Friday, October 2, 2015

Ethos in The Feminine Mystique

Betty Friedan (far left) shown leading a women's rights protest
In addition to her appeal to pathos, the most important aspect of the excerpt from Betty Friedan’s book, The Feminine Mystique, may have been her establishment of ethos. Friedan, a leading figure in the women’s movement, had herself experienced dissatisfaction with her life in the household. Her empathy strengthened her reputation as a feminist. By repetitively depicting the “ideal” woman of American society—a woman who remained in the household and took care of children—as someone who felt frustrated and guilty at her discontentment, Friedan was able to make her argument more relatable and believable for most American women. After Friedan described how she came to realize that this problem was shared by other women, she switched to speaking in the first person, as if she was saying, “I am able to recognize that the repression of women’s capacities is an issue, so I am no longer a part of the feminine stereotype.” She established credibility by making herself distinct from other women who may have been more oblivious to the problem. On the other hand, she also reassured the women that were not aware of the “countless women in America” who shared this discontentment that they were not alone in the way they felt. This bandwagon sort of approach to her argument made Friedan's words more compelling and deepened her connection with the audience. In order to identify with her audience through a sense of community, Friedan emphasized the idea of “American women,” not simply anyone, enduring these struggles together. 

- Anjali Ravi


  1. Anjali, you did a great job analyzing the ethos in Friedan's text. I especially found it interesting in your post where you described bandwagon being used in an effective way as opposed to a fallacious one. Friedan knew that many women in America felt the same as her, but were unable to admit it because they thought they were alone in their beliefs and no one would listen. Friedan's novel in many ways opened the door to modern-day feminism.

    -Daniel Saliunas

  2. I really enjoyed the use of analysis of the author's depiction of being relatable. It was also especially insightful for you to mention the bandwagon effect that made them feel as if they were not alone in the struggle. However, I think it may be helpful to your argument to give more background on why Friedan had herself experienced dissatisfaction with her life in the household. This would allow readers to better realize why they can relate to her and her struggles.

    -Jason Recht

  3. I think you did a really great job of explaining Friedan's ethos established in "The Feminine Mystique." You gave specific instances in her passage where she formed her reputation as a feminist. I really liked where you mentioned Friedan using empathy to appeal to the many American women that felt the way you described. Maybe it would have been helpful to explain any extrinsic ethos Friedan had prior to the novel. But great post!
    -Lea Marucci