Customer Reviews


103 Reviews
5 star:
 (55)
4 star:
 (16)
3 star:
 (11)
2 star:
 (16)
1 star:
 (5)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


237 of 254 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars profound, penetrating, rational and humane
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...
Published on August 5, 2000 by Mayer Goldberg

versus
43 of 52 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I'm glad that I can't relate to this book
Let me start off by saying that this book got an additional star from me because I completely agree with the point of this book: That if woman doesn't stand up and provide themselves with an identity and use themselves to their whole potential, they will become incomplete and nothing. This is mainly summed up in the chapter: A New Life Plan for Women. I recommend this...
Published on July 17, 2007 by J. Plummer


‹ Previous | 1 211 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

237 of 254 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars profound, penetrating, rational and humane, August 5, 2000
By 
Mayer Goldberg (Beer Sheva, Negev Israel) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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. The book is humane and compassionate in dealing with human suffering: It doesn't place men and women on opposite sides of some battle of the sexes, but rather places all of us on the same side -- the side of the victims -- of some really bad ideas that have been dominant in society for a long time.
The book is frightening, because having read it, the magnitude and scope of women's suffering takes on a new meaning. The book is liberating, because having read it, you realise the mistakes you've made in your own life -- how you may have contributed to the problem, and you have a pretty good idea as to how to go about changing things -- your own life, and the way you deal with others. This is a great book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


166 of 179 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Feminine Mystique, April 18, 2000
By A Customer
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


166 of 194 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic book and a triumph for Feminism - a must-read!, October 4, 2000
By 
"neeterskeeter27" (http://www.neeterskeeter.com/new) - See all my reviews
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. They could not stayed interested in or concentrated on one subject for a long period of time. They were physically with their children all the time, but never really there in spirit.
And so, based on these findings, Freidan studied these women more, interviewed them more, and wrote The Feminine Mystique, in which she published her theories. I found most of her ideas to be extremely well thought out, and I can imagine how much the american housewife of the sixties, and later, really needed these ideas. For instance, Friedan comments on how "housework expands to fit the time available", noting that the house of the working women was always clean, even though she had a limited amount of time to clean it in, while the housewife who was perpetually cleaning and recleaning everything could never seem to "get anything done". Friedan also studied the ways in which these mothers affected their children, and most grew up to be dependant and irresponsible. The men looked for girls to marry who would take the place of their mother, who did everything for them, and the girls grew up to be stuck in the same trap as their mother, being a mother not only to their children but to their husbands as well, since their husbands had grown up under the feminine mystique and expected his wife to act as his mother had. Many times, the mothers try to live the dreams they never got fulfilled because of early marriage and motherhood through their children, and this is never good.
The most important thesis in this book, in my opinion, is the way in which Friedan pleads for women to become their own individuals. When a girl marries at seventeen, before she has even grown up herself, and has children of her own, her growing and learning process is stunted and she never finds out who she really is or what she really wants. When a woman waits on her family night and day, she loses such a big part of herself that she begins to feel like all she does for everyone else is useless and taken for granted. Freidan implores women to follow their own interests and not let the feminine mystique stunt their growth. She gives findings of women who finally went back to the desires and goals they had in their youth, as well as women who never left them but were the rare minority who combined motherhood with a career, and showed that they were no less women then the ones who stayed at home. In fact, having a life of their own improved the woman's marriage, family and sex life drastically when compared with the women whose worlds revolved around other people.
I found a few problems with Friedan's book and although they are insignificant in comparison with the book's positive aspects, they are worth pointing out nonetheless. Mainly, although Friedan is very advanced for her time in suggesting freedom and independence for women, she was very descriminative against homosexuals. She spent the first half of her book refuting Freud's theories about women and stating how he was a bad pscyhologist with unexamined and biased theories when it came to this area. However, she backs up her thesis about "weak" homosexual men being drawn to the love of other men because of the relationship they still desire with their mothers with all of Freud's theories. I don't think she should tear Freud's theories apart when it is in her favor and use the same person to back her up when she is talking about a different subject. Also her book is still sexist in the sense that she always expects women to do the housework and, if they choose to have a career, manage it along with the housework, when what she should do is suggest that if the man and the woman are both working, the man and the woman should both help out with the housework. However, since her views were so revolutionary at this time I am sure she did not want to press it by suggesting men actually do "woman's" work, since her very suggestion that women can and should do "man's" work was already taking things far.
On the whole this book was unquestionably fantastic. Although, fortunately, many women work today, some still face bias, prejudice, and descrimination from others, and this book goes to show that there is nothing wrong with a woman doing what she wants to do with her life just as there is nothing wrong with a man doing the same thing. And there are still some housewifes caught up in the feminine mystique who should read the book and find out why they are suffering the "problem who has no name". I feel that this book has done a tremendous amount of good for women throughout history after its publication, and it can still do a lot for them today...
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Something dated and something contemporary..., May 15, 2002
This review is from: The Feminine Mystique (Paperback)
As someone new to reading the printed word on feminism, I find Friedan's style accessible and readable. The content is at once dated and amazingly contemporary.
I never knew the issues my mother had to deal with, or her mother. Learning something of the conditions in which they lived gave me a somewhat better understanding of why my mother acts as she does many times. It helps me to understand the helplessness of an entire generation of women, though I still find it somewhat difficult to completely excuse.
The image of women today, particularly that of the contemporary, suburban housewife could not be better described. It is strange to me that in a "modern" American, women are so complacent. Do they choose this, or is it as Friedan describes it? Are the ideas of feminism subliminated? Has the state of being a woman really changed all that much? Are the women who other women model themselves after, not the same toy people, fluffless creatures Friedan presents her reader?
A penetrating and well written feminist work. A classic worth reading and carefully considering.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You'll never quit your job after reading this book, October 6, 2006
By 
Megareader (Hudson Valley, NY) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Feminine Mystique (Paperback)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


