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The Feminine Mystique At 50

The Feminine Mystique at 50. We’ll talk with women about the book, Betty Friedan, what’s changed, what hasn’t, and women now.

A first edition of Betty Friedan’s “Feminine Mystique.” (Bauman Rare Books)

A first edition of Betty Friedan’s “Feminine Mystique.” (Bauman Rare Books)

Fifty years ago this week, February, 1963, the world first read Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. It was a cry of rage about how smart, educated American women were relegated to the home and high heels and buying laundry detergent. Cut out of America’s realms of power and professional life.

It seized a moment and a big problem. Became a huge bestseller. Broke open a giant conversation on sexism and feminism. Now we’re fifty years on.

This hour, On Point: Sandy Banks and Noreen Malone on The Feminine Mystique at fifty, and where women stand now.

-Tom Ashbrook


Noreen Malone, staff writer at the New Republic. (@noreenmalone)

Sandy Banks, columnist at the Los Angeles Times.

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times “Indeed, some cracking its spine for the first time — as more than one commentator on the 50th anniversary has sheepishly confessed to doing — may be surprised at just how scholarly the book is. Friedan, who claimed she gave up a prestigious Ph.D. fellowship in psychology after a boyfriend said it would threaten their relationship, spent years in the New York Public Library, digging as deeply into the theories of Freud, Margaret Mead, A. H. Maslow and David Riesman as into the women’s magazines she blasted for perpetuating the mythology of the ‘happy housewife.’”

Slate “What struck me most about The Feminine Mystique is how very radical it is. I mean, Friedan compares, at chapter length, the plight of women stuck at home with their kids to concentration camp victims. Sure, I’ve never had to sit alone with a mop and a crying baby and no Internet (side question: Was the problem that had no name possibly the lack of Wi-Fi?), but that seems more than a bit extreme to me. In fact, as much as I found myself cheering at the stirring introduction and conclusion, for much of the middle of the book, I was muttering and angrily underlining what I found to be particularly judgmental passages.”

Huffington Post “February 19, 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Betty Friedan’s groundbreaking book The Feminine Mystique — a book that has undisputedly changed the lives of countless women and society as a whole. Coupled with the 1972 passage of Title IX, the law which prohibited “discrimination against girls and women in federally funded education, including in athletic programs” (Feminist Majority Foundation, 2012), there was a growing sense that women were well on their way to equality with men.”

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  • 1Brett1

    What would Lincoln think about The Feminine Mystique?

    …I suppose some pseudo-clever neocon will eventually make the comment: “looks like On Point has stacked the panel with only women in a lopsided bias, once again, and with MY tax dollars!!!” Come on, you know you want to comment…maybe you’re too sissified to comment? 

    • JobExperience

       Brett, Quit putting words in Gregg’s mouth!

      Lincoln had problems with his wife, but not because she was a feminist.

      • 1Brett1

        Quit putting words in my mouth to put in Gregg’s mouth! …He must learn to forage on his own!

    • Ellen Dibble

      Maybe the OnPoint staff is confident Tom can represent the male side of this?

      • 1Brett1

        Well, Tom, superiority, and charitable, thoughtful paternalism will all certainly pull us through!  

    • hennorama

      1Brett1 -  :-)

      One can imagine another male radio talk show host Rushing to have an all-male discussion on The Feminine Mystique, à la last February’s  House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing titled “Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?”

      Not a single woman was called as a witness on the first day of the panel.  Democrats had been told they could have only a single witness.  They selected Sandra Fluke to discuss the effects of losing contraceptive coverage.  Republican  Chairman Darrell Issa rejected her as “not qualified” and held the initial hearing with no female witnesses.

      We all know the word Rush “OxyMoron” Limbaugh subsequently used to repeatedly malign Ms. Fluke.

      • Gregg Smith

        “I love the women’s movement, especially from behind” -Rush

        The Sandra Fluke issue had zip, zero, nada to do with women’s issues. Your hate will not let you see that. The liberal tactic of “by any means necessary” turned the debate upside down. I would not have called her a slut, I would have stuck with selfish and intolerant.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          “Selfish” is getting the insurance coverage she paid for. Nice to hear.

          • Gregg Smith

            Selfish is expecting someone to buy her a rubber. Intolerant is requiring Catholics to ignore their tenets.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            Try again. You have no familiarity with her statement.

            And please, tell women everywhere that some religious wingnut has decided not only that women don’t get the insurance coverage they’ve paid for, but you’ve decided that the ne plus ultra of their “choices” for birth control is a condom. Tell women that rather than The Pill, you think “women want condoms”. Because you’ve already lost your argument if you’re telling them you want a seat in the exam room with their doctor.

          • Gregg Smith

            Alrighty then.

          • jimino

            I’ll believe it is an issue of religious conviction (rather than control or ??) when the Catholic Church directs from the pulpit that every single person that does not fully accept and follow its “tenets” leave the church and stop contributing their time and money.

          • Gregg Smith

            It was in a debate that George Stephanopoulos (undoubtably under orders) brought up the notion of Republicans restricting access to contraception. Romney was dumbfounded. The idea wasn’t on anyone’s radar. The entire issue was created as a way to bash Republicans. Rush played right into their hands.

            Either way the Fluke event had nothing to do with women’s issues. 

