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Tue Feb 19, 2013, 05:14 PM

50 years after "the feminine mystique"--are you better off than your grandmother?

Let’s Talk About The Feminine Mystique, 50 Years After Its Debut: Are You Really Better Off Than Your Grandmother?


Believe it or not, it’s been 50 years since Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique hit shelves. The book is credited with bringing second-wave feminism to the national spotlight, sparking women to rethink traditional gender roles. So how have women’s lives changed since then? Let’s take a look.

. . . . .

A few things that still haven’t changed…or have even gotten worse:

1
Women work more—but boy, is it hard sometimes. The United States lags embarrassingly far behind the rest of the world when it comes to guaranteeing paid maternity leave (i.e., we don’t have any, while women in other nations around the world, from Pakistan to Mexico to Canada, are guaranteed between 12 weeks and a year). We need paid leave for new mothers and fathers as well as quality subsidized child care so that when the 50 percent of families with two earners and the 26 percent of single parents need to get back to work, there are options available. Most important, we need to begin thinking of work-life balance not as a woman’s problem but as a human problem. Without that, we’ll never have as many women as men in politics, in boardrooms, in research labs, or in other important fields.

2
We’ve turned mothering into a competitive sport. Women are expected to research every aspect of parenting—strollers, naps, nutrition, sleep habits—from the moment they get pregnant. Researchers have found that today’s mothers—even the ones who work full time outside the home—now actually clock more hours with their kids than back in the days when Friedan wrote about the stranglehold of child care. Time for yourself? Forget it.

3
Our access to reproductive care is under siege. In states all over the country, lawmakers are trying to define life as beginning at conception—which would make many forms of birth control illegal—and to basically make abortion, which has been legal in all 50 states since 1973, unavailable. Our ability to control when and with whom we have a family is at the root of our ability to work, to earn money, to love, and to play on equal footing as men. When our reproductive freedom is compromised, so is our equality as citizens.

4
The wage gap persists. Today women earn 77 percent of what men do—up from 59 percent in 1963, it must be said—and the numbers are far worse for women of color. That wage gap and other factors—like the time women still spend doing unpaid caregiving and the interruption of earning for pregnancy—mean that American women of every race are more likely than men to live in poverty.

http://www.glamour.com/inspired/2013/02/the-feminine-mystique-50-years-after-its-debut

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Reply 50 years after "the feminine mystique"--are you better off than your grandmother? (Original post)
niyad Feb 2013 OP
randome Feb 2013 #1
niyad Feb 2013 #6
randome Feb 2013 #9
niyad Feb 2013 #11
peace13 Feb 2013 #2
niyad Feb 2013 #3
peace13 Feb 2013 #4
niyad Feb 2013 #5
WinkyDink Feb 2013 #13
frazzled Feb 2013 #7
niyad Feb 2013 #8
redqueen Feb 2013 #10
WinkyDink Feb 2013 #12
politicat Feb 2013 #14
senseandsensibility Feb 2013 #15
LeftInTX Feb 2013 #16

Response to niyad (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 05:18 PM

1. The phrase has no bearing on matters today.

Just like 'women's intuition'. There is no 'feminine mystique'. There is only the need for equal rights.

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Response to randome (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 05:49 PM

6. in your opinion, at any rate.

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Response to niyad (Reply #6)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 06:25 PM

9. Always.

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Response to randome (Reply #9)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 07:27 PM

11. siggghhhh

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Response to niyad (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 05:26 PM

2. Better off than Grandma but not better off than my mother.

Mom's 78 and had a charmed life of family, career, divorce, marriage, homes, and is now safely sucking off the teat of the government. She is grabbing everything she can and does not think that younger people deserve a thing. Go figure. To talk to her she had it rough. Let's look, a high school education that lead to a job earning 50k in 1977, health care, retirement plan and all of the trimmings. Now settled in with Medicare and SS in addition to retirement benefits.

I ask her how she would have raised three little girls at the age of 23 with a high school education today. She has no concept that young women take jobs that no one else will have, at minimum wage and no benefits. Babies without health care....go figure! Families without a place to call home, gas at $4 and child care costs out the roof. Hmmmm. I fear that there is an entire generation of women who just don't get it.

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Response to peace13 (Reply #2)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 05:33 PM

3. I think you are quite correct.

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Response to niyad (Reply #3)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 05:42 PM

4. I am 55 and am fine now but know that the future is pretty bleak...

barring some kind of change in the moral compass of this country. That being said I think that women in their 20's and 30's today have it worse than I did at that age. We had career and home and the idea that if we lost a job we could always get another one. Today the young people don't know how the employment scene will pan out but they can guess that there will be big bumps along the way. The lack of health care will only make their situation worse.

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Response to peace13 (Reply #4)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 05:45 PM

5. you are correct--back in our 20's and 30's, things looked far more hopeful than they do today.

back then, for example, I didn't think we would be fighting the same damned battles for reproductive rights, for women actually being treated as something other than 2d class citizens, and we did not have two major, seemingly endless wars going on, either.

