A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s

By Stephanie Coontz

In 1963, Betty Friedan unleashed a typhoon of controversy together with her bestselling ebook, The female Mystique. ladies wrote to her via the loads to claim that the publication had reworked, even stored, their lives. approximately part a century later, many girls nonetheless remember the place they have been and what they have been doing after they first learn the publication. In A unusual Stirring, renowned historian of girls and marriage Stephanie Coontz strips away the myths, analyzing what The female Mystique truly acknowledged, and which teams of ladies have been affected. Coontz takes us again to the early Nineteen Sixties – the age of Mad males – while the sexual revolution used to be slightly nascent, center classification other halves stayed at domestic, and husbands retained felony regulate over nearly each element of family members lifestyles. according to large examine within the magazines and pop culture of the Nineteen Forties, Fifties, and early Sixties, in addition to interviews with men and women who learn The female Mystique almost immediately after its booklet, A unusual Stirring brilliantly illuminates how Friedan’s ebook emboldened a iteration of ladies to gain that their boredom and dissatisfaction stemmed from political injustice instead of own weakness.

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To the level that girls believed this to effectively describe “everyone else,” they felt by myself and insufficient. So whilst a housewife did not reach the happy contentment that every one her opposite numbers supposedly loved, Friedan acknowledged, she blamed herself—or probably her husband: “If a girl had an issue within the 1950’s and 1960’s, she knew that whatever needs to be mistaken together with her marriage, or with herself.... She used to be so ashamed to confess her dissatisfaction that she by no means knew what number different ladies shared it.

Or they went again below huge, immense strain from everybody, yet spent the subsequent years in their lives with their noses pressed opposed to the proverbial glass—looking in at a global that they might by no means join. ” 7 African-American ladies, Working-Class ladies, and the female Mystique many folks think THAT AFRICAN-AMERICAN AND WHITE WORKING-CLASS ladies didn't relate to Friedan’s arguments within the female Mystique simply because so much of them already labored open air the house because of monetary necessity and might have most well liked to be full-time housewives.

I didn't believe accountable approximately working,” she recollects. “It have been a need in my existence for the reason that I did babysitting while i used to be fourteen. ” yet as soon as she went into company along with her husband, she used to be wondered and angered incidentally males handled her. frequently, while she requested a revenues rep a question, he could respond to her husband. whilst her husband introduced domestic the female Mystique, her response was once “At final, a reputation for a state of affairs! ” while Barbara Bergmann graduated from Cornell college in 1948, her mom requested, “How come you’ve come again with no husband?

My mom recalled that “it was once a great time to maintain your head down. there has been lots to do getting resettled as a kin rather than attempting to tackle McCarthyism, and in the beginning it used to be a full-time activity simply because there have been nonetheless such a lot of scarcities. steadily, we obtained issues that were nearly most unlikely to get for thus many years—from young ones like chocolates and stockings to special ones like a house and vehicle. Then I had one other baby. earlier than I knew it, it used to be the center of the Nineteen Fifties and every thing I’d performed and inspiration within the overdue Thirties and through the struggle appeared like one other international.

6 the cost of Privilege: Middle-Class ladies and the female Mystique ONE MONTH AFTER the female MYSTIQUE was once released, FRIEDAN obtained a letter from Gerda Lerner, a civil rights activist with a heritage in left-wing politics who later turned a pioneer in women’s heritage. Lerner congratulated Friedan on a “splendid . . . activity which desperately wanted doing. ” yet she expressed predicament that Friedan had addressed herself “solely to the issues of heart type, college-educated girls. ” Lerner reminded Friedan that “working girls, particularly Negro ladies, hard work not just less than the risks imposed via the female mystique, yet below the extra urgent negative aspects of financial discrimination,” and recommended that during addition to Friedan’s proposals for increasing women’s entry to raised schooling, such girls wanted baby care facilities and maternity advantages.

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