        • hennorama

          Apparently it’s time for another Gregg Smith “I don’t care what hennorama thinks” update.
          Total number of times Smith has responded directly to my posts since Dec. 18, 2012:   59
          On Dec. 18, 2012, Smith typed as a reply to me “I don’t care what you think…”  This is the day I told him I would no longer respond to his posts, and declared a  “unilaterally imposed temporary cessation of hostilities.”
          Then last month, again as a reply to me, he typed “No one cares what you think.”
          I find it interesting for someone who proclaims “I don’t care what [hennorama] think[s]” to not only care enough to read my posts, but also to directly respond to them.  Given that none of the posts Smith commented on were directed to him, it’s unclear if this is irony, contradiction, paradox, or perhaps even obsession. 
          This is why I’ve kept track of these comments – first as a sort of curiosity, but then as it continued it turned into a sort of a “WTF?” phenomenon.
          In addition to direct responses, Smith has also referred to “hennorama” in other posts at least 6 times in this period.  I discovered this rather odd phenomenon by reading the comments of others that obliquely mentioned my moniker, then discovering that these posters were responding to Smith.  The actual total is likely higher, as I generally click the handy [Collapse thread] minus sign whenever I see a post from Smith.  No doubt I’ve missed some pithy discussions as a result, but it’s a “price” I’m willing to pay.
          Posting the list of these comments seems unnecessary, as the large number of posts alone makes the point.  Plus I see no point in making Smith look even more foolish than he himself has done.

          • Gregg Smith

            I try not to get personal but you are weirder than hell… with all due respect. You keep track of my past post and number my replies and somehow think that proves something? Your obsessed. I haven’t seen this since Ultrax. And this silly little non reply game is just funny.

            In addition you are way too sensitive to understand context so your entire premise is whacked. You wrote: “Greg – given that you are so easily riled…” to which I replied, “I don’t care what you think. I’m not riled.” 

            And somehow you got that I don’t care enough about diverse opinions to bother reading them!? So you start a file on me watching my every move, take your ball and go home. That’s whacky. Clearly I was saying I don’t care if you think I was riled.

            Now, regarding your name coming up, first join the club. Scroll down and you’ll see mine evoked for no reason. It happens all the time. I remember giving you a “like” for my challenge so I had to mention your name. I also labeled you as the most disingenuous commenter which I stand by. It’s clear to me you hold ideology over truth while pretending to be objective, you’re anything but. In that post I was deliberately (and out of character) sticking my fingers in people’s eyes to make my point. Other than that I am quite sure if I ever mentioned you by name it was not personal or mean spirited as is usually the case when my name is mentioned out of the blue. It’s not my nature.

            However, I do not like you very much. I can’t say that about many of the commenters here, maybe 2 or 3. I don’t like your tactics nor your condescension. That does not mean I refuse to read your comments. If you say something I disagree with or present false, out of context information then I will respond. If you build an argument on a false premise, ditto. I am quite happy to reply without rebuttal and have the last word. If you want to reply then I’ll defend anything I write and do it civilly. That’s what I do, debate the issues. It’s not personal.

            So to clarify, I don’t care what you or anyone thinks of me or thinks I think. I could not care less. I do care about the truth and will not let you or anyone distort it. That requires me to read comments.

            Regarding your last sentence, I’ll dig up an oldie that I have long forgotten but you kept meticulous track of and provided the link for: ” I don’t care a wit about any perceived ‘victory’ or not on some stupid blog.” It’s sad you have to puff yourself up so.

          • hennorama

            Gregg Smith – Without dissecting your comment, I’ll use an analogy.

            Imagine a cocktail party. There have been conversations involving several people. Two individuals (let’s call them H & GS) have gotten into some heated in-depth discussions, and as a result, H declares an inability to stop being snarky, sarcastic, and smug, says so to GS directly, and in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear, then walks away.

            H gets involved in other conversations. Over the next hour or so, GS butts into these conversations a total of 59 times. All along H ignores GS, yet GS apparently doesn’t get the message. H points this out to GS, to no avail. GS continues these unsolicited comments despite H’s back being constantly turned to GS.

            To be as clear as possible:

            Gregg Smith – I have not been and will not be commenting on your posts, either directly or indirectly, until further notice. Any comments you make to me are unwelcome. Please stop. This forum allows you to make comments that are not direct responses to my posts. If you must comment on my remarks, please find a way to express yourself in a way that does not involve me directly.

          • Gregg Smith

            I don’t have a hostile bone in my body. I don’t butt in, I contribute civilly and on topic. I remember you actually defending me at one point. I have not changed, I just called you out for what you are after much discussion to form my opinion. Sorry you went all to pieces because of it. You wouldn’t last a minute in my shoes, get a spine.

            This is not your blog. I don’t play by your rules. I will reply to whomever I please, whenever I please and that includes to you.  Play whatever silly games you want. It’s not about you.

  • Gregg Smith

    And now we hand them an M1 and send them to the front lines. Go figure.

    • Ray in VT

      It’s bizarre how many men think that they can best legislate and regulate a woman’s reproductive system.

      • Gregg Smith

        It’s bizarre to assume anyone who is pro-life is a Christian male. There are many atheist pro-life women who are Democrats to boot. Stereotyping is never good. It’s also bizarre to frame them as wanting to legislate and regulate the female reproductive system. I’m pro-choice but understand that taking a life is a heavy decision for anyone and that as a society there should be lines drawn somewhere in the continuum. To reduce it all to a bumper-sticker generalization serves no purpose.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          If what you are passes for “pro-choice”, then I pass for “gun nut”.

          Figuring white Christian males are “driving the bus” of telling women what to do with their ovaries isn’t a 100% bet. But it’s a damn better bet than the needle-threading you go through to find those few athiest pro-lifers. Y’know, the ones who are proud to stand with the wingut right-wing religious radicals. There’s such a long list of them.

        • Ray in VT

          It would be bizarre to assume that, and I’m glad that I don’t.  I’m sure that there are plenty of pro-life Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Wiccans, etc.

          I think that abortion is a very difficult position, and I think that the last thing that women contemplating such a course of action needs is to be compelled to have the freedom to listen to an ultrasound, submit to an invasive probe or be compelled to speak to a counselor who pushes other options.

          I also think that lines need to be drawn, and science has made those lines harder, but it it certainly somewhere further along than attempts to enshrine a fertilized egg with full human rights or attempting to drive all providers out of a state.

