. The moment you compare the lives of American middle class housewives to concentration camp inhabitants. I'm out.
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,460 reviews8,564 followers
April 24, 2016
Such a revolutionary work for its age. I feel thankful that Betty Friedan had the guts to publish this feminist manifesto and give voice to the dissatisfaction of so many women around her. Keep in mind The Feminine Mystique's publication date: now, it may seem obvious that women are so much more than placid housewives and subservient sex objects, but back in early twentieth century America, they still faced blatant sexism masked under messages about how to maintain a family. I still see these issues play out today, such as when my female friends and I worry about being "too emotional" or "not attractive/intelligent/interesting/etc." enough for a guy to text us back (both of these concerns = constructed by the patriarchy). Check out this cool quote on seeing through the feminine mystique:

"To face the problem is not to solve it. But once a woman faces it, as wmen are doing all over America without much help from the experts, once she asks herself 'What do I want to do?' she begins to find her own answers. Once she begins to see through the delusions of the feminine mystique - and realizes that neither her husband nor her children, nor the things in her house, nor sex, nor being like all the other women, can give her a self - she often finds the solution much easier than she anticipated."

Overall, my favorite message from The Feminine Mystique centers on not needing a man, boyfriend, or husband to feel complete. In essence, you have all the tools within you to complete yourself. In a society so bent on highlighting the merits of romantic love, I appreciate Friedan's focus on finding emotional fulfillment and creating satisfaction on one's own. I only take a star off because Friedan ignores intersectionality (i.e., acts as a white feminist) and trash talks gay people, which kinda hurt my feelings - and shows her ignorance. To end this review, one last quote I loved:

"When their mothers' fulfillment makes girls sure they want to be women, they will not have to 'beat themselves down' to be feminine; they can stretch and stretch until their own efforts will tell them who they are. They will not need the regard of a boy or man to feel alive. And when women do not need to live through their husbands and children, men will not fear the love and strength of a woman, nor need another's weakness to prove their own masculinity. They can finally see each other as they are. And this may be the next step in human evolution."
Profile Image for Yara Yu.
541 reviews445 followers
August 30, 2021
الحديث عن النسوية لا يكفيه مراجعة واحدة بل يحتاج مراجعات من أسطر عديدة لا تنتهي
لكن اي نسوية اتحدث عنها هل المتداولة الآن بأفكارها الخاطئة سواء من الفئة المهاجمة أو حتي المدافعة
النسوية التي تعتبر كلمة مهينة .. إذا أرادت إهانة امرأة فلتقل عنها أنها نسوية
المرأة النسوية الآن تري أنها كارهة للرجال راغبة في القيادة أو الحكم تريد المجتمع كله تحت سيطرتها ولكن هذا خاطئ
النسوية الحقيقية هي التي تنادي بحق المرأة واعتبارها كيان في المجتمع له حقوقه كما له واجباته
كائن يعطي الكثير ولا يمكن للمجتمع القيام من دونه
هي العاملة والدراسة والام والزوجة هي التي جمعت كل ذلك وحملت أعباءه
كائن انصافه هو حقه والاعتراف بوجوده وفضله
إنصاف المرأة واعطاءها حقوقها هو أيضا إنصاف للرجل وبالتالي إنصاف للمجتمع كله لأن الميزان لم يختل فالكل اخذ حقه وعمت المساواة

مقدمة طويلة كان لابد منها حتي اصل للكتاب
اختيار كتب الأدب النسوي ليس بالأمر السهل
فلا تقرا كتب النسوية ذات الأفكار الخاطئة التي تتدافع أو تهاجم ببلاهة فهي كتب تجارية بحتة كما أن الأفكار تختلف باختلاف الدين والعادات في المجتمع

وأمامنا كتاب اللغز الأنثوي وهو نتيجة استبيان قامت به فريدان علي حياة ربات البيوت من النساء
وذلك ما تدور عنه فكرة الكتاب الرئيسية وهي دور المرأة كربة منزل وزوجة لا يكفي المرأة نفسيا ولا يغنيها عن باقي أدوارها
أن تكوني ربة منزل هذا ليس مهين أبدا بل أنت امرأة قوية عليك عبء الأسرة والأطفال ولكن بالنسبة لي لا يجب الاكتفاء بذلك فالمرأة بحاجة للاعتراف بكيانها ووجودها وفعل ما تحبه تدرس وتعمل هذه من رغباتها التي يجب علي المجتمع احترامها وليس اهانتها لأن هذا ابسط حقوقها
كتاب دسم جدا يستحق القراءة بالفعل
Profile Image for Dennis.
363 reviews38 followers
February 20, 2015
I suppose that if I owned a bra, now I would burn it? Truth be told, the tone and even the message of this book were unexpectedly a tad bit tamer than I had presumed. That is, in building the bandwagon to rescue hordes of imagined "captive wives" still enthralled by that evil "mystique" that cannot be named, and its resultant suburban housewifery, Betty Friedan does not throw men and marriage under the bus, at least not directly.

The main idea here, of course, is that between 1945 and 1960 women of intelligence were brainwashed by the functionalists, psychologists, admen, and even by other exceptional women such as Margaret Mead, who nefariously opined that a woman's greatest fulfillment is in the home as a wife and a mother. But Betty could not disagree any more, and she goes so far as to compare the domestic life to a "comfortable concentration camp" much like those in Nazi Germany where imprisoned Jews were deprived of their beloved interests and skills and thereby their very humanity. Betty hits her theme over and over and over ad nauseum like a Greek Siren singing a song so sweet and alluring that her listeners forget everything else and die.

Betty insists that a woman can "have it all." She doesn't need to sacrifice husband and children for career, and in fact pursuing professional interests enhances life for everybody. No longer will children be dependent upon mothers for their care and attention, they will develop their own identities, find greater happiness, and even develop fewer neuroses, too. Yes, Betty cites example after example of children whose psyche and souls suffer terribly due to doting mothers who sacrificed their truer selves and were lost in the process. And of course, in Betty's research, among stay-at-home mothers are found higher rates of antidepressant usage, psychological treatment, and even suicide, especially for those with more than two children.

While portraying herself as a suburban housewife (albeit one who invokes the atrocities of Nazi Germany as a metaphor for her life) with de facto credibility to take on such issues, what Betty does not ever do is disclose the fact that she herself worked throughout her childrearing years as a journalist with known ties and sympathies to communist/socialist groups and causes. Her whole focus and agenda in those years were Marxist in their aims to dehumanize all women and men as "worker" appendages of the state. In the book she does cite to Russia and [socialist 1950s] Israel as model nations where women had left their children to the care of the state "without much noticeable effect," but for the most part she presents her ideas without direct confrontation to either capitalism or democracy.

