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The Feminine Mystique

by Betty Friedan

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Why did women, as noted by Betty Friedan, "go home again" in the 1950s?

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In Friedan's mind, this is the most important element regarding what it means to be a woman.  For Friedan, the "feminine mystique" involves a coordinated and deliberate attempt for men in the position of power to ensure that women do in fact "go home again" after being out in the workforce for so long.  Friedan makes it clear that the condition of women in the 1930s and 1940s was one in which autonomy of women was understood.  Yet, the post- war period was one in which women were conditioned through media and social trends to embrace the status of "Occupation:  Housewife."  For Friedan, this becomes the essence of the "feminine mystique."  It involves unraveling much of why women are conditioned to be who they are and why they are forced to accept a standard that is externally imposed by men.  The examination of what images are sent to women in the mass media is just a part of this process.  For Friedan, being able to explore why women "went home again" is part of uncovering the process of relegation and marginalization that is such a part of what it means to be a women in post- World War II America.  The ability to illuminate the premeditated and coordinated agenda of men in the position of power to silence women into a position of subservience without choice is a major reason why women "went home again" after being so much a part of the workplace and workforce in the period before the war.

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