Context

(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

This was a book that had to be written. Chafing under a limited vision of what they could and should be, American middle-class women were bound to explode in frustration. Friedan’s book named the unnamed source of their dissatisfaction, analyzed it, and made sense of where it came from, identifying it as a social phenomenon rather than a manifestation of natural womanhood. This analysis gave them a glimpse of a way out, providing the vehicle they needed.

Thousands of women saw themselves in the pages of this book. The phenomenon named by Friedan was real; it was a social force that arose, as she says, both out of the experiences of World War II and out of fears of the gains women had been making since the feminist...

(The entire section is 458 words.)