          I don’t know, I think that the bumper sticker slogan “my body, my choice” is a pretty good one.  Oversimplified?  Yes?  But still very useful.

          • Gregg Smith

            I really think the abortion debate is separate from the topic at hand. I find it hard to believe that your out of the blue comment had no intended political implications. I actually thought I raise a good point and had hoped for some feedback on it.

            I understand there is no solution to what I’m about to write. What about the male role? It is impossible for a woman to have an abortion without a man. Is anyone suggesting a bumper-sticker that reads: “My sperm, my choice”? I think “over-simplified” is an understatement.

          • sickofthechit

             I have always felt the decision should be 50.00000000000000000000000000000000000001% the womans and 49.99999999999999999999999999999999999999% the mans.

          • Ray in VT

            I think that it is somewhat separate, but it is related.  It is about the right or the ability of a woman to control her own body and/or destiny.

            That other issue is also tricky.  I’m reluctant to assign any ability for anyone to have a veto over a woman’s right to choose, but it is difficult.  What if it is a husband, or a boyfriend, or a family member, or a rapist.

            Especially the last one is hard to touch.  This article says that in 31 states rapists can have custody or visitation rights:


          • Gregg Smith

            I agree it’s related, I should clarify. I’m speaking in general and not accusing you of anything. 

            The abortion issue encompasses so much more than just the woman’s right to control her own body. I don’t compare the rolls but I put much stock in the notion it takes two to tango. Men who impregnate women and do not accept the responsibility of the result disgust me. Abortion is a men’s issue too. There are religious factors, social factors and ethical factors. We do tell women what they can and can’t do with their body. Right or wrong, as a society we say they can’t sell sex, ingest certain drugs or sell their kidney on ebay. In some States the murder of a pregnant woman results in two murder charges.

            Personally, I think it’s insulting to women to imply women’s issues begin and end with abortion and I think characterization is common.

            Again, I’m not accusing you of that. I do wonder if you agree.

          • Ray in VT

            I agree that there are far more issues that are important to women and women’s rights than abortion, but that one does get a lot of attention, perhaps in part because the feelings on both sides are so important, but also, perhaps, because that right to choose is being attacked from so many angles these days.  I just read today that two more states are looking at passing more restrictive laws in that area.

            I think that access to contraceptives was once a hotly contested issue, but that’s been largely settled in the U.S.  I think that equal access to educational opportunities was once an issue, but I think that we’re doing well there.  In some respects equal opportunities to employment are still issues in some fields, although some of those attitudes have been changing in recent years, especially as the old guard moves off the stage.

            I think that there’s still a ways to go regarding social attitudes regarding the abilities of women to perform certain jobs, as well as ideas regarding the proper role of women.  I find it uncomfortable that the Southern Baptist Convention in 1998 said that women must submit to their husbands, but that’s their deal.  I also think that there are a lot of unfortunate double standards that women have to contend with.  For instance, if a man is pushy and abrasive, then he may be labelled a go-getter, but a woman gets called a female dog.  Again, I think that some of that is changing with the passing of generations.  I certainly think that we’ve come a long way towards some sort of social equality between the sexes over the past 50 years.  Is there more work to be done?  Sure, but progress has been made.  Hopefully my daughter won’t have to deal with some of the issues that her grandmothers dealt with back in the day.

          • Gregg Smith

            Thanks Ray, I have no real disagreement. I’ll only add that my wife is pushy and aggressive as hell. I love her anyway.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            “Separate from the topic at hand”.

            Submitted without comment.

        • J__o__h__n

          “There are many atheist pro-life women who are Democrats” — I doubt it.

          • Ray in VT

            There are probably at least a few.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            I am not as charitable as you are on this. “A few” doesn’t matter except if a Greggg is looking for the “bipartisan cover”.

            “A few” of any minority matters not, as long as their rights aren’t being trampled. And I submit that pro-life Democratic women’s rights don’t extend to, say, the “pro lifers’” efforts in systematically denying Plan B, shutting down the last womens’ health clinics in MS, and kowtowing to Catholic figureheads in allowing the insurance women have earned to to not be used for healthcare.

            Remember, we’re dealing with a self-professed athiest who somehow can barely find a bad thing to say about how the USCCB and the “Talibangelicals” use the government to push their religious values on non-believing women.

          • Gregg Smith

            I am not an atheist and never said I was. I have never said squat about the USCCB. Please don’t tell me what I think.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            Sorry if I called you an athiest when you’re an agnostic. Boo hoo.

            It doesn’t matter. You’ve followed every single dictum all the right-wing shitestormers have parrotted about “Wahhwahhwahh, the religious liberty of the Catholic businesses competing in the marketplace of non-churches”.

            I’m not saying it’s not coincidental. But your freely arrived-at ideas really jibe with theirs to a strange extent.

          • Gregg Smith

            I just like the Constitution, that’s all. It doesn’t say anything about business or competing. It just guarantees religious freedoms.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            You’ve lost this one.

          • Gregg Smith

            I looked it up, the Constitution says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof unless you start a business then you have no religious freedom. I’m so embarrassed.

    • nj_v2

      It’s bizarre how Greggg takes comments out of context, embellishes them with things that aren’t there (Judo), then uses that to make specious comparisons between situations with completely different contexts.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        I thought judo (or is it jujitsu I’m thinking about) uses an opponent’s strenght against the opponent. I’d allegorize Gregg to practicing the martial art which teaches one to use non-sequitors.

      • Gregg Smith

        There are just so many Colorado Democrats making anti-women comments I get them confused. My sincerest apologies.


  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Times have changed – we now have millions of households where women are not only breadwinners but the primary breadwinners – and then are still expected to be primary child raisers, housecleaners, cooks, etc.

