“THE FEMINININE MISTIQUE AND SECON-WAVE WOMEN’S MOVEMENT”
“I went to a play last winter in which Einstein and Picasso are talking in a café, and they tell each other that ‘we are going to define this century.’ It was all I could do to keep from standing up in the audience and saying, ‘Hey! Wait a minute! What about women? Women define this century.’ “ (Betty Friedan, 1998)
Certainly, the author of these words, Betty Friedan sacrificed her life to achieve this goal. The analysis of her famous work- the “Feminine Mystique”, as well as an attempt to evaluate her role in organizing the second- wave femininism is the main concern of my essay. Before I start introducing the revolutionary’s ideas from the 1960’s I would like to focus on the historical background of the women’s movement, on the characteristics of the American society, as well as on the description of the women’s changing role especially in the 50’s.
In the United States, the "first-wave" feminism (roughly dated from 1848 until early 1960's) gained women the basic right to vote. For the fifty years following acceptance of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1919, women voted and worked, but only within the narrow social, legal and economic parameters. As the U.S Women’s Bureau was continuously revealing in its reports there was a very narrow band of women’s occupations, high unemployment and significant pay differentials.
This situation became even worse in the Depression era. Later, on the contrary, with America’s entry into World War II, women were literally “catapulted” into the workforce. Suddenly female workers became necessary to produce armaments and to run factories. The icon of this era was Rosie the Riveter, representing the American women who worked in war factories during World War II. The government campaigned actively to recruit the women into the labor force liberating the discriminatory hiring practices of the Depression. Still many job classifications...