The Feminine Mystique Questions and Answers
by Betty Friedan

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Why does Friedan believe that women in America in the 1950s and early 60s, despite the era's prosperity and stability, are fundamentally unhappy?

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For Friedan, the answer is a complex one.  An aspect of it lies in the depiction of women in the media.  Friedan makes the argument that there was a fundamental difference in how women were depicted in the 1930s and 1940s as opposed to the time period afterwards.  She uses the example of the "pioneering woman" that dominated media images in the 1930s.  Friedan also employs the example of published fiction such as "Sarah and the Seaplane" in which a female protagonist finds happiness through her own autonomy.  Friedan makes the argument that part of the reason for such a depiction was that the war...

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