Tuesday, February 19, 2013
50 years ago: Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique was published on February 19, 1963. The revolutionary and influential book originated in Friedan’s 15th-reunion survey of her Smith College classmates in 1957, in which she identified "the problem that has no name": many women were unhappy with their lives as housewives, limited in their possibilities, wasting their talent and potential. Friedan objected to 1960s mainstream media images that fostered the expectation that women in post-War America, amid modern appliances, should be naturally fulfilled in the roles of housewives and mothers (i.e., the “mystique”). Though the book focused on suburban, upper middle-class women, it is credited with launching the large-scale “second-wave” (post-war) feminism that addressed sexuality, family, the workplace, reproductive rights and many de facto and legal inequalities. Pictured: the first edition.