1963 April 7

NY Times Reviewer Blasts Friedan’s Classic “Feminine Mystique:” Blames Women for Their Own Problems


The New York Times on this day gave a sharply critical review of Betty Friedan’s now-classic feminist book, The Feminine Mystique. The book is widely regarded as having jump-started the feminist movement of the 1960s. The reviewer for the Times, a woman, accused Friedan of making “sweeping generalities” about American culture and essentially concluded that women were to blame for their own problems. She argued that there was nothing to stop a women from reading about public affairs (but said nothing about the barriers to professional careers). Borrowing from Shakespeare, the review wrote, “The fault, dear Mrs. Friedan, is not in our culture, but in ourselves.”

Friedan and a small group of friends founded the National Organization for Women (NOW) on June 30, 1966. Subsequent critics have found a number of faults with Friedan’s book, but its impact on women in America was enormous, nonetheless.

Read Friedan’s path-breaking book: Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique (1963)

Watch a 1964 interview with Friedan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfgxHKli9CU

Read: Stephanie Coontz, A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s (2011)

Learn more: Daniel Horowitz, Betty Friedan and the Making of The Feminine Mystique: The American Left, The Cold War, and Modern Feminism (1998)

Learn more about Betty Friedan: https://www.nwhm.org/education-resources/biography/biographies/betty-friedan/

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