Like other propaganda, Betty's research focuses almost exclusively on those examples that support her view. A large share of her research, in fact, comes from anecdotes found in magazine articles (Vogue, McCall's, Good Housekeeping), advertising campaigns, and interviews with like-minded sociologists and psychologists (Betty studied psychology at Smith and had her gripes with Freudian ideology, in particular). While she does interview some who have willingly chosen domestic life to a career outside the home, the examples Betty cites are universally aberrations who nevertheless possess underlying psychoses which the subject is either denying or of which she is less than fully aware. Enter Betty to help clarify and save the day.

Betty's message seems like it was primarily geared to the intellectual elite, those who might find their Maslowian "self-actualization" by hiring help and working for the praise and honor available through their selected professions. But the realities of this idealism in the greater scheme were not so pristine.

If there is a positive effect from Betty's campaign, it is that more opportunities have opened to women, and that those who choose the career path are duly given respect for the accomplishments they achieve in their chosen fields.

Unfortunately, this all-or-nothing view takes little to no consideration for the vast and numerous reasons that a host of other women chose then, and continue to choose, family as their top priority. Generations of women have recognized that their greatest contributions and fulfillment are within the walls of their own home. For men, also, no possible success can compensate for their failure there. Betty does a disservice to women and men who believe the relationships they nurture with spouses and children are their greatest possessions.

Sadly, time has borne out numerous downsides attributable to Betty's campaign, and a simple analysis of the numbers from the mid-1960s to the present reveals that marriages (including Betty's) have disintegrated, as have legions of families. Young women now subscribe to notions of creating identities so "independent" that they can no longer mesh flexibly within marriage and family relationships. And the reality is that many women are now forced to participate in the workplace and no longer have a choice about whether to do so. In fact, in recent years women are increasingly demonstrating that they want work-life balance. Many are choosing to forfeit careers altogether to be with their children (much to the chagrin of ardent feminists), but economic realities that have evolved due to "full participation in the workforce" have presented increasing obstacles to women having choices. Staying at home with children today is an option largely available only to privileged women, women who for the most part are still married (a number that continues to decrease).

Overall, Betty had some interesting ideas about women making choices for what their lives would be. And the book does not seem so far removed from the present, although society has indeed changed vastly and widely since The Feminine Mystique was published in 1963. Betty called for a fundamental restructuring of society, of marriage, religion, institutions, laws, abortion access, education, and so on. She got her wish. But her message in hindsight seems rather centrist in terms of the then-emerging women's movement -- that is, she still saw value in men and children (except for the unborn), and even distanced herself from the man-hating and "lesbianism-promoting" wings of the crusade. Obviously, this is an important book in terms of understanding the history of our country and the direction we have taken in departure from our more traditional ideals. The societal costs and benefits of outcomes from that offensive are still subject to ongoing debate.
44 reviews1 follower
August 25, 2008
required reading for feminists, i've been told. for me, it was helpful to read this in light of my recent life changes-- i think that the past failures of society towards women should be a learning opportunity for me.

that said, it is important to note that the book was written in 1963 and the "women" it seeks to represent are mostly white, mid- to upper-class, living in prosperous cities and suburbs in the northeast. it isn't an exhaustive cataloguing of ills! i consider it merely an expository tool to unveil what was happening among this subset of women at that time. no one knew, or had any way of understanding the malaise of most housewives of this era. and now we do!

of course no one should take her statistics and advice word-for-word as an effective gameplan for modern women. i am interested though, what friedan might think about the ills plaguing more recent generations.

is the feminine mystique just as potent today? has it been altered somehow? an interesting element of the book is her use of the word "sex" where most modern writers would use the word "gender." the connotations of "sex" over "gender" do really suggest that women were imprisoned by their biology. society told them to revel in their inherent femaleness, which friedan argues is "oversexed." fast forward 40 years in the future-- people are still arguing that women are "oversexed", but in a different way! these days, teenage girls are eager to dress up, to attain their ultimate sexuality. however, today's "ultimate sexuality"; is it tougher and more free than 1960s social mores? or is it just as limiting? an example of the former is quentin tarantino's "deathproof" where the stuntgirls avenge their femininity. counter that to... the recent batman movie, the black night. a stunning dearth of interesting or even heroic female roles. the only woman in the movie dies halfway through, AND her most important role in the film was to pick which of the main males she would grace with her hand in marriage. this reeks of feminine mystique.
Profile Image for anouk.
99 reviews53 followers
January 11, 2019
I am physically unable to give this book more than two stars. Perhaps it's unfair. Perhaps it deserves more, as it apparently inspired thousands of American women to live a better, more meaningful, life.
Yet, I am reading this book in 2018, and I can't help but see the flaws in Friedan's reasoning.
This book is far from nowadays intersectional feminism. Black women, who it is safe to say were living a much harder life than those middle-class suburbian white women, are scarcely mentionned. LGBTQ+ women are not only erased from her narrative, but Friedan makes a vile comment that leaves no doubts as to what she thinks of homosexuality, which she describes as "something that is spreading like a murky fog over the American scene". In her epilogue, she also notes that "some seemed to be using the women's movement to proselytize lesbianism". Two times she mentions the fact that the narrator of Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's is a homosexual, while the narrator clearly falls in love with Holly Golightly, so he is at least bisexual—thus did Friedman assume that because Truman Capote was a gay man, his characters must be too?
Another thing that I found truly innapropriate is the whole passage where she compares the life of the white middle-class suburbian housewife to the concentration camps. As much as I pity those depressed housewives, who really did not seem to lead a happy life, comparing their feeling of unachievement and unsatisfying sex life to the mass extermination of a people is truly despicable. In this passage she keeps repeating that it is the "strong" women who survive, confusing the strength of the mind and the strength of the body—although it is true they are sometimes linked, women who survived the camps were, most of the time, incredibly lucky. Comparing them with the women who sat at home while they were going through hell is almost insulting. Many, many strong women died in the camps.
Finally, to comment on the main subject of the book, which is the general misery of American women who are told that they must basically stay in the kitchen and take care of the children, Friedan argues that happiness can only be achieved through a career, through labour, which I think is an extremely capitalist way of thinking.
Profile Image for Sarah saied.
499 reviews80 followers
August 24, 2021
لو طلب مني اختيار كتاب واحد فقط ليتم تدريسه وتوزيعه بالمجان على طالبات السنة النهائية في كليتي، لاخترت بالتأكيد هذا الكتاب.

