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The Feminine Mystique Paperback – September 17, 2001

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Editorial Reviews


“[The Feminine Mystique] now feels both revolutionary and utterly contemporary. . . . Four decades later, millions of individual transformations later, there is still so much to learn from this book. . . . Those who think of it as solely a feminist manifesto ought to revisit its pages to get a sense of the magnitude of the research and reporting Friedan undertook.” (Anna Quindlen)

“The book that pulled the trigger on history.” (Alvin Toffler, author of Future Shock)

“One of those rare books we are endowed with only once in several decades.” (Amitai Etzioni, author of The Spirit of Community: The Reinvention of American Society)

“[A] bridge between conservative and radical elements in feminism, an ardent advocate of harmony and human values.” (Marilyn French - Esquire)

From the Publisher

First published in 1963, The Feminine Mystique ignited a revolution that profoundly changed our culture, our conciousness, and our lives. Today it newly penetrates to the heart of isuues determining our lives -- and sounds a call to arms against the very real dangers of a newe feminine mystique in the economic and political turbulence of the 1990s.

Three decades later, the underlying issues raised by Betty Friedan strike at the core of the problems women still face at home and in the marketplace. As women continue to struggle for equality, to keep their hard-won gains, to find fulfillment in their careers, marriage and family, The Feminine Mystique remains the seminal conciousness-raising work of our times. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (September 17, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393322572
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393322576
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

245 of 262 people found the following review helpful By Mayer Goldberg on August 5, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It's common wisdom to think of the Feminine Mystique as a classical feminist text. This is perhaps the case, but I would like to argue that it is so much more than that. The book examines what society tells women about their lives -- education, career, family, sexuality, goals, values, and anything else. The book discusses what society tells women, who exactly promotes these views about femininity, out of what possible motives, and what toll do these views have on women, their family and their children. The basic thesis of the book is that femininity has been mystified, manipulated, and taught back to women, in their homes and schools and churches, in the novels and magazines they read, etc -- that this mystification of femininity is a monsterous distortion of a person's life, resulting in emotional problems, marital and family tension, stifled careers, and general unhappiness... That we -- society -- have been living in denial of the condition women have been manipulated into, and therefore have been ineffectual in our help. That there are good reasons why things are the way they are -- it's embarassing to discover just how economically profitable this distortion is.
The Feminine Mystique is profound and penetrating in that it questions a state of affairs so many of us take (or have taken) for granted. The book appeals to reason. You won't find any "masculine logic" vs. "feminine logic" stuff here; Just logic: The book is a systematic expose of the problem, its toll on women, and its toll on the rest of the family -- men and children.
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177 of 191 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 18, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I find the review below about the women who were "bored because their men looked after them too well" to be very amusing. Coming from a poor area like Appalachia when I was young in the 50s I don't remember being too well looked after by my men. My mother was beat every night by my father and then he left her when I was 14 and we both had to go out and get jobs. Of course one of the problems back then was that it was so hard for women to find good jobs and we just weren't educated for it. We had to work as waitresses and that was about all we could do until we got married and then when our husbands got layed off we had to find work again and I had to work in a pencil factory while I was married anyway even when my husband wasnt layed off, my husband wasn't making enough money for the both of us and all our kids. So see, we weren't all rich little house wives back then and the author herself doesn't say much about the poor. I will tell you this though, if there weren't books like this around my daughter wouldn't be a doctor today and having a secure future. Shed be working at some dead end job like I was waiting for a guy to marry her and then probably still having to keep a job to keep the kids clothed. I'm tired of anti feminist rich republican wives putting down the feminist movement. It helped my life and that is all I can say about it.
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166 of 194 people found the following review helpful By "neeterskeeter27" on October 4, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a well-documented and well-reseached book that discusses the problems faced by many American housewives. It was written in the sixties, when women were returning to their homes after the sexual revolution and the woman's right movement, when they were proudly filling in forms with "Occupation: Housewife" once again. These women were told by psychoanalysists, who mostly based their findings on Frued's theories, that a woman's sex life and happiness was ultimately found through living her life soley for her husband and children. The women Freidan studied and interviewed for this book were usually surburban wives, living in nice houses with their executive husbands who made a lot of money. These women had done everything right. They had married young: some barely finished or didn't finish high school, others dropped out of college, all for the goal of marrying their sweetheart and fulfilling the perfect image of the feminime mystique. These women had had many babies by natural childbirth, they sewed all their clothes and washed all their dished by hand, they had breastfed them all, they had doted on their childrens' and husband's interests and goals so much that they lost sight of their own. And even though these women were living by the perfect standards set by the "feminine mystique", they were dreadfully unhappy. So many were seeing pscyhoanalysts without positive results, so many were harboring resentful, depressing thoughts, and contemplating everything from an extramarital affair to suicide. And the most common problem of all came to be known as "chronic fatique syndrome". The women with this problem experienced listlessness and wrestlessness. They were always tired no matter how much they slept. Their joints and bones ached.Read more ›
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Megareader on October 6, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book in high school, and was very happy to read it again in my 40s. In each instance, the urgency, and the modern-day applications of this work hit me in the face: the American woman exists in a world with extraordinary pressures. The pressure to get married; the pressure to let a man support you; the pressure to fully believe that unless you live your life through your family and solely through your family that you are somehow a failure.

Some parts of this book feel dated--and certainly the author is concentrating on but a section society: white, college educated, and at the least middle class.

However, look at how our teenager daughters and nieces are being sexualized today--this is only slightly different from the 1950s, where a young girl's sexuality was her primary trading commodity. Look at how the consumer culture continues to influence us. And look at how intelligent women (college educated or not, because there are plenty of smart women who didn't go to college) are still pressured to stay at home. The current cult of the "perfect parent" and "helicopter mother" still stems from the insidious understanding that women must give all to creating a perfect family.

THE FEMININE MYSTIQUE is thought-provoking and still more than a bit scarey. Can anyone imagine a time where your college major was, pretty much, a course in ironing?

If you want to learn more read PINK THINK--more lighthearted but as thought provoking.
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