43 of 52 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I'm glad that I can't relate to this book, July 17, 2007
By 
This review is from: The Feminine Mystique (Paperback)
Let me start off by saying that this book got an additional star from me because I completely agree with the point of this book: That if woman doesn't stand up and provide themselves with an identity and use themselves to their whole potential, they will become incomplete and nothing. This is mainly summed up in the chapter: A New Life Plan for Women. I recommend this book simply on this chapter. It is inspiring, positive, and relevant for women to read, even to this day. However, the rest of this book was hard for me to get through. In reference to the title of my review, I am young and perhaps I can't relate to some of the issues Ms. Friedan has brought up because of the women's movement of the '60's and '70's which has provided me with more opportunity, as a woman, to make life and career choices for myself without pressure or guilt. I am glad that I don't have the restrictions that women had back then and I am so grateful that there were women out there that knew our potential and were not willing to compromise it. But asides from possibly not liking the material because I found it hard to relate to, I did find that Ms.Friedan used alot of subject matter that is at best, subjective (for instance, the chapter Mistaken Choice was absurdly biased-- she makes references that the men in the military that were rejected for service due to mental issues usually came from homes that had doting overly loving mothers, that juvenile deliquency was non-existent in the homes of mothers who worked, that Russian children were more stable and adjusted than American children because their mothers worked or had interests outside the home etc, and that she even goes to imply that over loving a child is more traumatic for the child than raising them in a household where whippings and beatings are frequent possibilties.) There are other scattered observations that she made that I found hard to swallow as well, such as part of the chapter The Sexual Sell which implies that business caters to the homemakers because they do all the buying, and that mothers with careers or serious interests outside the home do not have the time to take to buy from business. I find it hard to believe that big business couldn't capitalize on the working mom. I can't believe that a working mom wouldn't be interested in an appliance that could cut her time to get chores done back then as well as today. That part of the chapter made no sense to me. Basically, I felt that Ms. Friedan used a lot of subjective facts, scare tactics (mother and housewife bashing), and propaganda that was unnecessary, at best, to get to her more inspiring point. I felt that all that "material" detracted from the point of the book, but I am glad I made it all the way through to get to the "New Plan." That's where the "heart of the artichoke" lies. But to those of you who feel that the point of the book is, "women who are unhappy with their lives are this way because they don't have a job" are missing the point. While although it is evident that she found her calling through her career and those around her (upper middle class women with privilege) did the same, her point is for women to challenge themselves and demand more than what is offered. Don't settle for less.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


39 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still scaring the men?, November 27, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Feminine Mystique (Paperback)
If Friedan's book is so outdated, Stalinist, whiney, biased, "middle-class", etc, why can it still provoke such angry (and fairly empty) reviews from other readers? For a book that other reviewers on this site have rejected with such force as meaningless, it can certainly still provoke a mighty argument (and some misogynist comments from a an undoubtedly male Texan customer, too). This book was written at a time when no one said these things, and as such it's a wonderful piece of history which I think is still very interesting and relevant today, if for no other reason than for people my age to look at the women a generation ahead of me and understand better their situation. Although there are moments when the book betrays its publication date, I still think it has much to say-- obviously, if men (and some women, too) still can't read it without becoming angry on the Amazon review board!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Feminine Mystique is Alive Today, June 29, 2006
This review is from: The Feminine Mystique (Paperback)
Thank goodness for Betty Friedan's book. Although occasionally dull and repetitive, the book was overall well-researched and shocking. At the time this book was written, universities were actually reconsidering the value of educating women because so many women were going to become just housewives. Since this book was written, no one has dared suggest such a thing again. In those days, too, housewives had a societal image as somewhat brainless and childlike. These days, housewives are taken much more seriously because all women are taken much more seriously. My aunt was the most talented math student in her freshman college class but she dropped out to get married. After her two daughters were grown and well-educated (one's a neurosurgeon) she started working for her cranky brother in his photo shop. Now's she's waiting for her 60-year old husband, who obviously is not as smart as she is, to get his business off the ground so she can stop supporting him. On the other hand, my mom and her sister, same generation, became lawyers and professors. My mom, as a public defender, has measurably improved the lives of hundreds of poor people in Chicago and she lives a lively intellectual life. As a single mother, she raised me without much difficulty and sent me through college and graduate school, and now my husband and I are always pushing each other to better ourselves and be as interesting as possible. Would my life be possible, and as guilt-free, without Friedan's book? I don't know. All I do know is that never once, in my whole life, did I hear from anyone a suggestion that I should ignore my talents and my strengths to merely support my husband's ambitions. Now, I think, for upper-class women at least, staying home with children is much more of a real choice, not a default choice. Thank you for everything, Betty Friedan!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The first 100 pages are brilliant. Sadly, that's only a fourth of the book, March 3, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Feminine Mystique (Paperback)
When I started reading this book, I was mesmerized and enthusiastic about its arguments and its place in history as a game changer. I believed Frieden when she said that the book was a paradigm shift. The first hundred pages discussed the ways that feminism and gender roles had become ossified by the 60s through the use of popular culture. Women's magazines which depicted women as strong career women in the 1940s began to resort to stories and articles that assumed that women only wanted to be housewives. Women began to feel unfulfilled if they didn't have families by time they were in their early 20s. Never had it been so clear as to why feminism was so needed in the 60s when women had won the right to vote 40 years previously.