    But even after taking the lead in pretty much everything they are relegated to secondary status. That has not changed nearly as much.

  • on_2nd_thought

    We have had many changes in “opportunities” for women (jobs, sports, politics–only to a certain level) however fundamentally the underlying misogyny of our society has not. Case in point is the recent show you did on “Slut Shaming”: boys brag about their sexual conquests and revile the very girls they have “conquered.”  Double standards are alive and well. So is rape and domestic violence. How about a show on the deep well of hatred toward women and femininity? It’s a puzzle I don’t understand.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

       I remember being an Air Force brat in the 70′s – even though “serving your country” was held in very high regard, women serving were denigrated constantly as being incompetent, frigid, sluts and dykes – and all at the same time.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I was struck by a comment  I heard from I believe a historian a few days ago, saying that after World War II, it was a national necessity to persuade women of the moral importance of being a homemaker, women who had held the jobs vacated by men who had gone to war, who had been drafted.  I recall this, how a woman who had to work was considered a failure for not having a husband who could support her at home.  It was a shaming that didn’t need to be articulated.  In poor families, both parents worked, and grandparents did the childcare.  If a woman had an education, she could hold reasonable conversation with an educated and successful spouse.   Possibly many a gaggle of toddlers reduced the IQ of their mothers till those educations ceased to be meaningful, or those educations effectively disconnected the moms from the toddlers, making involvement with them seem trivial.
        I bring this up because I think it’s important — to me anyway — to understand the position of women in Africa, the Middle East, in southern and southeast Asia.  I would divide the issue in two, one having to do with familial honor, sexual purity, the role of romance in a woman’s life, or a man’s; and secondly, the economic importance of women, their legal situation, and how that might vary from the formal to the actual.  
       Do Middle Eastern women look to America for a pathway?  Or to British women?…

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      That national necessity falls into a suspect pattern of so many kinds of “women’s work” being made into “honorable callings” so women can be coaxed into keeping doing them for peanuts and the rest of society can point to “tradition, that’s why”. But the only trad male profession that seems to come with a vow of poverty is becoming a man of the cloth.

      See nurse v. doctor, teacher (thru HS) v. professor (college).

      (Your first comment on postwar “back to the home” campaign dovetails with The Onion headlined about 1942: “American men go off to fight; women, Negroes temporarily useful”)

      • JobExperience

        Honorable callings without the commensurate compensation…. that’s the rub. You can always tell opinion-maker bullshit when they neglect to provide the resources. (You’ve outdone yourself with such an excellent comment Ellen. You deserve to be a paid columnist.)

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          I’ll go you one further: The evening news will never say “movie mogul” or “real estate baron” or “Wall St arbitrageur” are honorable callings. Society doesn’t care about limiting how much those folks make.

          The last thing I want anyone in the media to do is decide that my profession, the thing I do for actual money, is an “honorable calling”. That’s when I grasp my paycheck with two hands until my knuckles turn white.

          I would much rather my professional peers and myself be considered “thieving rat bastards”, because nobody would try to justify reducing my take-home pay while simultaneously feeling warm inside about how they’re doing anything on my behalf.

    • Gregg Smith

      The stereotypes you describe are articulated by men and could not be more wrong. To me the problems arise when a woman’s life is predetermined for her. The same is true for the poor or minorities. 

      I think it should be pointed out that the traditional role of women is noble. It’s every bit as challenging and difficult (in fact more so) than the traditional male role. It is the most important job there can possibly be. In some ways, it seems to me, the book encouraged women to accept the false premise imposed on them by men. In abandoning the traditional roles, women first had to tacitly agree with the stereotypes you describe.

      It has come full circle. Now many women are realizing the virtues of rearing a family over a career. A career in the workplace in lieu of children has left many women unfulfilled too. The maternal instinct is strong and real. IMHO there is no one answer but any answer must begin with the premise that no one is shackled to their stereotype. 

      • Ellen Dibble

        Gregg, women had to agree with the stereotype in certain spheres, such as where I grew up.  I think the mothers in some cases couldn’t want their daughters to have the kind of social participation (in jobs and so forth) that they had been deprived of.  I know that’s not what you meant about “had to agree.”  You meant there was a choice to skip out of it.  Not much of a choice, though, for many.  
            I do think that “traditional” has limited meaning.  My understanding is that before the industrial age, women were far less the “bird in a golden cage,” and far more equal, if not in political and legal terms, at least in the family.  And I think in the future, women will be living well past their childbearing years, and much of couplehood will extend for decades past the years with a nest full of “little ones.”

        • Gregg Smith

          Yes, you got my drift and I agree with you. I used the word “tacitly” because it is not so cut and dried. 

          I was in Vallalodid Mexico last week and saw many 12 year old mothers. It struck me as incredibly sad but maybe that’s my American perspective. 

    • hennorama

      Ellen Dibble – as to the “economic importance of women” issues you raise – micro-finance has succeeded as a means to reduce poverty and to empower women in patriarchal societies.  Here are just a few of the sites that facilitate micro loans, and their views on the empowering women:




      The SBA has a microloan program in the US, although they obviously can’t focus on women:


  • Ray in VT

    It was tragic what opportunities were denied to women prior to the feminist movement.  The Women Airforce Service Pilots ferried almost, if not every, plane flow by the U.S. military during World War II, but after the war the only jobs open to them in the flight industry were as stewardesses.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

    Feminism by accident or design was a financial boom.  They eventually got housewives into the workplace, while the dollar was rapidly de-valuating to arrive at two workers (husband and wife) now working for the price (in real dollars) of one.

    Not done…yet…
    Feminism by accident or design, was a boom for lawyers, as half or even most of these feminists sought divorce, and needless to say, divorce lawyers have a way of squeezing every dollar they can out of a family split up.

