1968: The Global Revolutions

Women’s Liberation: “Sisterhood is Powerful!!” > The Feminine Mystique

The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan’s 1963 bestseller, declared a woman’s right to occupations outside the home. Primarily addressing the lives of middle-class white housewives, the “mystique” in her title referred to “a body of myths and accepted truths – that all the American woman has to do to fulfill herself is to catch a man and devote her life to caring for him, their children and their home.” Research for the book began when Friedan conducted a survey among female college graduates. Upon learning that most of these women felt unfulfilled, bored, and even averse to their domestic lives, Friedan sent out her surveys more broadly, eventually amassing enough information about this “problem which has no name” to complete the book. The Feminine Mystique remained on the New York Times Bestseller List for six weeks, while Friedan remained active in the women’s liberation movement, founding the National Organization for Women.

Friedan, Betty 
The Feminine Mystique
W.W. Norton, 1963

Betty Friedan
Photograph, 1963
Curtis Brown, Ltd.. Records

W. Colston Leigh, Inc.
Press Information, 1963
Curtis Brown, Ltd.. Records

Rare Book & Manuscript Library / Butler Library, 6th Fl. East / 535 West 114th St. / New York, NY 10027 / (212) 854-5153 / rbml@libraries.cul.columia.edu