Charity Hitt MMC 6660 Blog

University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications

Analyze This Week 9

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The connection between Cooley’s The Process of Social Change and the phenomenon inspired by Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique as discussed in the review Books as Bombs as well as Stephanie Coontz review, is one that is obvious in terms of the concept of a dominant discourse.  In Cooley’s article, he discusses that even before the media existed, the idea of a dominant discourse, or ‘common sense’ way of life was prevalent amidst societies. In early societies, there existed communities of discorse, and if you did not understand your neighbor, Cooley explains, you had three options; separate, enslave, or go to war.  He states “A meagre environment limited the development of innate tendencies and capacities, and the comparative sameness of thought and action reflected the narrowness of the general life,” (pg. 76).

Centuries later we arrive at the 1950s, where the dominant discourse of a woman’s role being in the home was not only assumed as ‘common sense’ by society, but was constantly reinforced by the media.  It was Betty Friedan who challenged this dominant discourse with her ground breaking book The Feminine Mystique.  In his examination of the effects that this and other books like it of the time had on society, Louis Menand sums up why these books were so monumental in challenging the dominant discouse of the 1950s, saying, “These are books whose significance exceeds anything they actually said. For many people, it doesn’t even matter what they said or why they were written. What matters is that, when the world turned, they were there.”  Because they were there, and because they challenged a yet unchallenged notion in society,  the dominant discourse now says that I am able to pursue my education and career, while still desiring and having a husband and a family, if I so choose.

Menand and Coontz acknowledge that there are several issues with Friedan’s book, from ignoring the model of the African American home to the outdated notion that overbearing mothers were causing their sons to be homosexuals,  however both also acknowledge that The Feminine Mystique encouraged and established a new community of discourse among housewives in the 1960s, who realized they were not alone in their feelings of repression.  This spurred the women’s liberation movement in which Friedan played an integral role, and the community of discourse that viewed women as equals expanded and established itself as the dominant discourse in today’s society, an unthinkable achievement in the 1950s.


Written by charityhitt

October 22, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Posted in Analyze This

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