From The Feminine Mystique to the Mommy Wars

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Stephanie Coontz, director of research and public education at the Council on Contemporary Families and the author of A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s, examines the impact and continuing influence of Betty Friedan's seminal book.

Event:  Stephanie Coontz speaks about her book tonight at the Tenement Museum at 6:30pm.  RSVP at the museum website.


Stephanie Coontz

Comments [16]

Jennifer Hilton from Brooklyn

Attending the talk tonight...a complex subject for all. As a daughter of a feminist in the 60's and 70's this was not an easy time in the upheaval and redefining of family and should not be romanticized. By woman of privilege going out and redefining their place in society did it create greater economic struggle for families today? (the requirement of two bread winners to survive) And if they had not gone out to challenge society would so many of our freedoms we all have today, to tackle this and other social struggles, not be in place?

Feb. 03 2011 02:26 PM
Naomi from Scarsdale

Seminal?? NO! GERMINAL, maybe.
Betty Friedan, Yes, of course!
But don't forget Elizabeth Janeway (Man's World, Woman's Place), Kate Millett (Sexual Politics), Simone de Beauvoire (The Second Sex)

Feb. 03 2011 11:36 AM
Natalie from Brooklyn, NY

I graduated from the same college as Betty Friedan. Even in that rarified environment, thinking the world was our oyster, we were still conventional in much of our thinking. The British ambassador who gave our graduation speech, told us "You have been given the best education anywhere in the world so you can become your husband's cultural partner and your children's culturnal mentor." I did not "wake up" until some years later when I was divorced, with a child to raise and no particular working skills. I gradually pushed ahead in the public relations field but it necessitated several moves to increase my salary and survive male bosses who were sexual predators. It was not an easy time.

Feb. 03 2011 11:33 AM
Amy from Manhattan

To the caller (Tony?) who said women went to college to find a higher class of man to marry, when I was in college in the '70s, a male classmate stated that most of the women there were just looking to get an MRS degree. I granted him a BS on the spot!

Feb. 03 2011 11:27 AM
Cathy George

When I was growing up in the 50's and 60's my mother told me many times that a woman never knows when a man will walk out on you or drop dead. So I had better get my self a good degree. I got my self a teacher's degree.

Feb. 03 2011 11:25 AM
Reese from Manhattan

If its about middle class white women then what happens when white men decide to marry outside that group? For example, more men are now using to find foreign woman who live in developing countries. Will the the families resulting from such unions teach their daughters to embrace the work of Friedan? If so, is that a problem for the movement?

Feb. 03 2011 11:21 AM
Amy from Manhattan

The mention of tranquilizers made me realize how long it's been since I thought about how women's dissatisfaction was not only pathologized but medicated! How common was it for women to be prescribed tranquilizers?

Feb. 03 2011 11:20 AM
Meg from Stamford, CT

Did Friedan ever respond, formally, to the criticism that she left out so many working women in her landmark work?

I'm 51, read it and loved it because it explained much of my own mother's misery.

Feb. 03 2011 11:18 AM
john from office

Urgh, upper middle class whites crying into their martinis.

What about the women who gave up kids for a profession and have that guilt.

Feb. 03 2011 11:18 AM
Theresa from Brooklyn

Problem is, other than middle and upper middle class women never did and don't now have the luxury of finding meaning through work. Work is just another soul-crushing treadmill for so many women, true then, and still true now.

Feb. 03 2011 11:16 AM
Ruth Lewin from NYC, NY

Never identified with the book or with her. A Latina on scholarship at NYU, she seemed to be a whiner. My mother raised me to be strong and self-sufficient, and not to accept the stereotypes of Puerto Ricans or women.

Feb. 03 2011 11:15 AM

An other book not read "A Theory of Justice" by John Rawls 1971: but many refer to it; demonize it but the but is not leftist. It is an apology for the current bourgeois society with its inequality

Feb. 03 2011 11:11 AM
Sharon from Harlem

I am appalled at this author's characterization of a time when "women were not allowed to balance work and family." When I read the Feminist Mystique in college, all the women I knew worked outside of the home (some of them worked in the homes of the women of whom Coontz speaks). It was as if I was reading about aliens.

Can we at least mention class and race here??????

Feb. 03 2011 11:11 AM
J.D. from west village

The success of feminism has proven that women in power can be as corrupt and imperious as any male. The feminist card has become just one more weapon in the arsenal of any garden variety workplace opportunist. Men must now affect a passive-aggressive milquetoast demeanor or be accused of being sexist, right Brian?

Feb. 03 2011 11:07 AM
the husband

It's no longer taboo for women to say exactly what they want -- in ALL rooms of the house -- and that's a good thing!

Feb. 03 2011 11:01 AM
Gaetano Catelli from Dixieland, USA

"feminism" is the canary in the coal mine of every dying civilization, in every time, in every place, without exception.

many contemporaneous commentators viewed the 60s (feminism was the "canary", but not the "methane") as the watershed into the West's irreversible decline. interestingly, the Red Cinese, in spite of all their colossal problems at the time, correctly perceived the 60s as ushering in the West's fin de siecle.

Feb. 03 2011 10:41 AM

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