7. The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan, April 7
I picked this one up because it’s been said that anyone who considers themselves a feminist should read this, that this book is part of the foundation of modern feminism. I’d like to say that overall, I consider myself a humanist, rather than just a feminist. However, living here in Japan at this point in time, I’ve been leaning towards feminism in general.
There are a lot of things here that make me feel like I’ve stepped into an episode of Mad Men: women going to college to find a good husband. Women getting jobs at ‘good companies’ to find a good husband. Women quitting their jobs after they get married or get pregnant because they’re ‘not supposed to work anyway, it’s most important to raise the kids’. It’s so shocking to see that getting women back into the workplace after having children is still an issue here.
So to pick up this book and read it now, in 2016, in Japan, was kind of crazy. It wasn’t crazy because it was strange, it was crazy because of how close to home it was hitting, having been written over 50 years ago. This is accepted as history in the US, and while there are still issues around getting women equal pay in the workplace and still having a tax on tampons (because apparently people WANT US to bleed all over all of their shit?), I think we can say the US is going pretty well. Not the best, but well. Better than when Friedan wrote the book.
But in Japan, the issues she covers in the book are still completely relevant. 100%. And that’s pretty terrifying.
It’s so well-rounded. It covers everything. I can’t imagine how much trouble she had to go through to do all of this research, get the book published and then sell it back then. Except I guess I can kind of imagine it happening today in Japan. Maybe just a little.
I had no issue with anything Friedan wrote in the book, and appreciate her thoughts on how to fix ‘the problem that has no name’. It’s too bad we can’t have some of those tips over here in Japan. I can’t imagine this book hasn’t been translated into Japanese.
It’s a book every woman should read. Not just every feminist, or woman who thinks she might be a feminist. Men should read it. Everyone should read it. But then again, everyone should be treating each other equally. I guess we’re not quite there yet.