Surprise (Women and ) Extra Credit

The “mystique” that Friedan spoke of was the image of the woman as mother, as wife, living through her husband, through her children, giving up her own dreams for that. She concluded: “The only way for a woman, as for a man, to find herself, to know herself as a person, is by creative work of her own.”

During the 1950s, women were expected to fill a structured societal and familial role which meant being submissive and subservient in a male dominated society. A typical life of a woman was to go through education but find a suitable man and tend to familial and husband needs. Her day would consist of managing the house appliances, cooking, cleaning, and only doing these tasks with no hope of self satisfaction through development in other areas such as education. Howard Zinn mentions Betty Friedan because she was also a household mom who experience this “silent” problem also with other housewives during this time period. This problem was very common with many housewives and served as a reminder of the gender inequality that society still holds.

There had always been prison riots. A wave of them in the 1920s ended with a riot at Clinton, New York, a prison of 1,600 inmates, which was suppressed with three prisoners killed. Between 1950 and 1953 more than fifty major riots occurred in American prisons.

The recent increase in riots in prisons shows the effect of the American System on society. The most “surprising” fact was that both the rich and poor committed crimes but only the rich were in jail. The recent prisoners showed the disparity between wealth as many of the rich people who broke laws were able to avoid prison because of money. Howard Zinn mentions this statistic because many of these riots signified this aspect. Rich people could higher better lawyers and be more favorably from judges. This led to an unfair advantage that Zinn needed to mention.