Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Betty Friedan on America's Suburban Family Houshold - a comfortable concentration camp

In a new book, "Betty Friedan and the Making of the Feminine Mystique", Smith College professor Daniel Horowitz (no relation) establishes beyond doubt that the woman who has always presented herself as a typical suburban housewife until she began work on her groundbreaking book was in fact nothing of the kind. In fact, under her maiden name, Betty Goldstein, she was a political activist and professional propagandist for the Communist left for a quarter of a century before the publication of "The Feminist Mystique" launched the modern women's movement.
Professor Horowitz documents that Friedan was from her college days, until her mid-30s, a Stalinist Marxist, the political intimate of the leaders of America's Cold War fifth column and for a time even the lover of a young Communist physicist working on atomic bomb projects in Berkeley's radiation lab with J. Robert Oppenheimer. Her famous description of America's suburban family household as "a comfortable concentration camp" in "The Feminine Mystique" therefore had more to do with her Marxist hatred for America... You can read more in Prof. Horowitz's book " Betty Friedan and the Making of the Feminine Mystique". You can also check out his webpage http://www.smith.edu/history/faculty_dhorowitz.php

Prof. Horowitz's book is revealing and yet not so surprising to me. Why? Because, Friedan's study (to be highly criticized in terms of racial demography, and in terms of geography and also lacking in detail of education and income per household - regarding husband's role) showed only marginal dissatisfaction among similar (again 'similar' is a vague term) housewives. In fact, Friedan concluded that the dissatisfaction was a female problem. This suggests to me, considering the time of the study, in my interpretation as a social interactionist that the female problem pointed by Friedan was due to a miscommunication of the role of woman as wife and mother- an inadequate transfer of information by their mothers who experienced social trauma which at that time was most likely caused by the second world war, wherein there was loss of a husband, or one who came back half a husband, or she having to leave the role of mother and work in a factory while the husband was at war and or experiencing a falling away from Christian faith due to lack of Christian family support system). Even so, we can find such outcomes 'dissatisfaction' to exist among every kind of work detail and or responsibility in every kind of career and or professional position: from CEO's to bankers to grave diggers. I found myself dissatisfied teaching at university, my dissatisfaction was in college student's inability to read and write - well surfed and not well read.
Today, statistics show that women are more than ever before subjected to higher levels of stress from working both outside the home and at home, trying to juggle both realities while their family suffers. More than before, women are unmarried and having fewer children.
  • In 2010 women in America hit a major milestone – for the first time women outnumbered men in the U.S. workforce and in 2011 it went up to 53%, a threshold never reached before in the history of our nation. Today women account for just under half. 
  • A record 40% of all households with children under the age of 18 have mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family, according to the Census Bureau. In 1960, it was only 11%.   
Well, as it turns out, “having it all” has really led to more stress for women. We can also witness that the role of 'mother' is being down played or worse rejected.  Who is taking its place, not father likely he is not there and nor is he encouraged to be there, so who/what is? The State is.
I understand that we in our contemporary 'post  modern' era that both parents have to work to support a family. However, if more women took greater care to be educated household economists, and I know a few, they would not have to spend themselves working for someone else and would have more quality time for their husbands and children. 
There is a way to be a true woman which I think Betty Friedan was really about discovering, but perhaps not being a Christian, she could not see the way forward. What is that way? We need to seek the Lord's help. We need to ask Him to help us find greater freedom, fullness and fruitfulness in Christ. A true woman will go deep into God's Word and discover there her womanhood, her true role. 


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    2. Matthew 19:4 Jesus said " Haven't you read, that the Creator made them male and female; and said, For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?"