هناك كتب قراءتها لابد وأن تحدث فرقا جذريا بعد الاطلاع عليها، ربما ستخلق بداخلك صراعا، ربما ستبدأ بالاستخفاف والتقليل من شأن ما تعرضه من أفكار وما تثيره من تساؤلات، ولكنك حتما لن يمكنك تجاهل ما قرأته وأن تدير أذنا صمّاء لما سيعصف بداخلك بعد وأثناء القراءة.

حسنا..هذا الكتاب هو أحد هذه الكتب الفارقة.
كتاب يكشف الوجه القبيح لأسطورة الجميلات النائمات والأمير المنقذ.
كتاب واجب القراءة على كل امرأة واعية بالمعنى الحقيقي للأنوثة وواعية بأهمية دورها الاجتماعي.
Profile Image for Hajir Almahdi.
173 reviews138 followers
June 7, 2015
من انتِ؟ انا زوجة أحمد، أم فاطمة ... اوكي لكن من انتِ؟

احجية الانوثة
The Feminine Mystique، للكاتبة بيتِي فريدان يعتبر كتاب مهم و أيقوني ومن اكثر الكتب تأثيرًا ويعتبر شكل الموجة الثانية للحركة النسائية في مطلع الستينات في الولايات المتحدة الامريكية، ومن الكتب الي في نظري مفروض الناس كلها تقراها. شوفوا معايا لوّ انتي ربّة بيت و حايرة شن اديري الغدا كأنه سبب وجودك انا ننصحك تقريه. مشكلته الوحيدة غير متوفر باللغة العربية بس حنحاول نختصره توا؛ تفكير النساء في الولايات المتحدة كيف ما استنتجت من خلال قراءتي له في فترة الستينات مشابهة للعقلية الليبية ( في الموضوع هذا بس ) الكاتبة بيتِى فريدان لاحظت أن في مشكلة لكن مافيش حد عارف ولا يقدر يقول اسمها (مش ڤولديمورت في الحالة هذي) المشكلة هذي عبارة عن حالة فراغ أُصيبت بها ربات البيوت في الوقت هذكي، في بداية الكتاب تبدا بكلمة سيدة تقابلت معاها، قالتلها ” بدأت نحس في أني بدون شخصية، انا نطيب الوجبات، نظم الحوش، الشخص الي يكلموه بعد مايلقوش حاجة لكن انا من ؟ “ احجية الانوثة الي مرت بيها النساء في فترة هذكي سبب نوع من التناقض و انفصام الشخصية، يعني تحاول تكون رمز الانوثة الكامل و مع ذلك تبي حاجات نفس عمل و مستقبل مختلف. الامر قعد معضلة في وقت العالم فيه يتغير بسرعة و عوائق ربط النساء بصورة معينة مفروض انتهن يعني عندها القدرة اتعلم و تشتغل وتكون آي حاجة تبيها مع ذلك شريحة كبيرة اختارن يسيبن القرايا و يرضن بزواج فقط كأنه في عقولهن تم ربط صورة المرأة العاملة او المرأة المستقلة بصورة وحدة معدومة الانوثة، ليش مازال في وحدات مصممات أن يتناسن حقيقة أنها شخص عنده طموح و يبي حرية واستقلال كيفه كيف اي انسان و تعرف روحها بأنها "مرأة" بس و تنسى انها انسان كيف اي انسان اخر عندها رغبة توجد لروحها وتكون اكثر من مجرد زوجة تقدر تقدم للمجتمع كيف اي رجل. احجية الانوثة قوية لدرجة أن النساء هذينا معش عرفن اي حاجة ممكن يحسن انها مافيهش انوثة. شنو الي يعطي في الأحجية هذا القوة متاعها؟ ليش النساء ردن للحوش ؟ في الوقت هذا الولايات المتحدة كانت محتاجة كل العقول عشان الحرب الباردة مع الاتحاد السوڤيتي الي مشى في اول رحلاته للفضاء لذلك كانت الولايات المتحدة محتاجة فيه لنص المتجمع الاخر و عقولهن، كيف ما الاتحاد السوڤيتي كان داير. اصعب سؤال كان يواجهن انتي شن تبي اديري في حياتك؟ صورة المرأة الشخصية لروحها و طموحها و رغباتها اندثرت و تم استبدالها بصورة جماعية خاصة بفكر المجتمع ككل و أنهت اي نوع من الشخصية الفردية او تنوع الفكري لذلك توجه وحدات لاختيار الصورة او الفكرة الجماعة و هي بانها تتزوج لأن بعدها زوجها حيفكر في كل الاجوبة وتبعًا يقرر مصيرها وهي تريح راسها وشبه حينتهي شخصها تطورها حيوقف هنا. لوّ انهن يعرفن أن الخوف من المستقبل و تساؤلك شن حديري في حياتك هذا جزء من النضوج الي للاسف حقهن فيه بنسلب بمجرد ما تخاف من سؤال شن نبي ندير في حياتي وتقرر تتزوج كاسرع حل لأن فكرة الزواج يتم عرضها بطريقة رومانسية غير واقعية، يتزوجن يتوقعن حاجة ويلقن حاجة اخرى مكانها. اكثر من كانن يعانن من الفراغ هذا البنات الي تزوجن بدري، والسبب بسيط جدًا، لانهن يستقرن في دورهن الفيسيولوجي بدون نضوج و معرفة تامة لهويتهن الشخصية، روحهن الحاجة الي تخليهن انسان . نظرية فريدان تقول أن المشكلة مشكلة هوية و هي أن المرأة من وقت ولادتها إلى يوم مماتها يفهموها أن هي رقيقة؛ قابلة للكسر محتاجة اهتمام لأنها ماتقدرش تعيش بنفسها ولنفسها، وإنما تعيش بالرجل وللرجل، وهي في حاجته في كل شأن من شئونها، لازم تكون تحت حمايته و ماتفكرش إلا بعقله، ولا تشوفش إلا بعينه؛ ولا تسمع إلا بإذنه، ولا تريد إلا بإرادته ولا تعمل إلا بواسطته، تلقاها تتبنى نظرته في جميع امور الحياة، سياسة تربية دين حقيقة علمية مثبتة الي هو يعني ماتحركش بحركة إلا ويكون مجراها منه. فهي هكي لا تعد إنسانا مستقلا بل هي شيء ملحق بالرجل، وهذي هي المشكلة الي مافيش حد لقالها اسم. الحاجة الاخرى أن النساء مايتخيلنش في روحهن في سن بعد ٢١ سنة كأنها تموت عقليا عند السن هذي. فريدان تحاول تقولك أن مش مفروض تستعجلي وتتزوجي بعد الاعدادي أو الثانوي أو الجامعة، تقول في اجزاء ان من المؤسف أن نقارن بالجيل الي قبل هذا وكيف كان التعليم و المطالبة بحقوقهن و العمل و و مهم عندهن و انعدم في الوقت هذا الى زوج بدون تكوين هوية مستقلة او يكون عندك اي طموح، خوذي وقتك و كوّني شخصك المستقل ابني شخصيتك و اعرفي روحك الاول و أن مش لازم تختاري بين مسيرة مهنية و العائلة تقدري يقعد عندك الأثنين. فرضيتها كانت أن في نساء يوقفن عن النمو الفكري في مرحلة معينة، في الي يوقفن بعد الاعدادي او الثانوي وفي بعد الجامعة جزء من فرضيتها يقول أن في عدد كبير يعدن لجامعة عشان سببين بس، شهادة عشان تدلع بها على الناس و تلقى زوج مستقبلي وتقعد طول حياتها محصورة في انها زوجة و أم فقط. فريدان فسرت الأكتئاب هذا على أن توقف نمو، نوع من الفراغ الوجودي و شعور بعدم القيمة مقنع صح؟ اي وحدة تتزوج تمشي للمطبخ دغري و تجيب كم عيل وخلاص هي من بدون زوجها و عيالها ؟ ماتعرفش، ممكن حتى مافيش شخص أصلا لأنك بصراحة بلا فايدة لاي حد اذا ماطورتيش شخصك المستقل و طبعا المشكلة هذي حلها مش انك تجيبي طفل اخر تلهي فيه لأن كيف ما لاحظت البنات يبدن يحسن بصعوبة التطور و النمو العقلي في مجتمع يربط في الأنوثة بأنها صفة البنت الي ديما محتاجة حد يساعدها و ينقذها لذلك يبدن يلعبن في دور الانوثة عن طريق تضييع فرص واجد لتطور و بناء الشخصية عشان تكمل التعريف و تلعب الدور الي حطها لها المجتمع. ناقشت نوعية المجلات و الصورة الي تنقل فيها عن "المرأة المثالية" الي مافيش حاجة تنمو في حياتها غير اطفالها و تطورها الوحيد محصور في استخدام المايكرو وايڤ و اطلاعها على اخر صيحات الموضة و المكياج و نوعية الادب الي يكتب في نفس الوقت و الشخصيات الي فيه كلهن يرسخن في صورة "المرأة المثالية" هي أم و زوجة وبس، نقدت الصورة الي يحاولوا يحصروا فيها المرأة بطريقة متقنة، الزبدة متاع بيتِى أن ترضي تكوني حاجة اقل من ماتسمحلك مؤهلاتك و قدراتك العقلية و تقعدي بدون طموح اولاً هي اكثر حاجة حتعيق نموك العقلي ثانيا هو اسهل طريق لكِ نحو الأكتئاب. كتاب نفسي و نظرية مذهلة و بطريقة ساخرة يوصف شويا في مجتمعنا الليبي، مشكلته الوحيدة مش مترجم الى حد الان للعربي، حاولت نعطيكم المختصر المفيد لكن مع ذلك مش نفس لما تقراه بروحك و تخلي بيتى تقنعك بنظريتها، الي فيها كمية واقعية مذهلة لاسباب انها الكاتبة تخلت عن حلمها في دراسة علم النفس و هي صغيرة عشان تتزوج و فعلا تزوجت و قعدت ربّة بيت و جابت ع��ال و عاشت صورة الانوثة المطلقة وبعدها عانت من الفراغ و الاكتئاب هذا يعني عاشت خلاله و فهمت المشكلة صح و وكتبت النظرية الاخاذة و اكتشفت انها تبي اكثر من هكي وهذا في نظري خلاها ��حكي على الموضوع بواقعية صارخة . هي فهمت أن الزوج و العيال مش شخصيتك . الكتاب مهم لاي مرأة و رجل على حد السواء، اتمنى من كل قلبي ان توفرله ترجمة للعربية لأنه مهم و اساسي للمجتمع العربي بصفة عامة.

