Critical Reading and Reflection Handout
Part I: Critical Reading
The Author: (Only needs to be completed once per author)
Who is the author?
What is their disciplinary background? (historian, sociologist, cultural critic, etc.)
Friedan was an author, activist and feminist.
• Wrote the Feminine Mystique in 1963
• She also wrote five other books and wrote for many magazines and newspapers
• Founded and was the first president of the National Organization for Women
How are they approaching the study of consumer culture? (e.g., historical, contemporary, etc You may need to google the author and see what other works they’ve produced, etc.)
• Friedan discusses the consumer culture of the 1950’s and 60’s
• In this chapter, she focuses on why and how advertising companies focused their attention on women and the effects this had on women.
• Her approach of the study of consumer culture had to do with women’s rights and how consumer culture affected certain rights and cultural stereotypes.
What is the author’s main “argument” or central claim? Be specific. Most arguments have more than one part!
• That the expectation of the stereotypical “housewife” of the 50’s and 60’s came from the advertising companies
• That women’s emotions could be manipulated by advertising companies to buy certain products
• Advertising companies stunted the development of the Career woman and the participation of women in the work field.
• Younger women (or teenagers) were often targeted because their emotions were more easily manipulated o They wanted to “achieve middle class status without work or study”
• She claims that the advertising companies wanted to keep women from educating themselves; it kept them from becoming career women/ independent, which was bad for business.
-How does the author support their claim? What reasons, examples, etc. do they cite? (Most authors will list a variety of reasons! Read carefully and thoroughly! Subheadings in your readings should give you an indication of various components of their argument.)
• Friedan supports her claim that the advertising companies were to blame for the perpetuation and expectation of women as housewives through her citing of the anonymous man that is paid to “manipulate the emotions of American women to serve the needs of business” o She quotes him saying that advertising companies had the goal of keeping women from becoming career women and staying at home as full time housewives in order to help business. o She says he had 300,000 interviews of American housewives that he used to help him come up with ways to keep women at home.
• Friedan supports her claim that the advertisers were focusing all their attention at housewives through her statistic that, 75% of consumers advertising budgets were spent to appeal to women.
• She quotes on of this anonymous man’s reports to one of his clients, which supports her claim that the advertising companies really were trying to manipulate women into staying at home. The goal was to keep them busy but not to busy so that they couldn’t spend time with their families and it was stressed that extra time should still be spent at home (or buying these products) o She also uses his reports to support other ways that these companies manipulated the feelings of the American Woman.
• Manipulated the “guilt feelings” of not having enough work to do or not contributing enough to the family
• Manipulated feelings of boredom to the advertisers advantage o His reports outline goals for the advertisers
• Make illusion that “housewife” is an occupation
• House cleaning is fun not endless
• What she does is important and meaningful
• Not just anyone can do these things
• Make products appear to be luxury items
• Relieve “drudgery” but not too much
• Get them while they’re young
• Certain “luxury” products are necessities (furs)