The feminine mystique refers to the situation where women in all arrays of activities are not satisfied with the “traditional” perspective of them being only housewives. The growing urge of women to want something more than their husbands, children and their homes. The idea of the past that says that it is automatic for a woman to be happy given these three factors is misguided as studies have shown that this is not the case. This idea then made women to view house work as careers and not performing it with love and care. Women involved in other activities such as careers were seen as queer and this harbored hard thoughts in the mind of psychologists and character coaches.
Expectations of women in the 1930s were characterized into the boundaries of a home. They were only seen as doing the right things when they were in their families’ homes doing the same chores day in day out. In marginalized societies where the relative income generation was low, these women were expected to take up the roles of taking care of the family in all other aspects apart from looking for income to feed the family as this was regarded the work of men. They were expected to conform to the society’s expectations by giving up their personal desires of good careers and be housewives where they would stay at home taking care of chores in the house alone. The cold war that was experienced in the late 1940s and early 1950s was the main cause for the problem of viewing women as only housewives as they were given the hard task of taking care of the family as the breadwinner went to war. This caused the thought of revolution in women as they saw the need to not only be expecting help form their men but rather fend for themselves (Friedan, 1963). However, the thought was going against all the culture of the people stood by and therefore it grew to be a silent family destroyer and a main reason why most women were unhappy.
Friedan, (1963) blamed the scenario of feminine mystique by first calling it a problem with no name. She went ahead and blamed the media, educators, professors and the culture to promoting this “vice” of discriminating and dictatorship when it came to women’s democracy in their own lives. The narrowing of the capabilities of women was done by the culture that bound the free will of women as they were confided in domesticity and motherhood. Women’s anatomy is identified by her biology and it should be followed up by a realization of self by the woman that puts away immaturity. The growth in women’s character according to Friedan was not realized as they only had sole roles of being wives and mothers. Their core rights as humans of; pursuing desires, education and the rights to vote were crucial and had to be secured to be able to actualize the personal development of women as wives and mothers (Friedan, 1963).
Upsetting the social balance was something that was not there in the 1950s and 1960s as the cultural settings were followed strictly. Functionalism (linkages between parts of a society that work together to promote stability, growth and solidarity) was attempted to be able to study the founding units of a society. Both women and men were analyzed to pinpoint their functions in society to uncover the hidden manipulation of individual units. It proved that women had to stick to their set functions in order to maintain the social balance. This was because researchers thought that exploration of alternative activities by the women meant that they would lose their femininity and their ability for sexual fulfillment (Friedan, 1963).
Critics later pointed that the arguments behind feminine mystiques were inconsiderate of the differences in the nature and setting of environments. It is argued that the whole argument was from a “white” woman point of view as they reflect how the white race handled their affairs. The black women who had long believed in the working women revealed contradicting evidence against the debate of femininity. They even believed that women working was an essential factor in the quest of elevating the status of a family and the society as a whole. These ebony women were able to balance both fairly and careers as it was commonly revealed in the magazines based on the success of ebony women. The critics increased in the whole issue of feminist mystique as people argued that the whole debate came from a radical point of view and that some arguments were generated from a biased point of view (Friedan, 1963).
The revolution of women changing the employment patterns was seen in the 1950s where they were engaged in paid labor increasing the percentage of women in work from 25% in 1940s to 35% in 1960s. Married women also started engaging themselves in employment at the wake of this revolution from 17% to 32%. They were absorbed in the white collar jobs and in turn dominated in their respective activities. The pink-collar jobs that involved inter-personal service delivery also witnessed a growing percentage of women participants. The levels of literacy in women also went up as they involved themselves in educative activities. The culture of women only performing home chores changed and this led to the increase in the per-capita income in their respective states and the country as a whole (Friedan, 1963).
Women are considered as the backbone of growth and development in a society for when a woman develops the family grows in turn. They are accredited to the wholesome growth because of their feminine view of growth that was evidenced in the Puerto Rican women who worked and used the remunerations for the development of their respective homes. The women agreed that the more they worked the more they were able to take care of their families and children specifically (Friedan, 1963).
In conclusion, the feminine mystique was a crucial topic to be able to uncover enlightenment of the roles of units in the family. Women being allowed to work does not mean that they would lose their sexuality or worse their femininity but rather will be able to add a new aspect of their roles. Their biological setting is to be able to care and show kindness to the society. This whole argument was based on the changing of women view of seeing housework as a career rather than embracing it as a duty they passionately love to do.
Friedan, B. (1963). The feminine mystique. New York: W.W. Norton.