ملاحظة : استخدامي للعامية لأن الريڤيو مخصصة للمدونتي ومشروعي المهتم بقضايا وحقوق المرأة، يمكنك الاطلاع على المزيد هنا: http://wp.me/p5qniW-c9
Profile Image for Dana.
114 reviews34 followers
July 14, 2015
Review time.
Disclaimer. Had this books been written within the last 20 years I would have given it 1 star. But it's not. It was written almost 50 years ago.

Is this book an important read for a feminist? Yes. Hell yes. Why?

1- This book is relevant. The book discussed a problem that plagues women (granted a specific woman of a certain ethnicity, income, level of education and social status) when they abandon all pursuits and take on occupation: housewife.
In that sense it reads almost like a dystopian novel. It's honestly enjoyable that way.
This is an important book because it was in a sense the first to point out the "wrong choice" many woman seemed to be making by abandoning all forms of intellectual pursuits and becoming nurturers to the masses. Like a lot of feminist texts, a lot of it holds true to this day even though there were so many advances. I think this book is also important to show that when women stop fighting for rights, equality, knowledge and purpose, they die internally.
Maybe this isn't as big an issue as it was in the states nowadays, but it's still a big deal in the rest of the world, this stifling of human potential as a way of fully fulfilling some sort of "femininity" a thing the rest of us non-Americans/"third worlders" are still fighting.

2- Somehow this books affects how you view many other books. The mystique will present itself in subtle ways in many texts written in the fifties and the sixties and thus it is a text that resonates. You'll find yourself thinking of it while reading Yeats and Atwood and I think that's amazing.

3- This problem is quite real. The book is divided into chapters which discuss first why this has happened and its consequences and finally a solution.
I think the problem is real enough to merit Friedan plunging the way she did with this book into attempting to understand and dissect what it was that had women of the time dropping everything and going home to live a life that in all honestly resembles that of a nurturing domestic animal only to reach a point where there is nothing left to do but fall apart and have some sort of crisis of character ie the problem with no name ie the Feminine Mystique.

