Betty Crocker Versus Betty Friedan: Meanings of Wifehood Within a Postfeminist Era

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Abstract

In this article, deploying Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique and the fictional American icon Betty Crocker within a poststructural feminist analysis, the author analyzes a social science data set investigating how 18 contemporary wives think about wifehood. Crocker and Friedan are emblematic of the cultural DNA that make up wifehood: The mythical Betty Crocker represents the happy, traditional housewife of the 1950s, and Betty Friedan offers a critique of the happy, traditional housewife figure. Thinking about historical trends, in the 1950s to 1960s, femininity and families were rigidly prescribed and, thus, largely unquestioned. In the 21st century, with the influx of postfeminism, prescriptions for femininity and families are thought to be less rigid—but are they? Contemporary wives’ identity negotiations mapped onto both Betty Crocker and Betty Friedan but remained anchored in the Betty Crocker image.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)843-867
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Family Issues
Volume39
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018

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Keywords

  • contemporary women
  • femininity
  • history
  • identities
  • marriage
  • wives

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