Development can indeed continue beyond childhood and youth, beyond the seventies. It can continue until the very end of life, given purposes that challenge and use our human abilities. . . . In sum, our development does not necessarily end at any age. We can continue to develop into our eighties, even to our nineties.
I was at a meeting two years ago in Beijing, and I passed a bunch of women who were marching in a protest. Their signs were probably saying something I wouldn't have agreed with at all. But I was so glad to see women marching. And it's happening all over the world.
The key to the trap is, of course, education. The feminine mystique has made higher education for women seem suspect, unnecessary and even dangerous. But I think that education, and only education, has saved, and can continue to save, American women from the greater dangers of the feminine mystique.
What had really caused the women's movement was the additional years of human life. At the turn of the century women's life expectancy was forty-six; now it was nearly eighty. Our groping sense that we couldn't live all those years in terms of motherhood alone was "the problem that had no name." Realizing that it was not some freakish personal fault but our common problem as women had enabled us to take the first steps to change our lives.
Over and over again, stories in women's magazines insist that women can know fulfillment only at the moment of giving birth to a child. They deny the years when she can no longer look forward to giving birth, even if she repeats the act over and over again. In the feminine mystique, there is no other way for a woman to dream of creation or of the future. There is no other way she can even dream about herself, except as her children's mother, her husband's wife.
I never set out to write a book to change women's lives, to change history. It's like, 'Who, me?' Yes, me. I did it. And I'm not that different from other women. Maybe my power and glory was that I could speak my truth as a woman and it was the truth of every woman.
In almost every professional field, in business and in the arts and sciences, women are still treated as second-class citizens. It would be a great service to tell girls who plan to work in society to expect this subtle, uncomfortable discrimination-tell them not to be quiet, and hope it will go away, but fight it. A girl should not expect special privileges because of her sex, but neither should she "adjust" to prejudice and discrimination.
American housewives have not had their brains shot away, nor are they schizophrenic in the clinical sense. But if ... the fundamental human drive is not the urge for pleasure or the satisfaction of biological needs, but the need to grow and to realize one's full potential, their comfortable, empty, purposeless days are indeed cause for a nameless terror.
It is easier to live through someone else than to complete yourself. The freedom to lead and plan your own life is frightening if you have never faced it before. It is frightening when a woman finally realizes that there is no answer to the question 'who am I' except the voice inside herself.
There are some die-hard male chauvinist pigs and there are some Neanderthal women who are threatened by equality - but the great majority, polls say 65% to 75% of women of America, of all ages, absolutely identify with the complete agenda of the women's movement: equal opportunity for jobs, education, professional training, the right to control your own body - your own reproductive process, freedom of choice, child care-the whole agenda.
There's increasing consciousness that a "command and control" style of management which one associates with a male model isn't necessarily what works anymore, especially with small to medium sized companies. There's increasing evidence that a more flexible management style, where responsibility is distributed up and down the line, is what works best. And that kind of management style is one that will allow individual workers more flexibility - men and women.
The man who is extremely and dangerously hungry has no other interest but food. Capacities not useful for the satisfying of hunger are pushed into the background. 'But what happens to man's desires when there is plenty of food and his belly in chronically filled? At once, other (and higher) needs emerge and these, rather than the psychological hungers, dominate the organism.
Aging is not 'lost youth,' but a new stage of opportunity and strength. It's a different stage of life, and if you are going to pretend it's youth, you are going to miss it. You are going to miss the surprises, the possibilities, and the evolution that we are just beginning to know about because there are no role models, no guideposts, and no signs.
Men, also, have in them enormous capacities that they have to repress and fear in themselves, living up to this obsolete and brutal man-eating, bear-killing, Ernest Hemingway, crewcut Prussian sadistic, napalm all the children in Vietnam, bang-bang you're dead, image of masculinity, the image of all powerful masculine superiority that is absolute.
Each suburban wife struggles with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night- she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question-- 'Is this all?
I'm against suppression of pornography. If you suppress guns - yes; if you want to suppress poverty - yes. These are the obscenities, the real brutalization of people. I am almost more outraged by ads for blue jeans or cars that sort of blatantly depict women not only as sex objects, but women that look younger than the age of consent, looking like they've just been raped or asking to be raped-utterly passive sex objects.
The only kind of work which permits an able woman to realize her abilities fully, to achieve identity in society in a life plan that can encompass marriage and motherhood, is the kind that was forbidden by the feminine mystique, the lifelong commitment to an art or science, to politics or profession. If divorce has increased by one thousand percent, don't blame the women's movement. Blame the obsolete sex roles on which our marriages were based.
The media and even, to some degree, leaders of women's organizations don't understand that the women's movement is an absolute part of society now. It is in the consciousness, it is taken for granted. It is part of the way women look at themselves, and women are looked at.
The problem lay buried, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American women. It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning [that is, a longing] that women suffered in the middle of the 20th century in the United States. Each suburban [house]wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries ... she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question - 'Is this all?
Having expressed the rage against the laws and conditions that oppressed them - maybe even excess anger in the beginning was directed at men they came in contact with, because it had been pent up too long - women now come from a new position of easier, more comfortable self-affirmation and empowerment. Women are given to tolerance and are more able to love. I hope it happens also to men.
The real joke that history played on American women is not the one that makes people snigger, with cheap Freudian sophistication, at the dead feminists. It is the joke that Freudian thought played on living women, twisting the memory of the feminists into the man-eating phantom of the feminine mystique, shriveling the very wish to be more than just a wife and mother.
There needs to be bolder thinking, ... on how to measure the quality of life of men and women in the work force. Currently, success is measured by material advancements. We need to readjust the definition of success to account for time outside of work and satisfaction of life, not just the dollars-and-cents bottom line.
There's no question that the black middle class has benefited greatly by the civil rights movement. But there is a large black underclass that does not have access to jobs. If there's no clear road to income and status except crime, we should expect social problems. You can't solve this problem without addressing the economic issues, and the same is true with gender.
Strange new problems are being reported in the growing generations of children whose mothers were always there, driving them around, helping them with their homework --an inability to endure pain or discipline or pursue any self-sustained goal of any sort, a devastating boredom with life.
Feminism or the family? Carried to excess maybe. I have insisted that women cannot be defined solely in those terms. But for a great many women - not all, because we are only beginning to realize and affirm the diversity of women themselves - choosing motherhood makes motherhood itself a liberating choice.