Fifty years ago Betty Friedan published "The Feminine Mystique." It's been called one of the most important books of the 20th century. Stephanie Coontz is the author of a book about the impact of "The Feminine Mystique." It's called "A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s." Coontz says she was 19 when the book was published and she heard about it from her mom. Ross Reynolds talks with Coontz about the impact and importance of the book that many say sparked the second-wave feminist movement.
Betty Friedan, co-founder of National Organization for Women (NOW), speaks during the Women's Strike for Equality event in New York on Aug. 26, 1970, the 50th anniversary of women's suffrage.
Credit Dennis Cook / AP
Leading supporters of the Equal Rights Amendment march in Washington on Sunday, July 9, 1978, urging Congress to extend the time for ratification of the ERA. From left: Gloria Steinem, Dick Gregory, Betty Friedan, Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman, D-N.Y., Rep. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., Rep. Margaret Heckler, R-Mass.
In 1963, Betty Friedan called it "the problem that has no name" and then proceeded to name it — and the name stuck. The problem was "The Feminine Mystique," which was also the title of her groundbreaking book, published 50 years ago.
Since its first publication in 1963, millions of people have read The Feminine Mystique. These days, many people read it in college — often in women's studies classes. Even so, when we talked with some young women in downtown Washington, D.C., many knew little or nothing about it.