Daze of Our Wives
Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique
by Beth Impson
When I first encountered Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, at the height of its influence in the 1970s, I kept thinking, “Who are these women?” My mother and her friends were not “desperate housewives”: secret alcoholics and adulterers, trying to escape the boredom of their non-wage-earning lives. They did not spend all day cleaning house, nor did they smother us because they needed to live vicariously through our lives. Their own lives were rich and interesting and useful, and I wanted more than anything to be like them.
Later I wondered even more about the Friedan gospel: “Equality and human dignity are not possible for women if they are not able to earn,” she says in the epilogue to Mystique. Forced by circumstances to be the sole wage-earner for our six-, then seven-member family, all I knew was exhaustion, frustration, and guilt—despite the fact that my professional position made perfect use of my abilities. I wanted to use those abilities to teach my own children, not other people’s. Friedan seemed to be living in some parallel universe.
THIS ARTICLE ONLY AVAILABLE TO SUBSCRIBERS.
FOR QUICK ACCESS:
Beth Impson is Professor of English at Bryan College (named for William Jennings Bryan) in Dayton, Tennessee, and the author of Called to Womanhood (Crossway). She and her husband have five children and eleven grandchildren and attend Grace Bible Church.
calling all readers
"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand
"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor
• Not a subscriber or wish to renew your subscription? Subscribe to Touchstone today for full online access. Over 30 years of publishing!
Transactions will be processed on a secure server.
Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.
OR get a subscription to Touchstone to read on your Kindle for only $1.99 per month! (This option is KINDLE ONLY and does not include either print or online.)
Your subscription goes a long way to ensure that Touchstone is able to continue its mission of publishing quality Christian articles and commentary.
more from the online archives