In 1963 Betty Friedan started “second wave feminism” by identifying the woes of women as “The problem with no name.” The reason it had no name is because it wasn’t really a problem. Well, okay, it’s a problem for people who don’t have actual problems.
Twenty years earlier, Abraham Maslow developed his Hierarchy of Needs theory which provided a ranking system placing types of human development on a pyramidal scale. The base of the pyramid consists of survival or physiological needs which must be met before the next level, safety, can be sought and so on up through the progressive levels that follow; love/belonging, esteem, self-actualization, and self-transcendence at the apex.
Betty had a degree in psychology but it seems she missed the lectures on Maslow. Either that, or she was unable to grasp the concepts because he avoided “crippled, stunted, immature, and unhealthy specimens” like her when he chose subjects to construct his theory.
Here is a graphic of Maslow’s hierarchy to explain what sorts of problems normal humans face.
This chart is not an escalator that only moves in one direction. A person might find themselves, as we do, thinking they have achieved love and belonging only to find themselves looking for food and shelter the next day… because their wife “left” them by making them move out, and filed for child support and alimony where possible.
A person might be about to realize their life’s ambition then find themselves suddenly driven off the road in a random car accident, trapped in a car under water and struggling in the red zone. They might be about to get a promotion at work then suddenly find themselves in jail on a trumped up accusation of a felony just praying they can prove their innocence. Shit happens to all of us and we can only choose what path we take get back on the ladder. The chart is a handy way to assess where we are at and try to focus on reaching the next level up.
In The Feminine Mystique Betty Friedan’s problem is that, after providing her with the first four levels in the pyramid, men hadn’t given her the fifth.
Second wave feminism was kick-started on the premise that housewives who had safety, security, resources, family, health, sexual intimacy (if they wanted it), confidence in their bundt cake baking skills and interior decorating choices, and peer respect from the PTA committee, were horrendously lacking that top tier on the hierarchy of needs called “Self Actualization.” Betty proposed this callous lack of concern for women’s self-expression meant oppression from the evil patriarchy. She was incapable of concerning herself with the fact that most men function below her purple world because they are busy paving the way for her to sit back and worry about such fuckery.
The aching need for self-actualization, for that guru moment in which you come to terms with your own battle between ego and the world around you, of being recognized as a person of worth and significance in a world of meaning, of feeling capable of dealing with a spilled cappuccino that ruined your designer dress because when you tweeted it all your facebook friends simultaneously told you that you still look stunning in brown… doesn’t mean you are oppressed. It means you’re spoiled.
This is not to say I don’t feel Betty’s pain, it’s just to say “fuck your pain, you narcissistic twat!”
And I’m not just talking to Betty, may she finally rest in peace.
Feminists, when entering a discussion or debate, need to look at the level of need their opponent might be addressing. For Friedan, she was bemoaning a lack of fulfilment while her husband was busy paying her bills. For Friedan, she was mourning the psychology degree that she didn’t make use of while writing for most of the major women’s magazines that existed at the time and pursuing her political goals under her maiden name.1 While Betty’s self-expression was used to decry her lack of self-expression she never stopped to ask what more her husband was getting out of his day. They got divorced.
So that’s a summary of the fraud of Betty Friedan. But it doesn’t mean that the women she purported to speak for were also living a wild, and wonderful life of free expression, it only explains that the woman credited with initiating the second wave of feminism was a complete cunt.
A lot of feminists feel the same way about Betty. One of the feminist criticisms of The Feminine Mystique is that it only dealt with the problems of middle class white women. It’s true. That being said, they still use it as a staple text in Women’s Studies. Choose your degrees carefully.
While regular people worry about banking fraud, global economic collapse, the military industrial complex, over population, and the privatization of prisons, feminists are campaigning to get Jane Austen on a ten pound British note, bikini models off page three of the newspaper, and worrying about how to re-brand feminism so more women will like them again.
A twitter trend called #solidarityisforwhitewomen opened up a potential dialogue with mainstream feminism recently that doesn’t take the issue far enough. It’s time for feminists to stop comparing just women’s “problems” with other women’s problems and start comparing them with the problems of men. The next hashtag should be #allfeministsareentitledbitches
While feminists declare sexism against women by men makes the female life miserable, studies show that sexism is subjective. It’s only bad when it doesn’t feed a woman’s sense of entitlement. In a study called The Allure of Sexism: Psychological Entitlement Fosters Women’s Endorsement of Benevolent Sexism Over Time, 2 it was found that women themselves are quite content to cultivate a narcissistic environment which treats women as superior and caters to their needs.
Betty Friedan set the bar for entitlement and third wave feminism has not sought to reconcile the disparity in the hierarchical need concerns of women vs men. Betty was right about one thing: there are a lot of bored housewives who didn’t decide how to fix their own toilet, learn how to drywall the addition they want, or write a best selling romance novel based on all their repressed desires. It’s indisputable that many women wish to have a fulfilling career but what women really want is to know that their career is optional. It’s so much more fun when you choose to do something instead of doing it because you have to meet a need at the bottom of the triangle.
While some women are homeless, men make up 75-80% of that demographic. If you want to know which gender has a “problem with no name” ask which gender is killing themselves. That’s a good indication of who is lower on the pyramid of needs. Answer: It’s not women.
You can use Maslow’s hierarchy to understand many arguments in life that pass your way and leave you thinking “what the fuck just happened?” In a personal relationship, check to make sure your partner is meeting you on the same level of need.
If you are asking how to pay the bills this month and your partner is more concerned with why s/he doesn’t feel loved you’ve got a Maslow problem. If you are asking how you are going to drive to work without falling asleep at the wheel and your partner is complaining that s/he feels unappreciated, you’ve got a Maslow problem. If you’re working every day at a job that is slowly killing your body, mind, and soul and your partner is complaining that they want a new sofa, you’ve got a Maslow problem.
I’m all for self-actualization. If you can do it: great. I’m happy for those that have the time and comfort to indulge their inner wish fulfilment. What I won’t do is feel sorry for pansy ass feminists and fuel a system that funds their narcissistic agendas while the rest of us go about wearing the work boots that put them in a position to fret about the meaning of life.
The modern world seems doomed to pander to self-indulgent cretins but it doesn’t have to be that way. There is a growing sense of social unrest and a lot of self-interest groups are busy pointing at each other. Oppression can continue for a long time but it runs afoul when those who support it have nothing left to lose by fighting. That’s where the majority of men are at.
Tyranny requires the co-operation of the masses. Don’t co-operate.
2. For more info see http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2470085/Women-fine-sexism-long-benefits-scientists-reveal.html and http://gynocentrism.com/2013/10/23/the-allure-of-chivalry/