Feminine Mystique And Black Boy Comparison Fighting for survival and status within the world has been in affect since the Stone Age. It starts with man against beast battling for survival. As time goes on, so does the type of battle, from beast to man against man. When conquerors from Europe come over to North America they push the Indians west because they, the Indians, do not fit into the society the white man creates and there are differences that are noticeable. Later on there becomes discrimination against blacks with the Jim Crow Laws and the silencing of women. Throughout history there are more examples where people do not fit into the “norm” of society. Betty Friedan and Richard Wright in their novels The Feminine Mystique and Black Boy both experience different forms of oppression.
As Betty Friedan discusses a problem that has no name, but mainly how a woman is enslaved in a man’s society, while Richard Wright tries to overcome the Jim Crow south by attacking racial identity. “But forbidden to join man in the world, can women be people” (Friedan 50)? Friedan illustrates this point throughout her book. The fore-sisters of Friedan fought for the passage of the nineteenth amendment which was passed in August of 1920. The passage of this amendment was largely due to the women’s contribution to the war effort, the goal was declared about seventy-two years before, during the Seneca Falls convention in 1848. Throughout this time, women became immersed in their education and their own self-worth. Searching for jobs and not husbands is the focus. During this period the national birth rate declines since the women are not home at the man’s beck and call. As the times change so does the written word about the female place in the world. According to Friedan, experts are telling the women that the only way to seek fulfillment in their lives is as a wife and mother.
Which in one word is femininity. Now, the dream is of an American woman behind the stove, not behind a desk. The women stuck at home “all shared the same problem, the problem that has no name” (Friedan 19). Friedan gives these women a vocabulary for their dissatisfaction, the feminine mystique. There is no other way for a woman to be a woman of admirable exploits unless she is a housewife. Friedan paints the feminine woman of this time as having feelings of emptiness, non-existence and nothingness. She illustrates these problems that women face by telling the reader that the experts blame their feelings on the higher education they have received before becoming a housewife.
All women are searching for is a human identity, a place where they belong without feeling empty. But the women before this generation fought for all the rights they have in the present, but they are not using them. But how can one change this dehumanizing aspect of the culture? Friedan portrays the idea of helping women with the feminine mystique that has gone on for more than twenty years. This is not a small problem, but a national one that has effected the majority of the women in the United States. Friedan’s ideas range from helping women get back into college and re-educate themselves, getting out into the workforce.
Therefore freeing themselves from the feminine mystique. But this can only be accomplished if the rest of the nation is also allowing of this change to happen. As the women want to alter their lifestyles, universities do not allow women to enter their university by not admitting anyone who wants to further their education (graduate study) and part-time students. These rules bar women from entering to gain knowledge. But the time is at hand when the voices of the feminine mystique can no longer drown out the inner voice that is driving women on to become complete (Friedan 378). The women now are taking their life into their own hands and not listening to the experts, their husbands, or the culture. Just as Friedan discusses the feminine mystique holding women back, Richard Wright attacks racial identity and the oppression he himself faces as an African American man living in the United States. Friedan points out the myths that arise from society are similar to Wright’s dialogue in his novel that: The image of the feminists as inhuman, fiery man-eaters, whether expressed as an offense against God or in the modern terms of sexual perversion, is not unlike the stereotype of the Negro as a primitive animal (Friedan 87).
This illustrates that the views people hold toward others are stereotypical because the outcasts are not the “white man” that dominates the world. Being different makes the world interesting, if everyone looked and dressed the same the world would be boring. Yet no one can get beyond the color difference or the gender difference. Like the women feeling a void in their lives by being a housewife, African American men, like Wright feel an emptiness. This emptiness, like the women Friedan describes, is the lack of self-worth in the world. African Americans lack education, but Richard Wright who had a man delivering coal to teach him the numbers and later on the alphabet then Wright begins to fill ” a new hunger,” the hunger for reading and gaining knowledge.
Since education is power, white men do not want the African Americans to gain that power to have them achieve something in the “real world.” But: whites were as miserable as their black victims.. [i]f this country can’t find its way to a human path..then all of us, black as well as white, are going down the same drain (Wright 383). Wright brings forth a good point that by holding one race back it may be holding back the whole world. For once, an African American male or female may have been put on this world to make a purpose in our lives, and by not fulfilling their minds with knowledge to help them achieve that goal we are set behind. Just as Friedan points out that “America’s greatest source of unused brainpower was women” (Friedan 17).
But it was not the culture of the society that holds people back, it is also yourself if you as a person can not fight back and educate yourself against what society thinks is right, you fail yourself. Knowledge is power and those who do not have the spirit to gain that knowledge will fall deep within the cracks and will not be able to survive. But Richard Wright fights to fulfill his hunger of education that is denied to him. The roles of the African Americans are mapped out for them, making them follow to the set aspirations society has for them. Just as society does for the women in Friedan’s novel were to aspire to be a housewife. Overall, Friedan and Wright though coming from two different times and places both focus on oppression of the mind.
The oppression that brings this world against one another is destroying each person. With education being told as being for the “white man” only and our roles outlined by society, we try not to go against them. But we should not let our culture hold us back if we feel a void by not achieving what we as a person and equal in this world want. English Essays.