Problems with this books:
1- The research is thorough, the problem is viewed from many angles. But I can't help but get a feeling that it isn't as representative as I would like it to be. She uses interviews a lot and though they are useful they are not very representative of the overall feeling these women experience on a daily basis.
I don't know if this was an issue of the fact that this was published in the sixties but I would have liked a more statistical interpretation of the numbers she was giving us (I have no background in social statistics don't judge me)
At no point in this book are you allowed to feel like the problem speaks for itself but you are always under the impression that Friedan is telling you about the problem. You can tell she takes this very personally which is a good thing but a bad thing as well.

2- The author does not hide the fact that this problem affects a very specific woman. A white, well off, middle to high class American woman. There is zero mention of any other American women in this book. You're almost made to feel that this is the entirety of women in the states, which it obviously isn't. It's upsetting that Friedan made no attempt to study the African American population particularly. Heads up, this is classist and racist as fuck. Omg yes it is.

3- Friedan (like everyone of her time) has very very dated views on male homosexuality (female homosexuality makes no appearance in this book and you're forced to assume everyone is straight). She obviously thinks male homosexuality is on the rise as a result of the problem. Ie these men are running away from their hypersexualized extremely nurturing infant mothers/wives to the arms of other men (gasp!). That's not that annoying to me, presumptuous, yes but considering the times it may have been acceptable to assume thus far. What's annoying as fuck is that she discusses homosexuality based on Freudian psychology when, 5 chapters before, she'd dismissed the whole of Freud's views. She basically destroys his views on women, "penis envy" and his attributing the fact that dysfunctional children are due to bad mothers. She even shits on his relationship with his wife.
It just seems stupid to me that she'd spit on his views on woman but not his views on homosexuality. I mean if you're going to discredit him, at least discredit all of him. I hate this not only for it's rampant homophobia but also because in some ways she contradicts herself.
Profile Image for Charles Haywood.
497 reviews725 followers
December 28, 2020
In their eternal quest to remake reality, a perennial target of the Left is the family: man, woman, and children, the bedrock of all human societies. The family, by its existence and by what it brings forth, mocks the Left project, and so the Left has tried to destroy it for 250 years. But only in the twentieth century did this effort gain real traction, when our elites became converts to the fantasy that sex roles as they existed were artefacts of oppression, not organic reality. What followed was mass indoctrination in falsehoods about men and women, in which this infamous book played a key role. If you see a sad wine aunt (they are all sad), and you see them everywhere, you see a small part of the resulting social wreckage.

The Feminine Mystique was chosen in the 1960s, the decade that really began our decline, as the central pillar of the enormously destructive myth that a woman can “have it all”—both a fully-realized family in the home and a fully-realized career outside the home. Many elements of our present ruin can be traced back to this propaganda. The myth itself is duplicitous, however. For its purveyors, a woman’s career is far more important than the family—lip service is only paid to the family because women keep stubbornly insisting they want a family. To their great frustration, this is a problem our rulers have been unable to solve, causing them to resort to ever more extreme and ultimately self-defeating falsehoods about men and women. It would be funny if it had not been so catastrophic.

I could spend hours amusing myself blowing holes in this execrable book, but I have sworn off reviewing books merely to show how they are wrong. Therefore, we will instead use this book to discuss some of the defects in societal structures in America today as they relate to men and women, and how those structures should be remade. A sneak peek: men and women are very different. They always have been, and they always will be. And from a societal structure perspective, the crucial truth is that men drive a society forward, while women bind a society together. So it will always be in any successful society, and any society that attempts to contradict truth will only find its own obliteration.

But you will be disappointed, I am sure, if I do not at least summarize this book, and doing so is helpful to frame discussion about recapturing our future. It’s not easy—a reader has to excavate in layers, removing all the primitive psychobabble and 1950s ephemera. Moreover, he must reconcile himself that there are no hard facts in this book with which to grapple. None. It is purely a series of cherry-picked anecdotes, presented in a pseudo-scientific manner in order to compel conclusions the author, Betty Friedan, had already reached about society.

She was born into and raised in a far-left family, and from her earliest youth to her death in 2006 worked unceasingly to impose on our society all her radical politics. Agitation was her life. In 1957 Friedan, bored with her part-time job writing for the radical press and unhappy with her marriage to an advertising executive, sent an amateurish questionnaire to her classmates from her 1942 graduating class at Smith College (an all-women’s college still extant). The survey has thirty-eight questions, all yes-no or multiple choice. None are surprising or all that interesting, and the survey is loaded: the desired responses are indicated by the choice of questions and by using guiding adjectives (e.g., “Is your marriage truly satisfying?”, meaning that unless it is truly satisfying, the only possible answer is “no”). Friedan claims that the responses surprised her, so she then conducted interviews with eighty women. Upon the supposed results of these interviews a book claiming to show a new understanding of all of American society is built.

What, then, is the “feminine mystique”? It is the “strange discrepancy between the reality of our lives as women and the image to which we were trying to conform.” “Our” and “we” here mean a small set of women very similarly situated to Friedan, but in a neat sleight of hand, Friedan manages to pretend that “our” and “we” is all American women, or at least all educated, married, upper-middle class American women. (Working-class women receive a grand total of zero words in this book, other than a suggestion career women hire cleaning women. LGBTQQIP2SAA people get more attention, at least—in the form of Friedan’s complaint that bored women without careers turn their sons into homosexuals.) According to Friedan’s “data,” women are “unsatisfied,” even though they objectively had gotten everything they wanted. They have “a hunger that food cannot fill.” They all say “I want something more than my husband and my children and my home.” The “mystique” is the supposedly-false belief that they don’t have a hunger, that they don’t want something more, but are instead very happy, or at least satisfied, with traditional sex roles, the “image to which we were trying to conform.”

OK, then, what do women actually want, if it’s not family and home? Well, Friedan meanders a lot, but basically she tells us women want self-fulfillment through “the life of the mind and spirit.” So do we all, I suppose, but to Friedan, this means a job, any full-time job, outside the home—nothing more. A housewife, that is, a woman who raises children, has a sound marriage, and acts feminine, but does not work full-time outside the home, is a sad and contemptible person in Friedan’s eyes. In an early instance of the scientism that has, during the Wuhan Plague, swallowed the world, Friedan lectures us that “In [the] new psychological thinking . . . it is not enough for an individual to be loved and accepted by others, to be ‘adjusted’ to his culture. He must take his existence seriously enough to make his own commitment to life, and to the future; he forfeits his existence by failing to fulfill his entire being.” This piece of infantile babbling is illustrative of the entire book.

