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Chapter 1: Friedan points out that the average age of marriage was dropping, the portion of women attending college was decreasing and the birthrate was increasing for women throughout the 1950s, yet the widespread trend of unhappy women persisted, although American culture insisted that fulfillment for women could be found in marriage and housewifery.
Although aware of and sharing this dissatisfaction, women in the 1950s misinterpreted it as an individual problem and rarely talked about it with other women.
Chapter 3: Friedan recalls her own decision to conform to society's expectations by giving up her promising career in psychology to raise children, and shows that other young women still struggled with the same kind of decision.
Many women dropped out of school early to marry, afraid that if they waited too long or became too educated, they would not be able to attract a husband.
She discusses the conflicts that some women may face in this journey to self-actualization, including their own fears and resistance from others.Friedan says that women need meaningful work just as men do to achieve self-actualization, the highest level on the hierarchy of needs.Chapter 14: In the final chapter of The Feminine Mystique, Friedan discusses several case studies of women who have begun to go against the feminine mystique.Chapter 11: Friedan notes that many housewives have sought fulfillment in sex, unable to find it in housework and children; Friedan notes that sex cannot fulfill all of a person's needs, and that attempts to make it do so often drive married women to have affairs or drive their husbands away as they become obsessed with sex.Chapter 12: Friedan discusses the fact that many children have lost interest in life or emotional growth, attributing the change to the mother's own lack of fulfillment, a side effect of the feminine mystique.