An Analysis of Betty Friedan’s The Problem That Has No Name

In an excerpt from her book, “The Feminine Mystique”, Betty Friedan defines women’s unhappiness during the Fifties as ”the problem that has no name.” She identifies “the problem that has no name” as upper-middle class suburban White women experiencing dissatisfaction with their lives and an inarticulated longing for something else beside their housewifely duties. She pins the blame on a media perpetuated idealized image of femininity, a social construction that tells women that their role in life is catch a man, keep a man, have children and put the needs of one’s husband and children first.

According to Friedan, women have been encouraged to confine themselves to a very narrow definition of “true” womanhood, forsaking education and career aspirations in the process by experts who wrote books, columns and books that told women during that era that their greatest role on the planet was to be wives and mothers. The role of a “real” woman was to have no interest in politics, higher education and careers and women were taught by these experts to pity women who had the nerve to want a life beyond the cult of true womanhood.

If women expressed dissatisfaction with their charmed lives, the experts blamed their feelings on the higher education they received before becoming a housewife. During the fifties, little girls as young as ten years were being marketed by underwear advertisers selling brassieres with false bottoms to aide them in catching boyfriends and American girls began getting married in high school. America’s birthrate during this time skyrocketed and college educated women made careers out of having children. The image of the beautiful, bountiful Suburban housewife was accepted as the norm and women drove themselves crazy, sometimes literally to achieve this goal.

Friedan ultimately concluded that “the problem that has no name” is not a loss of femininity, too much education, or the demands of domesticity but a stirring of rebellion of millions of women who were fed up with pretending that they were happy with their lives and that solving this problem would be the key to the future of American culture.

Madonna – My Boo

I’ve loved the musical artist and cultural icon Madonna from the moment she burst upon the scene. It was in 1983 and her song “Holiday” was being played on radio stations everywhere. On January 14, she made her national debut on American Bandstand, a staple in households across the country and she was so cool to me. I had never seen a female singer who dressed like her. And she was confident. Bold. With balls of brass.

“I Want to Rule the World”

And after that, she was everywhere. Literally. I followed her career which was easy because she was in the magazines and tabloids on a weekly basis. When she married the actor Sean Penn, the press went crazy and followed them everywhere. And she didn’t mind because she learned how to manipulate the press in such a slick manner, that they were too stupid to realize it.

During those days, all she had to do was wipe her ass and the media would bug out and accuse her of breaking down the morality of the entire world. The Catholic Church couldn’t stand her, especially in 1989 after she released the video for her song “Like a Prayer” and had the Black actor Leon portraying the role of Black Jesus. They lost their entire minds and showed their asses. Their constant bewailing led to Pepsi canceling an endorsement deal that they had with her but Madonna being Madonna didn’t lose a beat. She kept on rising.

She made several movies, won many awards and is currently the best selling female music artist of all time with 300 million albums sold all over the world. She’s also worth $850 million dollars but those statistics isn’t why Madonna is my boo.

It’s because she’s always lived her life according to her standards and needs. She’s never given a fuck about the opinions of others and I admire women who live their lives on their own terms. It’s hard being a woman in a patriarchal society in which the behavior of women is heavily regulated and most women fall in line for fear of offending the status quo. Not she. She thumbed her nose at these antiquated ideas about womanhood and look her now. Damn near a billionaire. She’s my kind of broad.