Betty Friedan

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About the book

Feminist activist, author and social psychologist Betty Friedan was one of the most disruptive, era-defining voices of the 20th century. Her best-known work, The Feminine Mystique, is hailed as ‘the book that started second-wave feminism’.

But who was she? What did she say?
And where did those ground-breaking ideas come from?

This book begins by telling the story of Friedan’s life and times, giving the reader a unique insight into her rebellious character and the conservative world in which she lived. It then examines her most revolutionary ideas and political battles, before going on to examine her trailblazing activism and its continuing legacies.

Chapter 1: Friedan's Life Story

Chapter 2: Influences on Friedan's Thinking

Chapter 3: The Problem That Has No Name
This chapter looks at Friedan's investigation of the mysterious and devastating depression that was affecting affluent women in the 1960s. These were women who supposedly 'had it all' – so what was causing them to feel that they were dead inside? Friedan explores n detail how the solutions offered to the women were misogynist, and offers a new one of her own.

Chapter 4: Friedan Vs. Freud
This chapter reveals the part Freudian theory had to play in the feminine mystique and the continuing idea that for women, 'anatomy is destiny'. Friedan takes on Freudian theory on women and refutes its validity.

Chapter 5: Awareness Without Action is Pointless
Charting the organizations that Friedan set up and helped to run, this chapter shows how Friedan moved from theory to action. It explores the organizations, their opposition, their triumphs and their legacies.

About the author

Betty Londergan began her writing career in journalism, spent most of her working life as a Creative Director in advertising, then went on to write two books on motherhood: I’m too Sexy for my Volvo, and The Agony and the Agony. She created two year-long blogging projects: What Gives 365, giving away $100 per day to causes she felt were making the world a better place, and Heifer 12x12, travelling to 18 countries in 12 months with Heifer International. Betty lives in Atlanta with her husband. 


"Betty Friedan was a name I’d seen pop up in various places regarding feminism but I had no real knowledge of her or her work. This book was perfect for providing me with everything I wanted to know (and more) in an easy-to-read manner, which was perfect considering I have absolutely no political jargon in my vocabulary! Elements of other thinkers were linked in to her work at different stages and a personal history was included too. I felt this combination provided a more well-rounded view of her work than I expected. I loved the content of this book so much that I’ve put “The Feminine Mystique” on my reading list. It takes a great book to spark a new exciting feeling for a person or subject, and that’s exactly what this one has done for me!"

Claire Allison | Masters student, Edinburgh University