    And there’s more…  
    Feminism by accident or design, was a boom for real estate developers, and furniture stores, as all these divorced families required TWO separate household.  Literally tens of millions of extra apartments and homes needed in just a few decades because of divorce.

    All of this happening while home prices where going through the roof, increasing from 30% of household income to over 50%.

    Feminism by accident or design ,has defused the strength of the family, and deprived parental supervision of the children, and we can all see the results of this at places like Newtown CN.

    The USA, and Europe to a lesser extent, is in serious trouble today because of feminism.

    I tend to think it was designed so.

    • geraldfnord

      By whom? —the Illuminati, the Jesuits, the Jews, the Bolschewiks…?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

        By men who feel that their dominance is threatened by equality.

        • geraldfnord

           I was too flip and not clear enough in my comment: I was asking whom the poster thought ‘intended’ the ‘damage’ done to the U.S. and Western Europe—it sounded awfully {Nesta Webster}-ish to me, but then again I think almost all conspiracy theories tell us more about the insides of their holders’ heads than about reality.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      I agree with everything you say here except for the second to last sentence, “The USA, and Europe to a lesser extent, is in serious trouble today because of feminism.”

      The active backlash against women’s rights has done far more damage to families than feminism, itself. That has been my personal experience, at least.

    • nj_v2

      “…defused the strength of the family…”


      So Newtown is the result of feminism?


  • geraldfnord

    Does any credit go here to “The Second Sex”? —I haven’t read the Friedan book, does it mention de Beauvoir’s?

  • http://www.facebook.com/whagist Warren H.

    My question for the panelists is, what is/was the reaction of the men in their lives to the Feminine Mystique? I know it had a great impact of women, but what did men think of it? Did they see the book as a threat to their traditional roles, or as something else?

    • sickofthechit

       How many men have actually read it?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=595452520 Cynthia Rose Osorio Florez

    I was born in 61. The world didn’s magically change 50 years ago. It’s been a slow painful path of evolution-devolution-evolution and it’s [hopefully] is still evolving. I appreciate this topic but hope the honesty, perspective and frankness that Noreen brings to it is not drowned out by a ‘Betty-fest’…[yawn].  My mother worked her whole life and raised 6 children with a husband that worked 2 jobs most of his life. Both were children of turn of the century immigants. Not the bon-bon eating types that originally championed Womans Lib.

  • philisalvic

    The Chicago Sun-Times serialized ‘The Feminine Mystique’ and my mother and I read it together when I came home from my teaching job.  My mother, who only finished high school, then set on a campaign of her own to help college educated women, but taking care of their children, so they could put their education to use. 

  • Johanna Andreoli

    What’s interesting is that 50 years later, I find myself recommending this book to the women I know who are stay at home mothers.  More than one woman I know says they feel they need antidepressants to get through the days and years of deferring their own dreams for the sake of their family. It’s important to recognize the impact of being at work 24 hours a day and the emotional costs of these choices.

  • Trudie

    Now we (women) are expected to do it all…we have to work and be the “perfect wife” and I would like to be able to have one job…expectations are not attainable..

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      The first wave of feminists had the luxury of choice. We, their daughters, are just as trapped as our grandmothers were, but we are double-teamed, now, by the pressures to be all things to all people all of the time. We don’t have the choices our mothers had and I fear that our daughters will fare even worse.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    The only way you balance family and work is having your partner equitably picking up the slack – that’s the part that largely has not happened.

    Women and their roles have greatly changed over the past 50 years. Men’s haven’t.

    • Ray in VT

      It’s hard to strike that balance, and the formula is different for every couple.  My wife and I have fairly traditional roles in our family, but that it due to us examining our respective strengths and playing to them.  My wife has always been of the opinion that feminism gave her the option to have a career, and she is thankful for that, but it isn’t what she would like to do most.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

        The difference is working together as opposed to using “roles” to force your partner to pick up what you don’t want to do.

        • Ray in VT

          Definitely.  There are things that neither my wife nor I like to do, but they need to get done, and we try not overburden the other with such tasks.  Couples very much need to be partners.

    • hennorama

      oldman – men’s roles in relationships (and greater society) have definitely changed, but as you said, perhaps not quite as greatly as the roles of women.  Certainly many men have taken on greater involvement in their children’s lives, housework, grocery shopping and meal prep, and other activities traditionally thought of as “women’s work”.

      Your use of the word “partner”is important, but not all couples view their relationships in that way.  Whether they are married or not, a couple’s view of their relationship is key.  Do they view it as a partnership, a patriarchy or a matriarchy?  Society has influence over these views, but it ultimately comes down to how the couple themselves feel.

      Their view of their relationship will determine various roles and the distribution of “who does what.”  All three types of relationships are valid, but the relationship’s ultimate success or failure often depends on how well those involved discuss and communicate each of their expectations, and most importantly, come to some level of agreement about said expectations.

      If one party expects the other to shoulder more of the housework, for example, but does not clearly communicate this expectation and get some level of agreement, frustration and resentment will result.  Without this communication and agreement, it’s unreasonable to hold the other person to account if they behave differently.  Unfortunately, this is more common than not.

      These silent expectations often result in disappointment and failed relationships.  Communication and agreement are of paramount importance to success, regardless of the type of relationship, or the “division of labor”.

  • Johanna Andreoli

    I would add, that at times, for financial reasons, it is not a choice and often the burden falls on women even today.

  • sickofthechit

    I question the 78 cents on the dollar figure.  Does it take into account all differences in the various jobs?  Or is it based on average wages and does not consider all aspects of education, experience or effort? charles a. bowsher

  • sickofthechit

    The women are up for this, many men are still not there and it will take more generations to get to a better balance.

