Betty Friedan was an American feminist writer who most notably was responsible for the must read Feminine Mystique(1963)
The problem lay buried, unspoken, for many years in the minds
of American women. It was a strange stirring, a sense of
a yearning that women suffered in the middle of the twentieth
century in the United States. Each suburban wife struggled with
it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched
slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children,
chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at
night--she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question--"Is
It is no longer possible today to blame the problem on loss
of femininity: to say that education and independence and equality
with men have made American women unfeminine. I have heard so
many women try to deny this dissatisfied voice within themselves
because it does not fit the pretty picture of femininity the experts
have given them. I think, in fact, that this is the first clue
to the mystery; the problem cannot be understood in the generally
accepted terms by which scientists have studied women, doctors
have treated them, counselors have advised them, and writers have
written about them. Women who suffer this problem, in whom this
voice is stirring, have lived their whole lives in the pursuit
of feminine fulfillment.
I think the experts in a great many fields have been holding
pieces of that truth under their microscopes for a long time without
realizing it. I found pieces of it in certain new research and
theoretical developments in psychological, social and biological
science whose implications for women seem never to have been examined.
I found many clues by talking to suburban doctors, gynecologists,
obstetricians, child-guidance clinicians, pediatricians, high-school
guidance counselors, college professors, marriage counselors,
psychiatrists and ministers-questioning them not on their theories,
but on their actual experience in treating American women. I became
aware of a growing body of evidence, much of which has not been
reported publicly because it does not fit current modes of thought
about women--evidence which throws into question the standards
of feminine normality, feminine adjustment, feminine fulfillment,
and feminine maturity by which most women are still trying to
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