Essay: Feminine Mystique and Equality of Sexes

Pages: 4 (1361 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Feminism / Feminists  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] She believed they could do more than just learn to cook, clean and sew. She wanted them to be taught to do the kinds of things that men were taught to do. She wanted them to be respected for their intelligence. She wanted them to be admired for their characters, their strength, and their ability to make a difference in the world. Murray noted that there had been women throughout history who had made contributions to the world that ranked right up there alongside those made by men. One could point to women like Joan of Arc, for instance, or one could point to Queen Isabella. There were many women who received an education and who understand the importance of applying their intellects to the problems of the day and making sure that they answered the call that was theirs.

Friedan’s argument is that women in 1960s were not hearing the call. All they were hearing was the call to be pretty and to be the sexy house kitten for their husbands like the television shows of the 1950s and 1960s wanted them to be. Friedan felt that women needed to be liberated from the mindset that was keeping them enslaved to this image. Murray felt that society needed to be made more aware of the contributions that women could make to society. Murray wanted women to receive the same type of education and same level of regard as was given men. Friedan wanted women to be freed from the social enslavement of the unreal image which put them in chains.

Friedan described the problem of the unreal image as a “trap” that confined the “suburban housewife” and placed her in “chains” (31). She stated, however, that even if society wanted women to strive to be a certain televised way, these “chains that bind her in her trap are chains in her own mind and spirit. They are chains made up of mistaken ideas and misinterpreted facts, of incomplete truths and unreal choices. They are not easily seen and not easily shaken off” (Friedan 31). Friedan wanted women to assert themselves, to listen to the voice that was inside herself, to be frank with themselves and admit honestly that the unreal image was a lie. Murray wanted society to hear her voice, to see that women everywhere had a voice and that those voices should not only be heard but that they should also be allowed to train and be educated alongside men in the same manner and style that they might also produce quality works and make respectable contributions to the world—contributions beyond making jams and play clothes for the children.

In this way, both women in their literary works aimed to show that women deserved more credit—from society and from themselves. Murray was directing her work to society at large. Friedan was directing her work to women in an attempt to shake them out their stupor. Murray knew that women had more to offer. But a century and half later, Friedan was worried that the majority of women no longer believed in themselves, believed that they had anything more to give than their good looks, and their legs in heels, their bodies always in tip top shape and clothed in the immaculate styles of the television goddesses. Murray wanted women’s minds to be respected. Friedan wanted women to wake up and listen to the voices inside themselves that they might once more learn to respect themselves. For Murray, equality was the issue. For Friedan, equality had to first start with the women—for they were the ones submitting to the unreal images set out for them by a society that wanted an unreality.

Works Cited

Friedan, Betty. The Feminine Mystique. NY: W. W. Norton, 1963.

Murray, Judith Sargent. “On the Equality of the Sexes,” 1790.

http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/murray/equality/equality.html [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Feminine Mystique and Equality of Sexes."  Essaytown.com.  May 16, 2018.  Accessed September 20, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/feminine-mystique-equality-sexes/4899718.