  • LisainNoH

    As a 40 year old woman, born a generation or two after the Femine Mystique, the main area holding women back is the lack of flexibility in caregiving of children. I recently went back to work outside the home after 6 years of staying home, my husband and I are struggling to balance on the high wire of work/family balance.  Work place schedules and school schedules don’t sync.  It is still looked down upon to leave work to take care of a child, especially for the man.  Add to that today it is nearly impossible financially to raise a family on one-income and the near future additional stress of caring for aging parents puts a tremendous amount of pressure upon couples and families. 

  • David_from_Lowell

    I suppose it’s positive that much of this seems old-fashioned. My wife and I both work, and both juggle dealing with our 5-yr-old and 3-yr-old. Most men I know and work with (seemingly mostly 40 or under), already balance work and family without professional accomodation. I think it’s more of a generational change, and therefore won’t change until the generation for whom the Feminine Mystique was applicable (the Baby Boomers) are no longer the decision makers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2202524 Lindsay Reese

    I am thankful to have the best of both worlds. I completed a PhD in the biological sciences and have a job that allows me to work from home. This gives me time to cook dinner every ngiht, bake bread, and garden.

  • http://twitter.com/_sequoia Sequoia M.

    The way Tom laughed when he said some women “need antidepressants to get thru the day” or something to that effect… Not intentional I know, but it was funny timing. :p

  • bacterial_sizzle

    Is wage slavery really preferable to domestic life?  I certainly don’t feel liberated…

    • nj_v2

      Point taken, but wage slavery in the current corporatocracy isn’t gender specific.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        “You know what makes wage slaves, don’t you? Wages.”

        (h/t Groucho)

  • tncanoeguy

    Can anyone have it all?  A man with a marriage and family who is the primary earner may feel tied to that job – he has to bring home the bacon and his job may provide health insurance.  Maybe he would want to do something else, but if you get married and have kids…there you go. 

  • MurielV

    Staying at home to take care of your kids is WORK, and hard work at that.  But it is unpaid and non-valued work.
    Women or men who stay home lose career opportunities because they stay behind in their field and the longer they stay home, the harder it will be to go back into the workforce.  Eventually the stay-at-home parent will feel frustrated for not realizing their earlier career ambitions and expectations.
    It can be partly a choice to stay home.  I personally wanted to take care of my children in their early years, I was finishing a PhD while my husband had a job, so the “choice” was made and quality outside child care was prohibitively expensive.  So, no it is not always fully a choice.
    Society needs to make an effort to make it possible for both parents to have a meaningful job outside the home with serious career prospects while having time to take care of children.  Scandinavian societies do it, why not the US?

  • tncanoeguy

    Ditto to bacterial sizzle

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/CJLCQW6DNXA54BXLSJGU32BW4I mark

    Tom should thank that soldier for her service. I can’t help but think that were a man to call in a say he had sevrved in Iraq that the words “Thanks for your service.” would have been the first words out of Tom’s mouth. Thank you.

    • hennorama

      mark – this is merely anecdotal evidence, so take it for what it’s worth, OK.

      My limited recent experience with ex-servicemembers is that they have mixed reactions to the now almost reflexive “Thank you for your service” remarks.  Some view it as sincere, and other take a more cynical view.  The cynics express considerable disdain, mostly along the lines of “I wasn’t serving YOU [expletive deleted] – I was serving the person next to me in the firefight.”

      I agree with the sentiment of your post, but c’mon now – nobody’s perfect.  Tom Ashbrook’s record of treating others with respect is extensive, so some latitude should be given for a simple oversight, IMO.

  • Kyle

    There is still the expectation from many women that their husbands will out earn them even though in workplace today it is very easy for this to go the other way, especially if you work at a company which is focusing on women doing well.  My company has women exclusive networking and is preferential to women promotions, there is nothing like this for men, yet my wife gets frustrated that she earns more then me.  With the liberation of women needs to come a changed expectation on men.

  • perihelion22

    Tom, et al. I am a guy and I have been a feminist since 1963 when I was in high school. This has lead to problems since many women expect to be taken care of ala 1950′s. I once met a newly-single women who told me, she “Never expected to have to work after her first marriage…”. I ran as fast as I could.

    Marriage or relationship should be a clear partnership. Anything else is slavery in some form.

  • burroak

    An idea: would a national 4-day work week allow families more family time. Also, allow people more hobby, community time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/emily.antul Emily Barrett Antul

    I think part of the problem in choice is that wages have not risen in 40 years. We have actually too many workers and not enough people staying at home. We probably need about 40% “unemployment” to have enough adults taking care of the kids at home. Whether that’s men or women, it doesn’t matter whatsoever, but the kids need someone there to talk to, cook with, do art and music with, play with, and have guide them. Lots of men I know would be phenomenal stay at home dads, lots of women I know would be phenomenal stay at home moms, but nobody can afford to only have one income supporting everyone else. It’s tragic. 

  • Steve__T

    This subject reminds me of James Brown’s song, It’s a “Mans World”, and the truthful hook “but it would be nothing, nothing, without, a woman or a girl”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000092897230 Leslie Podgur Brew

    I’m 53 and knew that when I had kids I wanted to be a stay at home mom.  I went to college but didn’t strive to find a meaningful career because I knew that becoming a mom was the job I wanted.  When the kids came and I stayed home I became very depressed and realized that I needed to work.  But there was no meaningful career for me to date because I hadn’t set it up that way for myself.  The most important message I give to my daughter is to find something meaningful to study and do for work. When the kids come you can have both – however you chose to organize it.

    • mamalulu

      absolutely.  I also counsel my daughter to be grounded in her own disciplinary focus for financial independence. The future is never known, and outside of common divorce, other catastrophies can and do happen.  What happens to a woman who has children and no training?? Do it BEFORE children!

    • hennorama

      Leslie Podgur Brew – TY for sharing your story.

      One comment – one can also find meaning without a career.  There are volunteer opportunities in a wide variety of fields that can enhance one’s sense of worth.

