Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Feminine Mystique (my opinion)

It seems like all my old college friends still take time to think about various philosophical questions, so with that good example, I should also post something besides daily life...

For no reason, I've been thinking about Betty Friedan's Feminine Mystique. I read it in college just for the heck of it, and honestly it seems like a lot of people get this book wrong. People seem to think it's some diatribe against the stay-at-home-mom or whatever, but really that issue is a bit tangential to the whole point Friedan is trying to make. She's more on a diatribe against Pride & Greed as she saw them taking root in the 50s and 60s. 

As Friedan records, there was a lot more obsession with domesticity and the family on television, literature, advertizing, etc. In this particular era's mindset, being the perfect housewife had less to do with actually caring about your family and more to do with having the most perfectly dressed children on the block and the most perfectly kept house and housewife. How did you beat out all your neighbors in this dogfight of domesticity? By buying all the latest cool gadgets, of course!

And since there was a lot of pressure for women to take a domestic role, women had a lot of energy to devote to keeping up with the Joneses. The problem is that no real family can ever be picture-perfect. And there's nothing left for a woman to do or accomplish after she gets married and has children. The children might get older, but she certainly should stay looking perfect. At the very least, this mindset is a major problem when the children finally do grow up and move out. A mother would lose her whole identity.

Friedan's response is that people should see themselves as individuals first and as a role second. And not get tied up in this whole marketing game. Do anything--paint, write, be involved in the community--as long as you liked it for itself and not how it contributed to your image. Friedan isn't against working mothers in The Feminine Mystique, but she doesn't say everyone should go to work either. It's more about changing self perception.

So I think maybe this book got a lot of flak because of the title. Friedan makes some good points, and it seems like someone more developed as an individual has more to offer in relationships and can actually care for a family better than someone whose self esteem is entirely wrapped up in fulfilling a certain role.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Internet and Birthday

Due to the internet being down at my sharehouse, have not been able to make any new posts on my blog since I returned to Japan. However, it's back up!

This year I ended up working on my birthday, which felt disappointingly grown up. Can't a company schedule its holidays based around the day I was born??? But my friends did not forget me. On the bright side, I actually ended up with two cakes this year!

The second cake was a surprise. I ended up teaching a conversation class at a cafe on Tuesday, my birthday, and I told everyone it was my birthday and asked them birthday related questions. After the class the owner of the cafe asked me if I could stay for five minutes and then gave me this totally cute piece of chocolate cake! (Yes, I had told people my favorite cake flavor too.) And another student who was staying to have dinner bought me a drink. It was a nice way to end the day.