The Shrew

The Shrew


A Closer Look at Second Wave Feminism

February 06, 2020

A Closer Look at Second Wave Feminism

Today we are talking...feminist history! Not just any feminist history, not revisionist history, but a real, true look at the past. After all, it is black history month. 
But, before we get started, I have to talk about Sex Education. 
I mean I’m sure most of you know Sex Education came out with its second season on Netflix.  I absolutely, love this show. It's somehow done a wonderful job of being comedic, educational, and inclusive.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil anything for those who haven’t seen it, or are in the process of finishing it up. 

But, there was one moment of the show that really got me. I mean tearing up, feeling it in my heart, ya know. It was a moment of pure support, pure sisterhood, of pure community. 
I absolutely loved this scene. Watching these young women, who swore up and down they had nothing in common, finally, come together and support each other was beautiful. Okay, okay, okay, I won't spoil anymore.





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Second Wave Feminism and Betty Friedan
But this scene, really got me thinking. It took me back down memory lane, if you will. A lane that I wasn’t really able to walk considering I wasn’t born yet, but same thing.

The sisterhood and support I saw on Sex Education, immediately reminded me of second-wave feminism and the tactics women used during this time. 
But, don’t you dare think we’re going to talk about second-wave feminism without a conversation about race. I mean the civil rights movement was happening at the same time folks. 

To jump-start our historical dive, let’s look to Betty Friedan. 


Friedan is often said to have started the second wave of feminism with her book The Feminine Mystique, which was published in 1963. 
But, Friedan wasn't the first to write and think in a way that was radical and characteristic of the second wave of feminist ideologies.

 In fact, second wave thinker Simone de Beauvoir, who wrote The Second Sex, had been published in 1949 in France, and 1953 in the US. Both of which, preceding Friedan's The Feminine Mystique.
The intellect and ideology behind Friedan’s book had in fact been done before, but it was how far Friedan was able to spread her message that was significant. 
The Feminine Mystique was a hit, and her book was selling faster than a hot knife cutting through butter. Less southern, and more specifically, Friedan sold 3 million copies of The Feminine Mystique within 3 years. 
What is "The Feminine Mystique"
So what was all the hullabaloo about? What was this feminine mystique? And what made it oh, so mysterious? Well, The Feminine Mystique protests what Friedan labeled as “the problem that has no name.” 
The problem without a name being systematic sexism that determined a woman’s rightful place was at home.
And, if a woman was unhappy in her place as a housewife, then the fault lies with her.
In other words, she’s broken because being a housewife is not only what she should be doing, but is in fact her whole purpose.