      Great meaning can be found in selflessness.

  • mamalulu

    I am an artist, raised 2 children and am now in grad school – thinking about PhD.  I’m 59 and concerned about my age and gender.  It seems older men are more successful and welcome into the academy then women.  Am I wrong?

    • Gregg Smith

      My advise, not that you asked for it, is do not let anyone or any notion hold you back one iota. 

      • mamalulu

        Well, thanks Gregg.  I will continue to follow my instinct, but the 3:30 am demons do stir my fears sometimes….

        • Gregg Smith

          I hear ya’ but demons are no match for an artist.

  • Mary Bull

    I graduated from Smith after Friedan and before Fem Mystique. I was part of the strict 10% Catholic – strict 10% Jewish cohort of students.  On graduation one could go to secretarial school, into Nursing or teaching.  Not law, not medicine, not veterinary, not dental, those options were strictly control ed as was the religious quota in the 7 sisters.  We were trained to be good wives, good volunteers, and good support to our family and successful husbands.  If a marriage did not work, we stayed because we were not trained to support ourselves and children.  But with Friedan, we got to be stay-at-home moms, and then get jobs and advanced degrees – we had the best little sliver of time in the late 50′s, thru the 70′s when we could raise our kids at home without guilt and then be young enough to hit the work force.

    We could vote, but in many states we could not own property independently.  So much has changed for the better and so much has been thrown out with the baby.

  • nj_v2

    Is this something new?

    Attempting to edit a comment, i get:

    “Your comment must be approved by a moderator.

    Moderators of this website chose to explicitly approve all edits made by a comment’s author.”

    What’s the possible logic in this?

    One can post comments straightaway, but edits need approval?

    90% of my edits involve correction formatting errors that the crappy Disqus system imposes. The rest are mostly typos.

    If this a new policy or just another Disqus glitch. If the former, see ya later OnPoint.

    • nj_v2

      I tried to post a comment three times. Each time required editing because Disqcrap mangles the format, eliminating all line spaces (for cut and pasted material, and sometimes for stuff i type out myself).

      First time, the post just didn’t show up when the page was refreshed.

      Second time, i got the message noted above. And the post didn’t show up.

      Third time, no message, but the post still didn’t show up.

      • hennorama

        nj_v2 – I’ve had the very same issues in the past, and resolved them by first typing my posts in word processing software with the window narrowed to the typical width of DISQUS posts.  Anything that I cut and paste into the WP software then gets treated the same way as anything I type.

        As to the “line spaces” issue – I’ve found that in the   WP software I use, putting the “next paragraph” line on the 4th line below results in a one blank line break in DISQUS.

        Then I simply copy and paste my post either directly into this forum, or into the DISQUS dashboard (when replying to another poster).

        Hope this helps.

        • nj_v2

          Thanks for the feedback, henn.

          Usually, typing right into the Disqus box—as i’m doing now—works fine. Only occasionally does line spacing disappear between hitting “post as…” and when it appears on the Web site.

          Test cut and pasted from elsewhere always gets mangled unless i insert the HTML code to preserve the line spaces, and even then, there were sometimes problems.

          I have always just expected that i’d need to go back in and edit the problems, which, up until today has never triggered the “moderator” message—the logic of which makes no sense—which leads me to think it’s just a glitch. We’ll see what happens with tomorrow’s, weekly jackassery roundup…

          I hadn’t considered composing first in a WP app, but that’s worth considering. Frustrating, though, that one has to resort to those kinds of work-arounds. It’s not not like the Interwebs was invented yesterday.

          • hennorama

            nj_v2 – no worries. Indeed it’s frustrating using WPs, but one does what one needs to do to get the desired outcome. C’est la vie, n’est ce pas?

            Putain DISQUS ….

    • hennorama

      It’s new(s) to me, but nothing DISQUS does surprises me at this point.

  • IAPolitico

    Where the heck is Ellen Goodman’s name among the panelists?!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000358526244 Dee Peterman

    Lots of white women have also worked outside the home, and I’m willing to bet that has been true throughout the world and history. The women who get to stay home are those who are able to find or by found by men with sufficient income to support both of them and their offspring. All that makes
    the stay-at-home mom, not quite a myth, but a statistically rare occurrence that all too often depends more upon chance than choice.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PAYLVIBT23U7TUTTHNV5CNJX2U Georgette

    All will have a chance for a meaningful job, just  be patient, it  will come soon , first comes test-tube babies(it is here) than test-tube pregnancies, than the goverment will take over to raise the children, all be free to do  as pleases,  it will be the utopia modern  self centered liberal people looking for.

  • EdTheMexican

    This  book was foolishness 50 years ago and it is foolishness now!!!! This book makes you look at events in a certain context. Which becomes a pretext? There is nothing objective about this book.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ADZ6TZZKHWRLDNAOP6R2MBBP6A Bob S

    The standard work week is 40 hours.  Throw in some commute and you have 50 hours per week.  Back in the 1940’s and 50’s, it was typically the man putting in this time to make money while the woman took care of the family.  With women entering the workforce, we have suddenly ended up with 100 hours of time per family spent doing work outside of home every week.

    This is unsustainable and leads to all sorts of social problems like drug and stimulant abuse, stress-related health problems, and high incarceration rates.

    The solution is pretty simple: 20-hour work week!

  • jsmith32653

    My husband didn’t want me to have a job because he thought it would reflect badly on him — that he wasn’t able to provide for me.  After 3 children, I got a divorce and created a successful career for myself.  I’m glad that my grandchildren are growing up with different expectations.

