Cold War Comparative: Women of the Decades Essay

Submitted By hkenney
Words: 1007
Pages: 5

The Feminine Mystique, by Betty Friedan outlines how women of the 1950s and 60s desired and craved to be more than the housewives and mothers they were taught to be. That feeling of desperation to be something more affected the women of that time, but then it dissipated with the increase in their involvement in the workforce. Women in the 50s and 60s were raised to believe that their goal in life was “finding a husband and bearing children”, but when their family consisted of five children at school and a husband at work all day, the monotonous chores of daily life began to eat away at their ambitions. They were no longer satisfied with simply being a mother and a housewife. They felt “incomplete” with their lives and they felt as if “there [was] nothing to look forward to” (Friedan). They tried being active in their community and that didn’t help them, then they tried having husbands and large families but that didn’t work either. They needed something that they were passionate about to occupy their time. The change from the majority of women being unemployed and unhappy to the majority being happy and employed came about over the course of decades. In the 1950s, the percentage of women in the work force was about 25.4. While in 2010, 60 years later, the percentage was 58.6 (Women). That increase in percentage is the result of the women’s incompleteness vanishing and getting replaced with fulfillment. “Economies flourish when women are included” because they reinvest the money they earn while working at their jobs forming more stable homes and thus happier women (Ellison). When women are involved in the workplace, they cause the economy to flourish, which in turn will cause the women to make more money for the household. When there is more money in a residence, stress will be lifted from the mother’s shoulders and they will be happier. The correlation between the unhappiness of unemployed women in the 1950s and 60s, and the happiness of women in the 21st century who have careers is clear.
When women are given the opportunity to explore their full potential, their true identity will come to light. In The Feminine Mystique, by Betty Friedan, women describe their feelings as “incomplete”, but that was only because they had not been given the opportunity to rise up and feel whole. Before they knew they were missing a purpose in life, that they were holding themselves back, but then they acknowledged that they “want[ed] more than [their] husbands and [their] own children and [their] home[s]” and gave themselves a chance to achieve their full potential (Friedan). The average lifestyle of getting married, buying a home, and then having children didn’t satisfy them. The normality was making them despondent and making them loose connection with the world around them. They didn’t accept the unsettling feelings which were plaguing their lives; they fought over what was wrong. This battle revealed that they would not give up and admit that they were unhappy. They persevered and showed that when faced with the opportunity, they would show their true identity which is resilient and rise to the occasion. While women in the 50s and 60s had to overcome their feelings, Mary Anne in the chapter, Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong, from the book, The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien, was exposed to a new way of living and that was the trigger which allowed her to access her true identity. In The Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong, an officer at a medical base has his girlfriend fly across the world to him and when she arrives at the base, she is a blond-haired, blue-eyed, innocent girl from the States. Her arriving at this alien place in Vietnam is her opportunity to reach her full potential, she has the chance to adapt