Strange new problems are being reported in the growing generations of children whose mothers were always there, driving them around, helping them with their homework --an inability to endure pain or discipline or pursue any self-sustained goal of any sort, a devastating boredom with life.
It is better for a woman to compete impersonally in society, as men do, than to compete for dominance in her own home with her husband, compete with her neighbors for empty status, and so smother her son that he cannot compete at all.
The problem lay buried, unspoken for many years in the minds of American women. It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning that women suffered in the middle of the twentieth century in the United States. Each suburban housewife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night, she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question: ''Is this all?''
The suburban housewife -- she was the dream image of the young American women and the envy, it was said, of women all over the world. The American housewife -- freed by science and labor-saving appliances from the drudgery, the dangers of childbirth, and the illnesses of her grandmother had found true feminine fulfillment.
Man is not the enemy here, but the fellow victim.
It is easier to live through someone else than to become complete yourself.
A woman is handicapped by her sex, and handicaps society, either by slavishly copying the pattern of man's advance in the professions, or by refusing to compete with man at all.
Instead of fulfilling the promise of infinite orgasmic bliss, sex in the America of the feminine mystique is becoming a strangely joyless national compulsion, if not a contemptuous mockery.
The feminine mystique has succeeded in burying millions of American women alive.