The Feminine Mystique Questions and Answers
by Betty Friedan

The Feminine Mystique book cover
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Why is The Feminine Mystique still important and affecting today's society?

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Dolly Doyle eNotes educator | Certified Educator


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The Feminine Mystique is an instrumental text of the second-wave feminist movement. Author Betty Freidan interviewed American housewives about their lack of satisfaction with society's limited roles for women. The titular "feminine mystique" refers to the idealized view of women as domestic angels and mothers, a role which does not allow them freedom of action outside of their home or marriage. Freidan calls for women to reject these limitations and find their own modes of satisfaction outside of the wife-mother role.

The book's description of this widespread existential dissatisfaction inspired a great deal of middle class American women to re-examine their lives. It took what had often been a very academic topic and put it into layman's terms for the masses.

The book still has an impact on modern society, as women have stronger presences in the workplace and the pressure to live as housewives has lessened in American culture. It is generally accepted that women don't need to have children or get married to lead fulfilling lives.

However, modern readers have leveled criticisms against the book for only focusing on middle class, white, heterosexual women and for its biased statements against LGBT women, which have dated the text.

Regardless, its influence is still being felt in American culture of the twenty-first century.

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Robert C. Evans eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The Feminine Mystique, by Betty Friedan, was one of the most important and influential texts of feminism in the 1960s. It was and is important because it helped encourage so many women, during that time and later, to re-examine their lives and their social roles. Since feminism has been one of the most influential social movements of the last fifty years, Friedan's book helped fundamentally change life in the United States during this period.

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