Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Review of The Second Stage by Betty Friedan

This book review was written by Eugene Kernes   

Book can be found in: 
Genre = Sociology
Book Club Event = Book List (12/21/2024)
Intriguing Connections = 1) The Persecuted and The Persecutors, 2) Relationships, Right?

Watch Short Review


The second stage cannot be seen in terms of women alone, our separate personhood or equality with men.  The second stage involves coming to new terms with the family – new terms with love and with work.  The second stage may not even be a women’s movement.  Men may be at the cutting edge of the second stage.  |  The second stage has to transcend the battle for equal power in institutions.  The second stage will restructure institutions and transform the nature of power itself.” – Betty Friedan, Chapter, Page 28

“And so, new questions have to be asked about women’s experience today that may have been hidden or unanticipated by feminist assumptions.  These questions couldn’t be asked before – and experts, including feminists, can’t answer them yet – because women simply didn’t have the same choices before.” – Betty Friedan, Chapter 2: The Half-Life of Reaction, Page 71

“On the emotional bottom line, younger women are shortchanging their own personhood, perpetuating old dilemmas or engaging in the wrong power battles because of their blind spot about the family.  Even if women do not lose heart for the battle, as they surely will, there is no way out of the deadlock, the impasse, if we keep on fighting, even thinking, in terms of women alone, or women against men.” – Betty Friedan, Chapter 3: The Family as New Feminist Frontier, Page 83


Is This An Overview?

The first stage was about women getting power parity with men.  Showing that women can do more than just be housewives.  But as women entered the workforce, there was a clash between work and family.  Between work and any other pursuits.  The second stage is about the changing roles of work and family, to find better alternative ways on how to be.  The second stage is about reconciling demands of independence with emotional needs. 

Women and men need each other for emotional, financial, and other needs.  When someone is dependent on someone else, psychological insecurities develop that make any relationship difficult.  Those who lack independence, tend to lack confidence in themselves, and take out their frustrations on the one they are dependent on.  When a woman performed many household tasks and participated in supporting the man’s ambition, women did not receive the monetary benefits or recognition for their efforts, while the men could not function without the support.  When the man was the sole monetary earner, the man was extremely anxious about job prospects, forcing them to stay at terrible jobs.  When men and women share the monetary, family, and emotional burdens, they have higher chances of economic survival and live more fulfilling lives. 



This is a sensitive topic that shares the complexity of the situation.  The second stage came about through new demands on social and economic life that needed a response.  As society changes, so must the responses.  Each society, each era, need to find their own responses to their different situations.

There are passages with various diverse perspectives that provide evidence for claims.  They can provide addition explanations, but can lack a systemic analysis. 

Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?  Why do people read this book?
•What are some limitations of the book?
•To whom would you suggest this book?
•What is the first stage?
•What is the second stage?
•What happened to women as they entered the workforce?
•Why is there a clash between work and family?
•Should women go to war? 
•What is a superwoman? 
•How did feminism handle the emotional needs of women? 
•How did the lifespan effect women?
•How was feminism simplified and what is needed to understand the complexity of feminism? 
•Are men the enemy? 
•How are women harming themselves by perpetuating old dilemmas? 
•What happed to tasks that transitioned from women having to participate in to having the option and opportunity?  
•What happened when women helped their men with men’s ambitions? 
•How do daughters think of their mothers?
•What were women’s unpaid work?
•Who is holding who up? 
•What was the psychological state of men when they had female partner that depended on the men?  How did men change when the partner was not dependent on them? 
•What was the psychological state of women when they were dependent on the man?  What happened when the women were not dependent? 
•Why is it harder to understand how men changed? 
•How were women treated when they took up traditionally male occupations?
•How were men treated when they took up traditionally female occupations?
•Why are men threatened by women’s movement? 
•What were women’s West Point experience? 
•How did the military respond to the changing role of women? 
•What are masculine and feminine styles of leadership? 

Book Details
Publisher:               SUMMIT BOOKS [Simon & Schuster]
Edition ISBN:         0671410342
Pages to read:          329
Publication:             1981
1st Edition:              1981
Format:                    Hardcover

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          5
Overall          5