The book went on to discuss the women who had fought for those rights throughout the 19th century and how they were either forgotten or dismissed as man haters. Betty Friedan was not just reviving them; she was also laying the groundwork for a tradition of strong women who were not bound by purely domestic concerns.

And then came the chapter on Freud and things started to go downhill. Granted, Freud and pseudo-Freudian thought is ripe for criticism and he certainly do himself any favors with that whole penis envy approach to gender relations, but the author strains to appear respectful when she has nothing but contempt. Granted, Freud is often dismissed out of hand as a sexist creep with mother issues so it's nothing new. Then Friedan attacked Margaret Mead and functionalism and it started to really go off the rails. At a certain point, she went from maintaining that women were becoming limited in their choices to outright saying that women who chose to be housewives were brainwashed.

The anecdotes started coming then. There was a girl who said that she wished that she could be hypnotized to pass a test instead of having to study - which Betty Friedan takes as an increasingly poor work ethic in college girls. Not only is Freud attacked for discussing sex but the Kinsey Report is condemned and then used to bolster her argument about women being more sexually fulfilled when they have had college degrees. Then she returns to college and says that the women are being even more brainwashed.

Just as you don't think the book can get any more ridiculous, she is blaming the feminine mystique for homosexuality (like most critics of Freud, she falls into glib psychoanalysis when it suits her purpose) because women are infantile for becoming housewives and so their infantile sons become homosexual due to their lack of maturity.

Yes, people really thought like this.

Her Marxism starts poking through when she has a chapter to blame advertisers for "manipulating" women into buying household products. She even produces a howler about how Russian children are more emotionally healthy because their mothers work (these are the same Russian children who grew up to flee to America and become hardcore Republicans or voted Putin into office).

Shortly before the end she is comparing marriage to concentration camps. Granted, she's not the first or the last political thinker to use the Holocaust to make a point but it's still a jarring experience.

By the end of the book, your eyes will have been rolling so much that it's a miracle they are still in your head.

Anyhow, the first 100 pages of this book are penetrating, insightful and some of the most important discourses on gender roles in the 20th century. Sadly, the last 300 pages are boring, repetitive, homophobic, needlessly vitriolic and outright ridiculous. By the time you get to the epilogues where she is either talking about her grandchildren (because that matters) or pointing out that NOW got more radical than she would have liked, hopefully you have been skimming.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


22 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless and engaging, February 4, 2006
By 
This review is from: The Feminine Mystique (Paperback)
It's nice to know that more than half of this country's population is considered a "special interest group" by too many politicians.

Betty Friedan broke a *big* boundary in the early-1960's with "The Feminine Mystique" by asking women to want more out of life than what was already planned for them as little girls: Marriage, babies, and cooking.

The feminist movement that Friedan unofficially founded is, for all intents and purposes, dead today. Too many young women are so hooked on the notion that they need males to define who they are (pop "culture" not helping the cause one bit). I saw it with people my own age: Many of my classmates married right out of high school (alot of them already had kids by graduation) and too many of those marriages have fallen, or are in the midst of falling, apart.

It's the main reason why more than half of marriages end in divorce today and why people stick in unhappy and/or unhealthy relationships: We're conditioned from little children that something was wrong with you if you weren't seeing someone and, to this day, nosy people have the nerve to ask why you aren't married at 20 years old.

Except for the progressive parent, hardly any child is told to be comfortable with and love themselves before getting in a relationship. I feel that if more people did more things before they were married and/or had children, or if they realized that there is absolutely nothing wrong with not wanting to get married or have children, there would be less dysfunctional and abused children walking around and less of a divorce rate.

Betty Friedan's writing is as powerful today as it was then. "The Feminine Mystique" is writing at its best and most thought provoking.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 211 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

The Feminine Mystique
The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan (Paperback - September 17, 2001)
Used & New from: $2.99
Add to wishlist See buying options
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.