The Feminine Mystique challenges the prevailing patriarchal ideology that structured American society in the postwar period. Betty Friedan described the frustration of American women whose own ambitions were sacrificed for the benefit of their families.
Friedan's book sparked a feminist revolution against the domestic roles that prevented women from pursuing talents outside the home. The sense of entrapment that Friedan described resonated with many women who felt that their ambitions surpassed the confinement of the domestic sphere. Friedan described the psychological problems that arose when women confronted the myth of domesticity: while the media touted the satisfaction of putting one's focus and energies into the home, many women discovered that family life was not as fulfilling as it was supposed to be.
Opponents of Friedan claimed that her solution of having women work outside the home created the myth of self-realization in the workplace. Some critics pointed out that the suburban housewife characterized in Friedan's book did not take into account the lives of women from the lower classes. Surely the women who found satisfaction within the sphere of the home (and the men who enjoyed having them there to care for the family and the home) would have felt threatened by Friedan's angry tone and her depiction of women's traditional roles as unfulfilling and stifling.