The Feminine Mystique

by

Betty Friedan

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– Also referred to as “the New Woman,” the career woman was an independent, ambitious type who found fulfillment both in her work and in her romances. Friedan uses examples from short fiction in women’s magazines to illustrate the contrast between the career woman, a character in popular fiction in the 1920s and 1930s, and the housewife, the exemplar of womanhood after 1942, who had been convinced by the feminine mystique that she had to choose between marriage and a career. If she did work, it should only be in the service of her family. For advertisers in the 1940s and 1950s, the career woman was a consumer who disliked housework and was interested in getting a job outside the home. Her presence in the market presented a threat, due to her being less likely to buy appliances.
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The Career Woman Term Timeline in The Feminine Mystique

The timeline below shows where the term The Career Woman appears in The Feminine Mystique. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: The Problem That Has No Name
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Truly “feminine” women pitied career women and devoted their ambitions to finding husbands instead. By the end of the 1950s, “the... (full context)
Chapter 2: The Happy Housewife Heroine
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...contrasts contemporary short fiction with short fiction from the 1930s, which told stories of spirited career women . These women were adventurous, independent, determined, and still loved by men. They were less... (full context)
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...the sinful woman of the flesh. By the postwar era, the new contrast was between the career woman and “the child-bride heroine.” The new sin to exorcise was the pursuit of a separate... (full context)
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The only career woman who was welcome in the magazines was the image of actresses. However, even by the... (full context)
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...a women’s magazine, a woman older than she, who recalled how the stories about spirited career women had been written by women, while men who had returned home from the war wrote... (full context)
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...feminine mystique. One blamed it on psychoanalysis, which had made them “feel embarrassed about being career women ” and made them objects of pity among “college guest editors.” Some female writers wrote... (full context)
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...images of white, middle-class American women splintered into three parts. The first was the “masculinized” career woman who makes the same amount of money as her husband and sees a psychiatrist to... (full context)
Chapter 4: The Passionate Journey
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The label of “feminist,” like that of “ career woman ,” became a dirty word. The first women to enter professions were insecure in their... (full context)
Chapter 7: The Sex-Directed Educators
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...encouraged all manner of conformity, advocating the “wrongness” of premarital sex, the notion that successful career women were atypical, that working women usually felt guilty for leaving their children at home, and... (full context)
Chapter 8: The Mistaken Choice
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...educations. However, the neuroses of soldiers, supposedly stemming from childhood, could not be blamed on career women . The GIs’ mothers had been “self-sacrificing, dependent” housewives. Research showed that they had little... (full context)
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...not work. Though studies showed no more delinquency or school truancy among the children of career women than among those of housewives, reports still warned that delinquency was more common among the... (full context)
Chapter 9: The Sexual Sell
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...categories to learn their opinions about electrical appliances. They included “The True Housewife Type,” “ The Career Woman ,” and “The Balanced Homemaker.” (full context)
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The Career Woman represented a minority that advertisers did not want to become larger. She had often never... (full context)
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By the mid-1950s, consumer surveys had revealed that the Career Woman was gone. She was replaced by a less sophisticated consumer who did some work in... (full context)
Chapter 10: Housewifery Expands to Fill the Time Available
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...college and others who had quit. Their husbands were professionals. Only one wife was a career woman , the others were devoted to family life and spent a little time doing community... (full context)
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Friedan found the same pattern when comparing women who identified as “housewives” to career women , both in the suburbs and in the cities. Housewives always seemed to spend more... (full context)