Friedan faces a problem in selling this story, though, which she grudgingly admits—all other contemporaneous surveys showed that what women actually want is to be a housewife. This makes Friedan angry. She is greatly offended that at a time when more and more women are getting college degrees, an ever-higher percentage of women show no interest in a career. But there is an easy answer! They are not lying; they have been tricked. They have been bamboozled by women’s magazines written by men, which exist to sell them products they will only buy if they are kept in the home, just like Adolf Hitler did, you know. If these poor, deluded women could only be objective, they would all know they suffer “terrible boredom,” which can only be cured by working outside the home. Without a career, you see, a woman can have no identity at all; she is “barred from the freedom of human existence and a voice in human destiny.” She’s also “doomed to be castrative to her husband and sons” (a clear instance of projection by Friedan, who was nothing if not that to her own husband and sons). But good news! Friedan has uncovered the truth that has escaped us all.

The rest of the book, 500 sophomoric, tedious pages in all, is terrible. Repetitive anecdotes interspersed with bad history; cut-rate Freudian analysis (Friedan can’t get enough Freud) that no doubt seemed very daring at the time; praise for the ludicrous and discredited Margaret Mead’s fantastical lies about sex relations in primitive cultures; claims that colleges are failing women because women don’t choose the same subjects as men; demands for population restriction; psychological drivel about nuclear weapons; praise for the silly Dr. Spock; comparing the position of American housewives to that of inmates in Nazi death camps; endless pushing the idea that women are kept in the home so they will buy things (ignoring that they can buy a lot more things if they work outside the home); lecturing the reader that women forced to be housewives “offer themselves [sexually] eagerly to strangers and neighbors” because they’re so bored; and numerous variations on the claim that any woman without a career is infantile and prone to “severe pathologies, both physiological and emotional.” All this is gloriously evidence-free; Friedan’s usual technique is to make a sweeping statement, quote from an (always anonymous) “expert” supporting her, and blare triumphant conclusions.

The author’s contempt for children permeates the book. The only thing worse than a woman who wants to stay home and make her and her husband a happy home is one who wants to add children to her living nightmare, which only seems like a dream to her because she can’t see as clearly as Friedan. She herself threw over her family, including three children. In an Epilogue, written in 1970, Friedan crows about how wonderful the reception to her book was. As a result, she “finally found the courage to get a divorce,” from which she concludes that “I think the next great issue for the women’s movement is basic reform of marriage and divorce” (the wreckage of which we can see all around us today). She herself has moved into “an airy, magic New York tower, with open sky and river and bridges to the future all around.” She has “started a weekend commune of grownups for whom marriage hasn’t worked—an extended family of choice, whose members are now moving into new kinds of marriages.” She does not mention that she conducted a long affair with a married man (who refused to leave his wife); it seems likely that, like John Stuart Mill, she constructed an entire philosophy around justifying her own bad behavior.

You get the idea; there is no need to continue examining the details of this book, the pages of which are only useful to line birdcages. This is all propaganda, which we have been fed so long that we believe it as history. As with other, slicker propaganda, such as the television series Mad Men, it portrays a set of falsehoods, laced with enough true background facts to pacify the reader eager to agree and comply. (It is always crucial to remember that much of what “everybody knows” now about many periods in the past is simply lies, and there is no better example of this than the 1950s and 1960s, in nearly every facet of their history, fed to us through our screens.) Boring. Let’s talk instead about what a well-run society would look like.

But first, let me expand my thinking about why this book “succeeded” in its goal of massive social change. As with all major social changes, mere propaganda is not adequate explanation. The propaganda was successful because it hit our society at precisely the right moment, when it was open to the infection. First, emancipation was in the air; as Yuval Levin discusses at considerable length in The Fractured Republic, the 1950s were a unique moment in American history, when it falsely seemed like everyone could have unlimited freedom without cost, and this belief was not confined to those on the Left, but permeated society. Second, and tied to the first, intermediary institutions, and the thicker web in which families were set, had already evaporated. Housewives, at least the suburban housewives who are Friedan’s sole focus, were in fact very frequently alienated and atomized, because the organic social structures that had supported both men and women had declined sharply (and would disappear entirely, as Robert Putnam narrated in Bowling Alone). These women did have more free time as the result of labor-saving devices; Friedan claims work expands to fill the time available, but the real problem is that given their removal from the thick social structures of previous decades, free time had no satisfying social outlet, giving Friedan’s explanatory fantasies a surface appeal, like a poisoned apple.

Third, and perhaps most important, the Left goal of destruction of the family fit precisely, in this case, with the unbridled capitalism, the excessively free market, that has worked hand-in-glove with the Left for decades to destroy our society (aided by the government). As a result of this book, or rather the propaganda campaign built around it, we got a massive movement of women into the workforce. Did those women get fulfillment, as Friedan promised? Maybe a few did, but most of them got BS jobs of various types, and we all got a massive increase in consumerism, which we are told is wonderful, because “look how much GDP has increased as a result of women entering the workforce!” Of course, even this “fact” is a lie, because GDP excludes work inside the home. If two women raise their children, their work is excluded from GDP, but if each is paid by the other to raise the other’s children, GDP expands. As I have discussed elsewhere, GDP is largely a fake statistic and much of our economy a fake economy; and anyway it is simply false that any expansion in GDP is a social good, especially when the resulting costs, in the form of mass social destruction, are treated as disconnected, mere happening coincident in time but unrelated. Regardless, with the assistance of the government and free-market enthusiasts eager to enrich a rotten ruling class, now a two-income family is required for what is regarded as a decent lifestyle, or even just to make modest ends meet, and this was independently a goal of too many in our society.

Better yet for our neoliberal overlords is a one-income family consisting of a permanently single woman. If you want to shudder, read a completely insane CNN article from 2019, titled “There are more single working women than ever, and that’s changing the US economy.” The point is that single women spend an ever-greater proportion of the money spent on consumer goods, so we must further this trend, in particular by ensuring that those such women foolish enough to have children are given a place to park their children while they work to get money for the consumer goods that should be the real focus of their lives. As I noted in my thoughts on Matthew B. Crawford’s The World Beyond Your Head, which pillories consumerism, there is more and more advertising, if you pay attention, to single women of luxury goods that in the past would be bought as gifts for those women—who now have nobody in their lives who will buy them any gifts at all, and must purchase artificial joy. It is enough to make one cry, if one wasn’t already fully occupied in flogging the cretins who brought us to this stupid pass.

