A commentary today for your reading pleasure on Betty Friedan and The Feminine Mystique. (Just as I head out the door to a REAL Women conference here in Ottawa. How fitting!) I have read Betty, and found her largely absurd. (It’s the “motherhood as waste of human self” that stuck with me–now really. How did she teach that one to her daughter? But I digress.)
I continue to ponder how those second wave feminists took off–while being so anti-woman in many regards. And I think it has to do with this quote below–from the piece in the New York Sun that I’m linking too.
But her essential point was both down-to-earth and true: Postwar America had taken the ideal of femininity to absurd extremes. Women in the ’50s were encouraged to be childlike, passive, dependent, and “fluffy” (Friedan’s word).
When I look at the magazines in the grocery style aisle, I can’t help but think they are still, for all their “tough working women” rhetoric, consigning women to a “fluffy” bucket. And if not a fluffy bucket–they are certainly defining women in one way, and one way only.
I do believe women are happy and fulfilled where they are free to do what they want to do. The thought I have is that the current wave of feminism (and I lose track, so many of them crash into the shore) is as condemning, as unfriendly, as dictatorial as anything Friedan herself experienced.