The Feminine Mystique

by

Betty Friedan

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Margaret Mead Character Analysis

A noted anthropologist, Mead studied gender and sexuality in primitive civilizations and applied some of her findings to American society. Mead, like many social scientists in the postwar era, validated traditional gender roles through her application of the theory of functionalism to her studies. Friedan is critical of Mead for the ways in which Mead’s functionalist views effectively reinforced the feminine mystique and sent women back into the home in the years following the war.

Margaret Mead Quotes in The Feminine Mystique

The The Feminine Mystique quotes below are all either spoken by Margaret Mead or refer to Margaret Mead . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Domesticity and Femininity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the W.W. Norton edition of The Feminine Mystique published in 1963.
Epilogue Quotes

Perhaps women who have made it as “exceptional” women don’t really identify with other women. For them, there are three classes of people: men, other women, and themselves; their very status as exceptional women depends on keeping other women quiet, and not rocking the boat.

Related Characters: Betty Friedan (speaker), Margaret Mead
Related Symbols: The Feminine Mystique
Page Number: 382
Explanation and Analysis:
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Margaret Mead Character Timeline in The Feminine Mystique

The timeline below shows where the character Margaret Mead appears in The Feminine Mystique. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 6: The Functional Freeze, the Feminine Protest, and Margaret Mead
Domesticity and Femininity Theme Icon
Nature vs. Nurture Theme Icon
Friedan identifies Margaret Mead as the “most powerful influence on modern women” due to her influence as a scholar... (full context)
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Nature vs. Nurture Theme Icon
Psychoanalysis and Sexism Theme Icon
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Mead tended to glorify the female role in relation to its biological function. At times, she... (full context)
Domesticity and Femininity Theme Icon
Nature vs. Nurture Theme Icon
Psychoanalysis and Sexism Theme Icon
After 1931, it became clear that Mead was using Freudian theory in her anthropological explorations of other civilizations. She identified “the superstructure”... (full context)
Domesticity and Femininity Theme Icon
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Mead used primitive civilizations, such as Samoa and Bali, to justify her notion that biology was... (full context)
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Mead’s role as the spokesperson for femininity might have been less important if women had learned... (full context)
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Regarding childbirth and child-rearing, Mead encouraged breast-feeding and thought that women should say “yes” to child-bearing as a conscious choice... (full context)
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By the 1960s, Mead voiced concern over what she called the “return of the cave woman,” or the retreat... (full context)
Chapter 7: The Sex-Directed Educators
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Psychoanalysis and Sexism Theme Icon
...thinking in young women. They worried, based on the ideas of Sigmund Freud and Margaret Mead, that a proper education would only doom women to frustration when they inevitably became housewives. (full context)
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The sex-directed educator had embraced the views of Freud and Mead, which validated the feminine mystique and encouraged “adjustment within the world of home and children.”... (full context)
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Sex and Marriage Theme Icon
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...as “Marriage and Family,” learn bits and pieces of ideas from Sigmund Freud and Margaret Mead, but not with the necessary backgrounds in psychology and anthropology to contextualize those ideas. The... (full context)
Epilogue
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Noted anthropologist Margaret Mead opposed women going to work, asking, who was going “to stay home and bandage the... (full context)