  • http://twitter.com/CedarHillPress Cedar Hill Press

    Very interesting show. I remember vivdly when Freidan’s book came out. I was in college, a serious student (dean’s list etc.), but the assumption about a coed was always “she’s here looking for a husband.”  The book tore through our sorority house like a wildfire, split it down the middle.  It was a polemic for the time; there was an undercurrent of doubt about the limited life choices a woman had at the moment in history and it was just waiting to be ignited.Her book made a big difference, though I understand why 20+ yr old women don’t respond to it fully.  What they don’t understand is how opportunities for women, available choices, have expanded exponentially since then. It’s all about choice, not what is the “right” or “wrong” way for a woman to live her life.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/FI4QE3QSAFSCFPKI4RMFIRDIE4 Ana Greene

    Very glad to hear this being discussed on NPR.  I work full time in a professional job and am a mother to two children.  I wish I had the “choice” that people talk about to either work or stay home.  Even having the option to take a full year off for maternity leave would give me some kind of choice.  Our culture does not offer women a choice.  It tells women that they either have to be women and stay at home, or act like men and go to work.  The flexibility, maternity leave, and general culture that would allow women to have a choice and successfully straddle both worlds, without giving up who we are biologically, does not exist.  

  • glorkohl

    Times haven’t changed that much.  How many men ask for leave to take care of an ageing parent/ parents, a situation that is rapidly accelerating in today’s society?  The school ALWAYS calls the mother first when the kid gets sick and woe to the teacher who calls a father on the job with a school/ behacioral issue.

    Secondly the ramp is straight up for men.  Try completing a fine education, establishing yourself and then taking years off for motherhood.  If anyone thinks that women can successfully re-enter the workforce at an older age, I suggest you look at the current statistics.  The older female worker is anathema to human resource managers.  Until that pattern is reversed and men take the prime years of their lives off to be fathers and then struggle to reconnect, how far have we come?

  • Sy2502

    Things have changed a lot in my lifespan, and I am very thankful for that. I still remember my parents having awful fights because my mom wanted to work and my dad wouldn’t “let” her (yes, women had to ask permission to the husband for everything). Anti discrimination laws are in place, and things are improving. What isn’t improving is, with all due respect to the other posters, male attitude. They are still using feminine attributes as derogatory and contemptuous. Have you heard the recent wave of decry for the much reviled “feminization of society”? I don’t think many really understand how offensive that is. Females make up half of society, but apparently they aren’t allowed to leave a mark on it. And why is it that only things like “caring, compassionate, nurturing, emotional” are called “feminine” while “hard working, responsible, driven, persistent” are still called “male”? Women aren’t hard working and responsible? Seriously? 

    So as long as this attitude remains, women will have to fight their battles. 

  • Duras

    I regret that I got tired of feminism before I could read The Feminine Mystique.  Judith Butler, whom is a significant influence on my thinking, is one of the few I still read. 

    One of the ironies of the conservatives today is that they still throw around the “Marxism” noise (I suppose to raise fears but it is really about deluding themselves) yet have no problem with the beloved 2nd wave feminist movement which was significantly inspired by Marx and used Marxist analytical methods to make their argument.  Of course, the conservatives that throw those words around–”Marxism, Socialism, Communism”–have scant idea of what any of it is, let along what capitalism is.  But what can one do?

    Maybe if they actually read about these issues, they wouldn’t have so much in common with the communist countries they run around fear mongering about.   

  • bethnn

    Why was there input from moms (working or not) who are currently in the trenches with small children? The parenting experience from 0-6 is incredibly intense and expensive if both parents want/need to work. It’s like paying a college tuition for almost 6 years until the kids can start kindergarten!

    There are public policies that exist and have been implemented in many a democratic (social democratic and capitalist economies) country  (ie. Canada, the Nordic countries, to name a few) to help families and mothers cope with the demands of work and raising children. The United States lags way behind many of of its counterparts in policies and programs such as equal pay, paid maternity/paternity leave for all (universal, not as it currently exists), paid sick leave, universal affordable childcare/preschool (not free necessarily but universal in its access and affordable for all families), universal healthcare…until we address these problems from a policy level, we are going to continue to struggle and it’s women, families and children who are paying the price.

    The women’s movement in the 70′s demanded universal childcare and equal pay and legal abortion. 40 years later, we’ve still only achieved one of those demands and even that one is on shaky ground. It’s time start organizing consciousness raising groups again I think…

Sep 1, 2014
This Friday, Aug. 22, 2014 photo shows a mural in in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago dedicated to the history of the Pullman railcar company and the significance for its place in revolutionizing the railroad industry and its contributions to the African-American labor movement. (AP)

On Labor Day, we’ll check in on the American labor force, with labor activist Van Jones, and more.

Sep 1, 2014
Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (95) recovers a fumble by Carolina Panthers quarterback Derek Anderson (3) in the second quarter of the NFL preseason football game on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 in Pittsburgh. (AP)

One outspoken fan’s reluctant manifesto against football, and the big push to reform the game.

Aug 29, 2014
Beyoncé performs at the 2014 MTV Music Video Awards on Sunday, August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, California. (Getty)

Sex, power and Beyoncé’s feminism. The message to young women.

Aug 29, 2014
Ukrainian forces guard a checkpoint in the town of Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko called an emergency meeting of the nation's security council and canceled a foreign trip Thursday, declaring that "Russian forces have entered Ukraine," as concerns grew about the opening of a new front in the conflict.  (AP)

War moves over Syria, Ukraine. Burger King moves to Canada. Nine-year-olds and Uzis. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: August 29, 2014
Friday, Aug 29, 2014

On hypothetical questions, Beyoncé and the unending flow of social media.

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Thursday, Aug 28, 2014

Football great — and vineyard owner — Drew Bledsoe talks wine, onions and the weird way they intersect sometimes in Walla Walla, Washington.

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Poutine Whoppers? Why Burger King Is Bailing Out For Canada
Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014

Why is Burger King buying a Canadian coffee and doughnut chain? (We’ll give you a hint: tax rates).

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