Mother love is said to be sacred in America, but with all the reverence and lip service she is paid, mom is a pretty safe target, no matter how correctly or incorrectly her failures are interpreted. No one has ever been blacklisted or fired for an attack on ‘the American woman.’ Apart from the psychological pressures from mothers or wives, there have been plenty of nonsexual pressures in the America of the last decade—the compromising, never-ceasing, competition, the anonymous and often purposeless work in the big organization—that also kept a man from feeling like a man. Safer to take it out on his wife and his mother than to recognize a failure in himself or in the sacred American way of life. The men were not always kidding when they said their wives were lucky to be able to stay at home all day. It was also soothing to rationalize the rat race by telling themselves that they were in it ‘for the wife and kids.’ And so men re-created their own childhood in suburbia, and made mothers of their wives. Men fell for the mystique without a murmur of dissent. It promised them mothers for the rest of their lives, both as a reason for their being and as an excuse for their failures. Is it so strange that boys who grow up with too much love become men who can never get enough?
—From Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, currently celebrating its 50th anniversary of publication. After reading this section we realized that Friedan and Paul Goodman (Growing Up Absurd), despite having completely opposite subjects—housewives for the former, male juvenile delinquents for the latter—, actually have the same social goal in mind.