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Response to peace13 (Reply #2)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 07:37 PM

13. Well, mine is 88 and barely getting by, even though my deceased father was white-collar, Beth. Steel

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Response to niyad (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 06:08 PM

7. I remember my grandmother came to dinner at my house once in the 1970s

This was rare, and I can't remember why she came to our house rather than the other way round. My husband and I, young graduate students in our 20s at the time, always drove the 50 miles or so to visit her in her senior apartment. And even though our visits were sporadic, and we never called in advance, to save her the trouble of cooking—magically, there were always large pots of Hungarian food cooking on the stove (goulash or chicken paprikas, or stuffed cabbage), ready to be served up at a moment's notice ; and there were always trays of home-made Dobos torte and strudel, freshly baked and ready to be devoured. She was amazing.

My grandmother was a Hungarian immigrant who came to this country in the late 1910s. She'd been brought up mostly in an orphanage, because apparently, her parents thought she was one too many for the family budget. Finally, they brought her to America, where she and her eventual husband, my grandfather, opened a little corner grocery store, above which they lived in a small apartment. She worked like a dog her whole life running that store, making her own sausages to sell, cleaning and ordering, and bringing up three children to all go to college and live the American dream.

At any rate, I sat talking to my grandmother after the dinner I'd cooked at our little rented house, while my husband cleared and washed the dishes. She was amazed, and she complimented me and said she envied me my "modern" marriage. She told me my grandfather had never washed a dish in his life, and she wished she had thought to ask him to do that. I could tell she felt betrayed by her generation, in which the women had to do everything but got nothing.

So, in that way, yes, I am better off than my grandmother. I have a marriage (going on 40 years now) that is an equal partnership in all things. It amazed and gratified my beloved grandmother, and I guess it still amazes and gratifies me.



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Response to frazzled (Reply #7)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 06:24 PM

8. thank you so much for sharing a bit of that remarkable woman with us.

and, just so you know, you made me quite homesick--think I need to go make some paprikas for dinner, have not made it in a while (and just got some realllly good paprika)

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Response to niyad (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 07:03 PM

10. In some ways yes. In others, no.

She was a white woman who fell in love with a black man in the 50's. In Texas. So there is that.

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Response to niyad (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 07:36 PM

12. OMG, is this a serious question?! HELL, YES, I'm better off.

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Response to niyad (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 08:41 PM

14. Absolutely.

When my grandmother was my age (37, in the 70s), she had:

A high school diploma with an emphasis in home Ec (no typing, no shorthand, nothing that equipped her to support herself)
Two children, aged 18 and 17 and two step-children, aged 17 and 15
One shotgun marriage to and eventual divorce from a struggling farmer and a second marriage to another struggling farmer, with all of the stress and financial insecurity that farming brings
Was working as 1) a hair dresser, and being exposed to the toxicity that was 1970s perms and dyes while standing all day and without repetitive stress protection or anything like anti-fatigue mats to prevent varicose veins and 2) moonlighting as a bartender to make ends meet
A farm that was barely staying afloat thanks to the Nixon Administration's dismantling of the Great Depression era's farm supports
Had been in menopause for several years because her doctor decided that two children were enough for her and performed a hysterectomy on her in her late 20s without informing her. (Not that she objected, but still...)
A diet and fitness routine that revolved around fads and corsetry and involved too much yoyoing and too little actual exercise, which would ultimately lead to diabetes, osteoporosis and heart and respiratory diseases
Undiagnosed and untreated ADD and depression as well as situational anxiety
Lost several teeth to decay caused by a combination of untreated well water, a poor diet as a Depression era child, and lack of effective dentistry

I have:
One marriage, that I entered late and after living with my partner for several years
No divorces
No unplanned children (or children of any sort except for the fur-bearing sort) (thank you, contraception!)
A bachelor's and a pair of master's
A career that lets me work with my brain instead of my body and that can support me, my partner and our fur-babies into retirement and beyond
Savings that do not depend on whether it rained last summer
Income that doesn't depend on the weather or toxic chemicals
A partner who supports my career and my abilities in my field and is comfortable in his own field
Time, leisure and money to stay in shape, eat well, and not feel like I'm under the whip every minute of the day
Medications that work for my disorders, both physical and mental, and the ability to discuss them with my doctors without being dismissed as "female troubles"
Safer cars, more reliable phone and power lines, clean municipal water with fluoride, better public transit, the ability to bike almost everywhere I want to go

When my grandmother got pregnant with my mother, she was just out of high school in the 1950s and was given only two choices -- marry her high school lover or go to another state to give up her baby for adoption. I have reason to believe that my grandmother did take that second option after she divorced my grandfather, though no way to confirm it. (She disappeared for a year when my mother was 6. No explanation has ever been given.) She was discouraged from pursuing a career, though few were available to her.

I am absolutely better off.


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Response to niyad (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 08:45 PM

15. Yes, and no.

I certainly have more access to birth control and more opportunities for a career. And my grandmother came of age during the Great Depression and knew real poverty. However, for most of her life, she lived in the post WW2 boom years. She didn't have to work after she had a child, and she received SS benefits and medicare for decades without feeling the constant threat that they would be taken away.

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Response to niyad (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 08:56 PM

16. I'm better off

My grandmother: Arranged marriage. Never dated. Pregnant at least 10 times. Never wore a pair of pants or a pair of tennis shoes.

She was very healthy and lived to 89. She had tons of friends. She once asked me, "What is marijuana like"? When I denied using it (hee, hee) she replied, "You lie, I want to know what it's like".

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