The Feminine Mystique | Study Guide

Betty Friedan

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The Feminine Mystique | Key Figures

Key Figure Description
Margaret Mead Margaret Mead (1901–78) earned degrees at Barnard College (BA, 1923) and Columbia University (MA, 1924; PhD, 1929), after which she became one of the 20th-century's foremost cultural anthropologists. Read More
Sigmund Freud Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) is considered the father of modern psychoanalysis. Read More
Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (1759–97) was a teacher, writer, and advocate for the rights of women. Read More
Henrik Ibsen Henrik Ibsen (1828–1906) was a Norwegian playwright whose work in translation modernized English-speaking theater. Read More
Lucy Stone Lucy Stone (1818–93) was excommunicated from her church and subsequently lectured on inaccuracies in Greek and Latin translations of the Bible, "which led to the demeaning of women." Read More
Elizabeth Cady Stanton Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815–1902), along with Lucretia Mott, held the first women's rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York. Read More
Carrie Lane Chapman Catt Carrie Lane Chapman Catt (1859–1947) founded the International Woman Suffrage Alliance in 1902 and helped found the Woman's Peace Party in 1915. Read More
Betty Friedan Author Betty Friedan (1921–2006) was a leading figure of the feminist movement throughout the 1960s and 70s. In 1966, she cofounded the National Organization for Women (NOW), which has some 550 chapters across the United States. Her book, The Feminine Mystique, is often credited with sparking the contemporary feminist movement.
Jane Addams Jane Addams (1860–1935) founded Hull House, a settlement house for recent immigrants, in 1889. She was very active in the leadership of various women's and civil rights organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), eventually winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. Friedan holds her up as an early feminist who led the way in social reform.
Susan Brownell Anthony Susan Brownell Anthony (1820–1906) was a founding member of the American Equal Rights Association and publisher of The Revolution, a radical newspaper that often called for equality between men and women. Friedan uses her as an example of a fiercely independent feminist who faced an often hostile world, traveling alone to speak and lobby for women's rights.
Erik H. Erikson Eric H. Erikson (1902–94) was an esteemed psychologist and psychoanalyst who taught at prestigious schools all over the United States, despite having never earned an advanced degree. Friedan found Erikson's work on the identity crisis crucial to her own sense of what it means to be independent, empathetic, and fully human.
Margaret Fuller Margaret Fuller (1810–50) was a brilliant intellectual and champion of women's rights and education for women. Her tract, Women in the Nineteenth Century (1845), was published by Horace Greeley. Friedan shows how Fuller's efforts were supported by the male intellectuals she surrounded herself with.
Angelina Grimké Angela Grimké (1805–79) was the youngest of 14 children, and influenced by her sister, Sarah, became a Quaker—and an abolitionist. She and Sarah crusaded to end discrimination throughout the United States, recognizing the importance of women's rights to the abolitionist movement. Friedan argues Grimké, who like some other early feminists, married unusually late, resisting marriage until she had found a sense of self in her activism.
Julia Ward Howe Julia Ward Howe (1819–1910) worked for the U.S. Sanitary Commission, promoting clean and hygienic conditions for soldiers and hospitals, and she wrote "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" (1861). In 1868 she helped found the New England Woman Suffrage Association and the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association and subsequently, with Lucy Stone, the American Woman Suffrage Association. Friedan holds her up as an example of an active feminist who worked around a husband (who was unsupportive of her efforts).
Dr. Alfred Kinsey Dr. Alfred Kinsey (1894–1956) was a biologist who founded the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University (now the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction). Kinsey published groundbreaking research—most notably, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male in 1948 and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female in 1953. Friedan draws heavily on Kinsey to make her argument for a culture in which all members benefit from the liberated sexuality of the educated, independent woman.
Pauli Murray Pauli Murray (1910-85) is a lawyer and important civil rights and women's rights activist. Murray is also the first black woman to be ordained an Episcopal priest in 1977. She was one of the cofounders, along with Friedan, of the National Organization for Women (NOW).
Ernestine Rose In the 1840s and 1850s, Ernestine Rose (1810–92) worked with the major abolitionists and women's rights advocates, maintaining that the struggles for women's rights and abolition of slavery be conjoined. Friedan cites Rose being called a "woman a thousand times below a prostitute" as an example of the sort of insult and ridicule borne by passionate women.
Margaret Sanger Margaret Sanger (1879–1966) lobbied for the repeal of the Comstock Act (a federal statute passed by the U.S. Congress in 1873), which banned sending contraceptive medications, devices, and obscene information through the mail; she founded the American Birth Control League in 1921 (which later became Planned Parenthood) and recruited American biologist and researcher Gregory Pincus to develop an oral contraceptive called Enovid, which was approved for use in 1960. Friedan uses her as an example of the pioneering bravery of the early feminists who followed their passions.
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