She married Carl Friedan in 1947, and worked as a freelance writer while raising their three children.
Friedan began to feel repressed in her role as a housewife and decided to send out questionnaires to her Smith classmates.
Although there has been recent criticism of Betty Friedan's book The Feminine Mystique, there is no doubt, even in the minds of her harshest critics, that her book had such a profound impact on the female population during the 1960s that it has been credited with initiating the second wave of feminism in the United States.
In order to better comprehend how The Feminine Mystique had such a profound impact on women of that era, it is important to understand who the mid-twentieth-century American woman was.
She lived in a world that was completely dominated by men, in the home, in the workplace, and in the field of publishing.
Yet, she had the confidence to compose her work with the highest literary skill that she was capable of and to write about what she knew best—women's daily lives and routines of the 1950s, the same topic that Friedan addresses. Friedan's examples support her thesis, but Paley's characters offer background color.
I want to explore some of the twists and turns of this unexpected structure of feminist narrative, and how it is related to Friedan's conceptions of subjectivity, femininity and the American nation.
In particular, I am interested in the links that are made between femininity, in Friedan's sense, and the impact of consumerism, and in how these links impinge upon the form of Friedan's argument.
The genealogy of Friedan's particular ‘problem’ goes something like this.
Not long ago, in the time of our grandmothers, strong ‘pioneer’ women got...