Feminine Mystique for American society in 1960
Feminine Mystique had helped the women to express their irritations and dissatisfactions that have haunted them and with which they have dealt all alone. The spark was ignited by works of Betty Friedan in Feminine Mystique. The publication of such a work became the driving factor of forcing women to think about her own independent lifestyle. They appeared to be content, but a sort of irritation and dissatisfaction was growing within them. They were simply afraid to end up their life totally in this fashion with no recreation. A true feminist at that time was never supposed to demand for a successful working career or financial independence. The deep cultural changes were dragging women to workplaces and there they also ended up with dissatisfaction witnessing huge gender discrimination and more pay for male employees (unequal remuneration). Several protests led to social reforms in America after that. Keeping this at the backdrop, the essay addresses the wave of change that stirred the American society in 1960s with publication of Feminine Mystique, which created a national debate about women’s roles and over time acknowledged as one of the significant works of the modern women’s movement.
Interviews and surveys of contemporaries have been conducted by reputed organizations to find out the life of American women during 1960 i.e. post World War II. The Gallup organization had conducted 18,000 interviews of mainly divorced and aged women all hailing from 1960s.The respondents were mainly in their mid thirties with just basic education. Most of them were having a child or two and were complete homemakers during 1960s. These women were those who had witnessed World War II and got married some years post war. Stephaine Coontz’s opinions about women of 1960 has been captured in her remarks, “To modern generations these women’s lives seem as outmoded as the white gloves and pert hats they wore when they left the shelter of their homes” (Coontz, xii). Such remarks give an idea of women during the mid 20th century. It also emphasizes the value and credibility of their lives when viewed from the perspective of modern society. Women then were seen only as taking care of their husbands and parents. She had to do all the household chores hardly getting any time for herself. In one part of The Help the author Kathryn Stockett describes Leefolt saying “Twenty three years old and she lanky as a fourteen year old boy. Even her hair is thin, brown and see through” (Stockett, 1). The author shows a contrasting feature compared to Feminine Mystique where some women in society had no time for baby care and left them in care of other women. Those other women did the job with utmost devotion irrespective of their physical and mental state. But the approach of both the works has been quite different although they deal with a similar issue. Feminine Mystique talks about the life of women in general during mid 20th century. But in The Help the author has narrated a story where a woman goes on to take care of another’s child after losing her own son. The American society of that time has been depicted therein. Child bearing also came at an early age as women began to get engaged right after high school. The marriage age of 20 had dropped to 17 (Freidan, 58). Such an early marriage affected the