October 2, 2012
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In 1957 Betty Friedan conducted a survey of her Smith College class for their 15th anniversary reunion in 1957. She discovered that these women were living life styles that conformed to the current American feminine ideal. They were housewives, totally independent of the demands of the workplace. They had children. Yet many confessed to being unhappy despite living in circumstances of material wealth and marital stability. Friedan went on to interview many other housewives and found that while they often identified the same vague unhappiness, many could not explain why they were unhappy. In the first chapter of ‘The Feminine Mystique’ Friedan calls this ‘the problem with no name’ which ‘lay buried, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American women’.
I think it’s the meat of this book that makes it so interesting, rather than Friedan’s own background, so shall we get right into analysing it? After reading the first chapter of ‘The Feminine Mystique’, what do you think Friedan identified as the cause of ‘the problem with no name’? And what does she think has made women bury this problem?