Why should women accept this picture of a half-life, instead of a share?
January 29, 2013 8:49 AM   Subscribe

Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique, which turns 50 next month, transformed the lives of women across America. ... Gail Collins, author and columnist for the New York Times, wrote the introduction to the 50th anniversary edition of The Feminine Mystique. Collins may be best known for her sharp and witty voice on the Times's Op-Ed page. In 2001, she became the first woman to serve as Editorial Page Editor for the New York Times, a post she held until 2007. Collins grew up in the kind of "typical" suburban household Friedan described. But The Feminine Mystique, released when Collins was in college, sparked the second wave of feminism and shaped the landscape Collins would enter into. An Interview with Collins about her own experiences, childcare, the rise of female breadwinners, and what she sees for women in the future.
posted by infini (9 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for posting, I loooooooove Gail Collins! Reading now...
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:22 AM on January 29, 2013

When we lost the comprehensive childcare bill, we really lost it, for all practical purposes, forever. It wasn't something you could postpone. That's the moment when the economy was such that you could afford to do it, and that's vanished. We're fighting every day about whether social security can be continued in its present form. There's no way we're going to see a new huge entitlement outside of health care being created anywhere in the near future = ugh, she is right and that is so depressing.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:25 AM on January 29, 2013 [9 favorites]

The problem Friedan illustrated "had no name." Do you think there's a modern version of this problem? Something we've missed?

Women's voices are so powerful now. I don't worry that they won't find ways to define their issues. I look around me and see all these incredible young women who are writing and talking about stuff. The most interesting thing is when I run into young women who grew up thinking there were no issues regarding gender left. When they got into work, they were being deliberately discriminated against, but they would complain that it's less easy to bond with the guys and work on the same level as the guys in some industries.

They just feel a little bit left out. They don't know what to do, because the idea that you'd be discriminated against as a woman is so outlandish in this day and age. The answer is to talk to other women. You make friends with and support other women in the workplace. There seems to be a real issue there that is outside the expectations of women today.

I think its a generational thing because I feel the opposite, like a dinosaur.
posted by infini at 9:41 AM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

I loved the explanation of how the role of housewife decreased in economic significance and thus, "a loss of power and respect in a country where the economic role is everything." I don't think I've ever seen this written out this way before and it really helps me understand my weird feelings on the 1950s-plus modern role of housewife even as I can respect what it used to take to be in charge of a household. Excellent.

And I agree with TPS -- that is true and depressing. Hadn't thought of it that way before. Damn.
posted by olinerd at 10:47 AM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

OMG, the comments. If anyone is looking for a glimpse of what women are still up against, you will find it there.
posted by caryatid at 11:05 AM on January 29, 2013 [5 favorites]

You know what's interesting is that while she says, on the one hand, we've lost our chance forever for childcare assistance, on the other, she says that things that were unthinkable are now happening and a woman president will be one of them soon.

For childcare to get taken seriously, more women have to be in government, and that pressure is building. I do think it will happen, but like the woman president, I don't know when it will happen. But, as with healthcare and so many other things, what we have isn't working, and other countries have already done a lot to show us the way. It's just a matter of keeping the pressure on until the resistance breaks.
posted by emjaybee at 12:53 PM on January 29, 2013

"a woman president will be one of them soon."posted by emjaybee at 12:53 PM on January 29 [+] [!]
Hillary vs. Condoleezza?
posted by Cranberry at 2:50 PM on January 29, 2013

I re-read The Feminine Mystique a couple of weeks ago. My mother's copy. She said it came too late for her - she was already an isolated housewife with four small children and a controlling husband when she came across it.

I'd read it as a teenager, but reading it again now that I am a housewife was breathtaking.
I have seen the backlash against feminism in my own generation (I'm 35).
There's a whole new culture of 'Domestic Goddess' out there to buy into. As well as strong moral pressure to make your children the focus of your existence.

I recognise in myself the unconscious decision I made to hide away by believing I could fulfill myself with children and housekeeping. And the depression and accidie resulting from that running away.

Even acknowledging that work and personal growth is the healthy solution to my problems, it is still incredibly difficult to overcome the practical and emotional roadblocks to getting there. Even if care is available, could I put my toddler in care, make my 5 year old go to after-school care?
In the small provincial city I live in now, there is no way I can get a job that would replace my husband's earnings and allow him to stay at home with the children. Although he would certainly be better suited to it temperamentally.

The alternative seems to be to remain on antidepressants and the occasional valium 'holiday' for the next four years.
posted by Catch at 3:09 PM on January 29, 2013 [5 favorites]

A good interview and very good points. The differences in class - regardless of gender - are striking but, as with most things, class impacts women so much more than it does men.
posted by BillW at 3:34 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

« Older The sorry state of Boston sports writers   |   No TP needed Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments