Is the Feminine Mystique more like a good wine, growing better with age, or more like the culturally dominant image of women, becoming increasingly haggard and shrill each year after 40? To celebrate Betty Friedan’s classic tome of American feminism, we’ll spend the next week here at Lady Economist scrutinizing FM and why its important for the economy to have empowered women.
Jezebel is starting us out with a piece arguing that we’ve sold our little ladies short by teaching them they can do anything they set their mind to in a world that still has a lot of barriers preventing them from doing that easily. In economics terms, these are barriers to free entry and mobility in the economy, which leads to inefficiency and lost potential productivity. If We’re Going to Empower Girls, We Owe Them a Reality Check puts forth a few positive ideas for letting our girls know that they still got a fight ahead of them. For example (and the first one, but I swear I read the whole thing) is “teach girls how to be angry.” I love this one. Women should be allowed to be shamelessly angry if there is something that is actually worth getting angry over – like maybe the persistence of the gender wage gap? So maybe the Feminine Mystique is less a fine wine, and just an angry old feminist and that’s okay, as long as she’s also a good role model for our little ladies.