Еssay on True Womanhood and the Feminine Mystique

The topic of women rights was always relevant. The glossy magazines covers are full of feministic headlines and stories of successful women. Women don’t be afraid of making career and unmarried status doesn’t consider as a shameful thing in modern society. It came a long way to its modern condition, and times and points of view were quite different.

The Cult of True Womanhood and “The Feminine Mystique” are two opinions about one problem: the women place in modern society. The world “modern” is quite relative in this case because The Cult of True Womanhood was a popular notion in the 19-th century, and the “The Feminine Mystique” appeared in 1963. That fact proves the idea that “women question” is one of the eternal questions of our society.

Both this notions were oriented on the middle-class and upper-class women (mainly white women). The interests of poor and working-class women were not broached. One more common feature is the place of origin: the USA and Great Britain (mainly Cult of True Womanhood). Both these movements concern post-World War II society but from different points of view.

“The Feminine Mystique” considers a woman as a self-dependent person; it does not bind her only by mothering, and housekeeping. According to the Cult of True Womanhood a woman must follow these four virtues:

1. Devotion ”“ being more religious than man.

2. Immaculacy ”“ woman must aim to keep the purity of her body, thoughts and heart.

3. Obedience – submission to her husband.

4. Domesticity ”“ a woman must only do housekeeping. This notion appeared as a result of the Industrial Revolution: a man must go to his work to earn the money and woman stays at home to take care about the children, house and create the cosiness for her husband.

Historian Nancy Woloch has noticed: “During the 1950s, women’s expectations were shifting in two directions, simultaneously”. After the rise of the feminism in post-World War II society the cult of domesticity became popular again after the TV-shows began to present the happy families where the mother would stay at home with her children and her husband went to earn the money.

Betty Friedan, the author of “The Feminine Mystique” considered the post-war society the main reason of the women “captivity”. She suggests that men, who returned from the War, came back to their wives for mothering. But economic and intellectual progress allowed lightening of the women’s work and makes it less irreplaceable and obligatory.

The origin of “The Feminine Mystique” was the questionnaire to women. The results were quite interesting. Friedan considers that the most part of the questioned women were unsatisfied of their society status and their lives on the whole. The constant cares about their families suppressed them and they felt themselves the victims of present regime. As a result “The Feminine Mystique” became on of the most influential books of the 20-th century. The author criticized the Freud’s “theory of penis envy” among woman. This book released the women from their archaic role of housewives and opened them a new way of development as personalities.

There were different opinions about this question in different epochs. Each person independently of its sex wants to be all-sufficient and happy. I think in our society with its modern technologies and comprehensive opportunities for everyone a woman can combine her family and successful career.

Leave a Reply