The Feminine Mystique


Betty Friedan

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The Happy Housewife Heroine Term Analysis

Friedan uses this label to describe the image of the housewife created by women’s magazines, starting in 1942, though, the term could also describe the idealized image of housewives promoted by advertising firms. The “happy housewife” heroine accepted her traditional feminine role and sought fulfillment through being a wife and a mother. In some stories, she was contrasted with the career woman who represented a threat to proper modes of femininity.

The Happy Housewife Heroine Quotes in The Feminine Mystique

The The Feminine Mystique quotes below are all either spoken by The Happy Housewife Heroine or refer to The Happy Housewife Heroine. For each quote, you can also see the other terms 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.
Chapter 1 Quotes

It is no longer possible to ignore that voice, to dismiss the desperation of so many American women. This is not what being a woman means, no matter what the experts say. For human suffering there is a reason; perhaps the reason has not been found because the right questions have not been asked or pressed far enough. I do not accept the answer that there is no problem because American women have luxuries that women in other times and lands never dreamed of; part of the strange newness of the problem is that it cannot be understood in terms of the age-old material problems of man: poverty, sickness, hunger, cold.

Related Characters: Betty Friedan (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Problem That Has No Name
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes

The image of woman that emerges from this big, pretty magazine is young and frivolous, almost childlike; fluffy and feminine; passive; gaily content in a world of bedroom and kitchen, sex, babies, and home. The magazine surely does not leave out sex; the only passion, the only pursuit, the only goal a woman is permitted is the pursuit of a man. It is crammed full of food, clothing, cosmetics, furniture, and the physical bodies of young women, but where is the world of thought and ideas, the life of the mind and spirit? In the magazine image, women do no work except housework and work to keep their bodies beautiful and to get and keep a man.

Related Characters: Betty Friedan (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Feminine Mystique
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Happy Housewife Heroine Term Timeline in The Feminine Mystique

The timeline below shows where the term The Happy Housewife Heroine appears in The Feminine Mystique. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: The Happy Housewife Heroine
Domesticity and Femininity Theme Icon
Work Theme Icon
The New Women of 1930s fiction were almost never housewives. They were also not always young. Those who... (full context)
Domesticity and Femininity Theme Icon
Work Theme Icon
The “ happy housewife heroine s” had no vision of the future beyond having babies. Any ambition they exhibited was... (full context)
Domesticity and Femininity Theme Icon
Nature vs. Nurture Theme Icon
Work Theme Icon
...women, while men who had returned home from the war wrote the stories about the happy housewife heroine . They had channeled their longing for the comforts of home into these stories. (full context)