Why is there a negative connotation associated with feminism?

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mizzwillie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Betty Friedan's book The Feminine Mystique was published in 1963, the ideas it contained were explosive in American society.  After World War II, women were encouraged to stay home and be mothers, and to only have a job if necessary while never having a career.  Friedan's book challenges all those assumptions about what women should be.  The debate, which is still in place today if you look at some of the present political candidates' positions, really prefers that men have positions of power and responsibility while women should prefer to be in lesser positions.  I think the feminist movement at the beginning felt strident to many people as Friedan was quite outspoken in her beliefs.  Many of the ideas challenged the status quo and would require changes many in society did not want to make.  Gloria Steinem took up the standard and was often publicly vilified because of it.  The saying "All men are created equal" really meant men, but women were told the word men was all inclusive meaning both men and women.  If the words are changed to "All women are created equal" and men told the word is all inclusive,  the words are ridiculed.  The equal rights amendment to the constitution did not pass which frustrated many feminists who were outspoken in their beliefs.  All of this leads to the negative  connotation to the word "feminism" which many equated with the word "radical."

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The Feminine Mystique

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