Betty Friedan : "The Problem that has No Name"

Friedan, Betty. 1963. "The Problem That Has No Name" (361-364) from The Feminine Mystique

"The problem lay buried, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American women. It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning [that is, a longing] that women suffered in the middle of the 20th century in the United States. Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries … she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question — 'Is this all?"
"I want something more than my husband, my children, and my home."

"Betty Friedan (February 4, 1921 - February 4, 2006) was an American writer, activist, mother, and feminist.

A leading figure in the "Second Wave" of the U.S. Women's Movement, her 1963 book The Feminine Mystique is sometimes credited with sparking the "second wave" of feminism. Friedan co-founded National Organization for Women in 1966 which aimed to bring women "into the mainstream of American society now [in] fully equal partnership with men"." (Wikipedia)

Went to Smith and then studied at Berkeley under Erik Erikson.



  1. "Is that all?"
  2. Experts sold us a bill of goods about "femininity" as an end in itself. "Adjustment" to available life choices (362.1).
  3. Women withdrew from higher education in 1950s. Marriage age decreased.
  4. Younger marriage. Higher birthrates.
  5. Litany of insults — body image, house beautiful, etc. (362.7-363.3)
  6. Marriage and life in suburb as ultimate aspiration crowded out more serious pursuits. (363.5)
  7. Feminine Mystique = dream of suburban housewifery
  8. Total colonization of mind — talk was all about role as housewife, mother, wife (363.8)
  9. Language of male/female superiority/inferiority wasn't even on the table (363.9-364.1)
  10. If woman felt any unease, it must be because something was wrong with her. DJR: compare C. Wright Mills.
  11. Psychology mystified : clearly a lot of women, clearly not sexual….
  12. The problem is not loss of femininity, too much education, or the demands of running a home. It is simply a strong, unfulfilled desire to have something more than what was served up.
  13. DJR: compare Merton's anomie
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