So, enough abuse of the stupid. What should the social roles of women and men be in a well-run society? [Review continues as first comment.]
Profile Image for Adrianne Mathiowetz.
248 reviews220 followers
September 24, 2014
Some context: I have always considered myself a feminist, from the first time I heard the word around age 10. In junior high I became a loyal subscriber of "New Moon" and vehement despiser of "Teen," and after my parents went to bed I'd sneak into online chat rooms to assume the identity of a 27 year old veteran named Roger who was staunchly anti-war and pro-choice. (Turned out people were much more willing to engage with him than a 14 year old girl, in a pretty rad reverse to-catch-a-predator move). In high school and college I diligently volunteered, marched, and debated, I wore loud buttons and t-shirts and when I first heard a boy refer to his girlfriend as his "partner" it was like the skies opened and angels sang and I had to stop myself from just leaning in for a nonconsensual soul make-out because this guuuuuuuuy!

What I'm trying to say is, I picked up this book at the age of 31 as a member of the choir. I picked up this book as historical artifact, from the 60s and maybe even a little quaint, something that might help me better understand the subplots of Mad Men.

Then: this book changed my life.

So that happened.

I actually can't think of any other book I have ever read that has affected me this deeply. In my life's timeline there is now pre-this-book and post-this-book, which I can say about 0 other books so far. Granted, it also fell into my hands at a perfect time: about 10 years out of college.

10 years spent slowly approaching fashion magazines (look, what am I supposed to do with this dumb hair), 10 years scrolling through Pinterest, blogs, watching online commercials; seeing film and TV plotline after plotline with the same boilerplate gender dynamics and definitions of romance and success and happiness and to start feeling the miasma of culture inevitably seeping into my belief systems and sense of self in a way that was both soothing and vaguely discomfiting at the same time. And to start approaching a time in my life when marriage doesn't seem so crazy, and starting to envision what I'd like that relationship to look like.

The Feminine Mystique is most well known as a feminist manifesto, but to pigeon-hole and possibly dismiss it for this reason would be a regrettable mistake. It's an impeccably researched and reported tome on society, roles, and the capacity for fulfillment within the individual. It is 100% pro-family, pro-romantic-relationships, and pro-men, a tone which is strongly carried throughout the book only to be directly stated in the author's epilogue; if anything, individuals could in all fairness be taken MORE to task in this book, which its afterword by Anna Quindlen mentions. But Friedan adeptly plays equal parts historian, sociologist, psychoanalyst, statistician, reporter, and strong advocate, quoting countless interviews she conducted across American high schools, colleges, and suburbia. She spoke to the heads of magazines, hospitals, and schools. She got access to the slick underbelly of advertising agencies and the research used to direct their campaigns.

Fom an advertising 1945 survey she quotes (dividing women into 3 categories and their usefulness to the manufacturer: "The True Housewife Type," "The Career Woman," and "The Balanced Homemaker"):

The moral of the study was explicit: "Since the Balanced Homemaker represents the market with the greatest future potential, it would be to the advantage of the appliance manufacturer to make more and more women aware of the desirability of belonging to this group. Educate them through advertising that it is possible to have outside interests and become alert to wider intellectual influences (without becoming a Career Woman). The art of good homemaking should be the goal of every normal woman."

The frank declarations of profit motivation and manipulation can be shocking, even taken in their historical context (another quote from an advertising report: "It might be possible to suggest through advertising that not to take advantage of all 12 uses of X Mix is to limit your efforts to give pleasure to your family. A transfer of guilt might be achieved.") It may seem outrageous and impossible by today's standards, but just as our marketing today wears a more nuanced and subtle garb of the Mystique, so perhaps has our language in setting its boundaries -- to the point where it seems like it shouldn't be a problem at all. Women's rights? Of course we're all for women's rights! Look at this sassy main female character, solving crimes (in her sexy boots and tinyshorts)! Look at that presidential candidate (and this unflattering photo of all her chins, she's aging it's so shameful)! It's a recognizable but more complicated insidiousness, veiled in Girl Power and allegedly shattered glass ceilings and photoshopped limbs and self-righteous rape jokes and slut-shaming and still, still the question, "what shame is there in 'occupation: housewife'?"

The main takeaways from this book are for everyone, regardless of gender/race/class/sexuality: it's our passions, autonomy, and endless drive to further our knowledge and self-actualize that make us fully developed human beings -- our best selves in society, in love, in our families, and alone. And to stunt that growth to full potential is a foot-binding of the mind. At worst this is a kind of death, at best a "comfortable concentration camp."

If women do not put forth, finally, that effort to become all that they have it in them to become, they will forfeit their own humanity. A woman today who has no goal, no purpose, no ambition patterning her days into the future, making her stretch and grow beyond that smalls core of years in which her body can fill its biological function, is committing a kind of suicide. ...The terror she feels is real, if she has no place in that world. ... Only by such a personal commitment to the future can American women break out of the housewife trap and truly find fulfillment as wives and mothers -- by fulfilling their own unique possibilities as separate human beings.

Incredible writing, incredible reporting, and about so much more than housewives. Everything that has been uneasily, wordlessly hovering in the periphery: now a nonstop lightbulb over the head.

Profile Image for Moxie.
111 reviews8 followers
February 14, 2009
I picked up this book on a whim because its one of those books that we all know played an important part in the women's movement. But, having grown up a generation after the women's movement began, I always sort of felt like there wouldn't be a whole lot in there that I didn't already know or hadn't already heard. I have to say, though, I learned quite a bit.

It is a dense book with very long chapters and therefore is not a quick read. And although there is a little bit of repetitiveness, you can tell Friedan was really trying to drive home the point rather than simply filling the pages with the repetitiveness. All in all though, it is a very good reading experience. It was fascinating hearing her perceptions of the world she was living in all the while having the perspective of just how much things have changed since this book was written in 1963. And I learned a lot about the women’s movement that I hadn’t really appreciated before.

For example, I always had understood the fight for women’s equality to be about womens' right to choose their own destiny–whether that was being simply a wife and mother (the archetypal “housewife”) or a dedicated career woman or both. I thought that the fight against being “just housewives” was more a reaction to the fact that was, at the time, the only acceptable role for women. But reading this book, filled with her dedicated research, I realized she was making a deeper point than that. The point is that being “just a housewife”, if your intellectual capacity requires more, is never an acceptable choice, even if you think you are making that choice of your own free will.

Her theory is that failing to fully live up to your potential and letting your intellectual capacities slid does serious damage to your ability to grow and develop as a human adult. Her argument then concludes that this personal failure to fully develop has wide-ranging effects on your family, your children, and your society as a whole. Of course, men's intellectual development has not typically been arrested at early levels like women's development has.

The kind of ideal woman she describes is the kind who makes an effort to develop herself intellectually, to fully discover who she is, and is therefore a much happier and fulfilled wife and mother when she does take on the traditionally ‘feminine” roles in society. And I have to say, if my group of female friends are any indication, I think she’s right. The women I know fit that framework and are the happier for it, which would not have been possible (or at least not socially acceptable) even just a generation ago.

The bottom line: It’s worth the effort. Read it. Even those of us who have benefitted from her hard work and no longer face the uphill challenges she discusses in the book can gain a new perspective and appreciation of just how far women have come and how much farther we still need to go.
Profile Image for Cat Tobin.
279 reviews6 followers
April 9, 2014
It terrifies me how relevant this book still is to my life today, and how much of my mother - and to some extent, myself - I see in the women Friedan is addressing.

Dealing predominantly with a mystery malaise impacting American housewives in the 1950s, The Feminine Mystique is a call to action; a reminder that equality doesn't end with winning the votes, it ends with both sexes being equally encouraged, and empowered, to fully realise their potential as a human being.

A powerful message, eloquently told and highly recommended to anyone who wonders why it's still considered unfeminine to be intelligent, ambitious and independent.
Profile Image for Lobstergirl.
1,715 reviews1,242 followers
April 5, 2013

Carrie Underwood is a chart-topping superstar, but she'd give it all up for her husband, hockey player Mike Fisher.

"If Mike ever told me he needed me to quit, I'd quit," Underwood told People magazine Wednesday. "When you make that promise to somebody, and you stand before God and your family and friends, you've got to do everything that you possibly can to make that work."

Underwood also revealed that Fisher's fit body inspires her to keep in shape.

"Even when he's like, 'I'm so out of shape,' he still has a six-pack," she said. "Having Mike there -– I want to be a hot wife!"

Underwood and Fisher married in 2010. Underwood has commented on the strength of her marriage before -- earlier this year, she said that she has never worried about Fisher cheating because he "just wouldn't do that."

I guess the need for this book will never go away.

In many ways the book is as relevant as ever. I found Friedan's references to Abraham Maslow and Erik H. Erikson on identity formation extremely interesting. (Basically the book can be summed up as: unless you have a fully formed identity/ego, you are going to be miserable eventually. No woman can be fully formed and satisfied if her identity exists only through her husband and children.) On some topics, though, it's a document from a time capsule; lots of people in 1963, Friedan included, saw male homosexuality as something caused by bad mothering rather than nature. Friedan recognizes the baleful influence of Freud on women's identity, yet she can't completely sever herself from all of his ideas, and psychoanalysis and psychotherapy as something lots of people took part in is a thread running throughout the book. There's also an obsession with the female orgasm that got old fast.

This edition has a long, self-indulgent, unnecessary epilogue containing Friedan's joy at becoming a grandmother. An editor should have excised it.
Profile Image for Beth.
25 reviews
Want to read
December 30, 2012
Putting this on my re-read list. I have changed a lot since reading it in college. Updated review pending.
Profile Image for Nicholas During.
185 reviews23 followers
March 12, 2013
What a powerful book, and I think not very out-of-date. Betty Friedan does some studies of women, university graduates, and discovers that in the 50s and early 60s women were dropping out of school, getting married younger than any time before, and dleaving the workplace to be housewife at a higher rate than previously was occurring. Why, she asks, is this happening in a time when the feminist movement was meant to have won some serious gains. The reason is "the feminine mystique," the idea that a woman's identity is based on her biology, her reproductive purpose, and her role as mother, provider, cook, and cleaner. This mystique comes from an alarming amount of sources: academics (a truly scary picture), newspapers, women's magazines, advertisements, companies, rival working men, etc.

Friedan says that she is not attacking the role of housewife, but she really is. She notes that these women, the educated housewives who gave up their education and career to dedicate themselves to being a mother and housewife, have serious psychological problems, and the don't understand why since they often have very good lives (in terms of family, money, status, etc.), this is "the problem that cannot be named." Moreover, Friedan finds it is coming out in the next generation, in their children, boys in particular, and husbands. The kids are so used to having a full-time mom that they never really get to grow by themselves. The husbands, instead of relaxing at home after a hard day of work supported by their dedicated wives as the mystique reckons it, find that they return to resentful, exhausted, bored, and often addicted wives who have no distraction outside the home to develop their individual identity. Friedan's solution is to get out of the house, get a job, return to your real studying (night classes won't help), be ambitious.

All of this seems pretty straightforward to me. What makes the book so special today, I think, is a couple things. I had no idea that in the 50s and 60s there was such a regression in the lives of women. Studies prove that they married much younger (like late-teens, early 20s), had kids much earlier (right after that), dropped out of school earlier even when they were good students, and gave up, or never started, careers even when they were very talented. It wasn't the case that women's rights and lives was a slow progress up, it had started to decrease. Friedan then starts her history of feminism, and claims that many people don't know the rights won and how difficult it was (I think this is pretty true since many people say this book was the beginning of US feminism). And the reaction against feminisim which claims that woman belong in the house, belong just as mothers, and don't need to work to benefit society. While this is still heard, and I wasn't surprised to hear it, it is strange to hear it from the lips of famous thinkers, Margaret Mead get a big slap, and how accepted it was as a theory. The best chapter is on the selling of the feminine mystique, both by advertisers who realize that there is a huge market in consuming housewives (how many cleaning appliances and products does one need?), and in the uncreative women magazines that think the feminine mystique sells (who will identify with a successful single woman?). That these magazines rely on advertising from the cleaning products is not surprising. And God knows it still happens.

Honestly the book does go a bit too long, and repeats its point a bit too much to make it a truly fascinating read. But this book should be read by everyone today, I firmly believe. Not many people are willing to say the fight for women's rights is over. There are parts where this book is out-of-date—the chapter about universities and their treatment on their female students is shocking and I believe has mostly been fixed today, at least in the curriculum. And it is true that Friedan is talking about housewives with husbands who make enough money to live—the truly poor do not make these pages. Yet reading some of the extra material in this edition show how important this book was to many. Women did have real psychological issues when they felt compelled to stop their lives and development and stay in the home. Women were being ignored in almost every area. And America, and the world, was suffering for it. The movement is not over, and Friedan firmly takes on abortion as a right that women should be able to decide on themselves, but as happened in the 50s and 60s, without knowing the history, the fights, and treatment in the past, it's very hard to improve the future.
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