Growing up in the late twentieth and now twenty-first century, sometimes I have a hard time believing that the world Betty Friedan describes in The Feminine Mystique was the world my grandmother came of age in, the world in which my parents were born. I know “feminist” is a dirty word for some people, but under these circumstances, how could anybody NOT be a feminist:
A few years ago, sex-directed education finally infiltrated a famous women’s college, which had been proud in the past of its large share of graduates who went on to play leading roles in education and law and medicine, the arts and sciences, government and social welfare. This college had an ex-feminist woman president, who was perhaps beginning to suffer a slight guilt at the thought of all those women educated like men. A questionnaire, sent to alumnae of all ages, indicated that the great majority were satisfied with their non-sex directed education; but a minority complained that their education had made them overly conscious of women’s rights and equality with men, too interested in careers, possessed of a nagging feeling that they should do something in the community, that they should at least keep on reading, studying, developing their own abilities and interests. Why hadn’t they been educated to be happy housewives and mothers?
– The Feminine Mystique