The 50th-anniversary edition of a modern classic, featuring an introduction by Gail Collins and an afterword by Anna Quindlen.
A great deal has changed since Friedan’s monumental book was published, but readers should not be discouraged from revisiting it. In 1929, Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own helped define the goals women had been seeking for 100 years, and Friedan picked up the ball and drove it forward, giving women the right and the will to “be.” The days of functional education are gone—no more college courses on marriage—and the image of the “little woman” is also a thing of the past; women are no longer just living vicariously through husbands and children. What still lingers is the exaltation of housework, the need for a “woman’s touch” and the advertising industry’s continued attempts at glorifying the role of women in family and society. Having a man cooking, putting away the groceries or holding the baby doesn’t change the old image of Mom running the house and Dad earning the living. The author notes that in the 1930s and ’40s, women were more likely to apply their college educations in meaningful careers, even though many still ran the house. The onset of World War II changed all that. Suddenly, it was society that defined what a woman was, ignoring the constant quest for “something more.” Also included in this edition of the groundbreaking book is the introduction to the 10th-anniversary edition and Friedan’s 1997 piece, “Metamorphosis: Two Generations Later.”
A vastly significant book that has made a world of difference, much of it slowly acquired.