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September 1963

The Feminine Mystique.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1963;9(3):307-309. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1963.01720150117017

This is an interesting, informative, and stimulating book. One comes to this opinion, however, only if one is willing to overcome a resistance against the passionate tone that pervades the author's presentation. Writing with superior mastery of the equipment of the social psychologist, eg, questionnaires, statistics, and individual interviews directed toward particular aspects of hypotheses, the author seems at first to mystify the problem which she then elucidates in its essential significance for current American culture.

Her thesis is that, in the 15 years since World War II, the "mystery of feminine fulfilment"—sex and motherhood—has become the cherished and self-perpetuating core of American culture. As "Occupation: Housewife" became glorified, women were trapped in "happy-housewifehood"; they gave up education, independence, and self-realization. They withdrew into early marriages, multiple motherhood, and thus became the victims of the "problem that has no name" which turns out to be boredom originating in

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