How Do You Talk About THE FEMININE MYSTIQUE On Its 50th Anniversary?
I’ve stared at this blank piece of virtual paper for the last twenty minutes wondering how to start talking about The Feminine Mystique on the occasion of its 50th Anniversary.
Liz Phair’s music thunders in my ears, the soundtrack to my personal sexual revolution, and still I got nothing.
How do you talk about a book like The Feminine Mystique?
Do you spend all your paragraphs discussing its shortcomings, how the book caters to the plight of upper-middle-class heterosexual white women?
Do you type about how far we have come? How far we’ve yet to go? How everything and nothing has changed at the same time? How when you read chapter two, “The Happy Housewife Heroine,” about Women’s magazines and how much of Women’s writing was focused on the rearing of children and the keeping of house and it just made you think of all those million billion mommy bloggers?
And this, of course, just leads you to thinking about the weird animosity between women who choose to be mothers and women who choose not to be mothers, as if we shouldn’t be celebrating every women’s ability to choose her path, and that doesn’t even begin to get at the whole stay-at-home mother vs. working mothers crap, and it makes you wonder why we are even fighting over such petty differences when we should be united in our universal struggle for equality because we are all better when we are all equal. Someone famous said that. It wasn’t Betty Freidan.
Do you go on and on about how you spent the spring of 2010 in the bathtub weeping with anger while listening to Parker Posey read the Audible version of The Feminine Mystique? How you felt the lights go on and pieces of your soul shift and click into place? Then do you tell people the way you spent those early warm days of 2010 going on endlessly about what you learned in the book and how you could hear yourself getting longwinded and would apologize and then your friend Steve said to never apologize for calling out sexism when you see it?
Do you talk about how you kind of bucked under the label feminist until you were thirty-eight because when you came of age in the 90s Rush Limbaugh was all over the place talking about feminazis, and you were too wrapped up in your twentysomething bullshit to realize that you could be a feminist who loves men and you didn’t have to be a baby-doll dress wearing, smudgy red-lipsticked RiotGrrl to be a feminist?
Do you just throw up your arms and say “Holy Hell The Feminine Mystique is fifty and that is awesome. Let’s get back to fighting the good fight my sisters and brothers and dismantle this bullshit patriarchy.”
Yeah, I think that’s what you do.