According to Friedan, men and women need work that satisfies their creativity and contributes to human society. According to Mrs. Olive Schreiner, “if women did not win back their right to a full share of honored and useful work, women’s mind and muscle would weaken in a parasitic state; her offspring, male and female would weaken progressively, and civilization itself would deteriorate.” (Friedan 8) I agree with this statement, I think that the work ethic of my generation and younger is influenced by our parents, and if they do not show a desire to work, their children will not contribute to society. If a mother does not work hard, whether her job is a stay- at- home mother or not, if she does not show any work ethic, her children will look up to her and follow in her footsteps, and eventually “civilization itself would deteriorate.” (Friedan 8)
However, I do not agree with Friedan’s implication that doing work is the only way to create a meaningful life. There are many ways to create a meaningful life; work should not be the most important. Work is important, money is important, and both can bring good things into your life. Work should not be your main priority in life nor should it be the meaning of your life. There are far more important things in life than work. Work is just the reason you should be able to afford those things that are meaningful to you. In my eyes, we need to work to support our family and to make sure all their needs are met, to take care of other family members or friends when they need the help, and to be able to pay to do activities and such when you want. What should bring meaning to your life, in my opinion, is God, family, friends and your hobbies. Work is just the reason we can make those things work and make it by.
Friedan believes that “women as well as men, can only find their identity in work that uses their full capacities. A woman cannot find her identity through others-her husband, her children. She cannot find it in the dull routine of housework… The feminine mystique prescribes just such a living death for women. Faced with the slow death of self, the American woman must begin to take her life seriously.” (Friedan 10) I do not agree with this statement. A woman can find her identity through her husband or her children if she enjoys being a mother and a wife and takes pride in it. Sure, housework can be dull at times, but so can any kind of work if you make it dull. You have to make the best out of what you’re given.
Friedan states that “only by such a personal commitment to the future can American women break out of the housewife trap and truly find fulfillment as wives and mothers- by fulfilling their own unique possibilities as separate human beings.” (Friedan 13) I believe a woman can find fulfillment by focusing on domestic tasks such as child-rearing because they can be there for their children whenever they need them, watch them grow and raise them to be a positive influence on society. It’s a woman’s choice to raise children, and if that’s what they decide they want to do then they are fulfilling their dream as a mother.
Raising children is a job, you have to teach them how to use the bathroom, eat, walk, feed them, take them to practices, help them with homework, buy and wash clothes, teach them manners and all sorts of other different tasks. Once your children get older and are able to do things on their own then I would think a mother would find fulfillment that they raised a human being as best as they could and taught them how to be independent.
Friedan claims that “if women do not put forth, finally, that effort to become all that they have it in them to become, they will forfeit their own humanity. A woman today who has no goal, no ambition pattering her days into the future, making her stretch and grow beyond that small score of years in which her body can fill its biological function, is committing a kind of suicide.” (Friedan 12) I agree with this statement because if you are not living your life to its full potential and for all your worth, you’ve wasted your life. If you chose to be a stay-at-home mother then put all your effort into it, do not let it make your life dull and boring, make the most out of it.
If you have no goal or ambition to raise the best kids that you can, and you dread staying at home being a housewife then I agree that you are committing suicide because being a stay-at- home mother isn’t for you. I think it’s very important for people to work and make something out of them. I want to work to live not live to work. Nobody should let work control their lives. And if you are a stay- at- home mother I do not think there is a single thing wrong with that. You can have a fulfilling life being a housewife if you work hard and enjoy it.
In conclusion, I believe everyone should work hard and show good work ethic whether you’re a stay-at- home mother or not in order be an influence on others. There are many ways to create a meaningful life, work is not the only way. If you live to work, then you’re missing out on what’s really important in life. In my opinion, what should create a fulfillment in your life is God, family and friends. Everyone should work to live, do not make work your number one priority in life.
Friedan, Betty. “The Importance of Work.” Practical Argument/ A text and Anthology, John E. Sullivan III. Boston/ New York: Bedford? St. Martin’s, 2011. Pg. 795-798