One of the most impactful social changes during World War II had been the involvement of American women in the war efforts , both abroad and on the homefront. Over , women served in some branch of the military, while massive numbers of women left the home to fill in the industrial labor needs left vacant by drafted soldiers. This created a conservative cultural backlash whose proponents encouraged women to return to the home and to more traditional, domestic gender roles so men could reassume the role of financial provider and family protector.
The principal instrument of their creation are women. This neurosis is not merely affecting draft-age men returning from World War II, but the majority of the American population.
According to the authors, between one-quarter to one-third of all people are neurotic, while an additional one-quarter to one-third "have some neurotic character traits or some physiological weakness of ailment psychics in origin.
Concerning Man's Dilemma[ edit ] "And women, as we have said, have a great deal to do with the condition in general, although they have enjoyed the full co-operation of men in bringing it about. When the sun was proven the center of the universe, rather than earth and man, male self-esteem was wounded and continually degraded with each following scientific innovation, including Darwinian theory and industrialization.
Ultimately, the male's need to prove himself results in improved science and technology such as the steam engine, which undermine the woman's role in the house, rendering her irrelevant in her own home. Women are then forced into the public sphere to find importance and self-fulfillment, which is Lundberg and Farnham's central cause of female neurosis. Once women leave the home, they lose their sense of emotional security, their ability to readjust to changing environments, and their ownership of femininity and sexuality.
The Lost Sex focuses on the effect of unhappiness and neurosis on female sexuality, approaches to motherhood and childbearing, and the development of modern feminism. Sexuality[ edit ] "But the entire sex life of women became disorganized, which the social devaluation of children and the difficulties imposed with their reading under the new conditions. This places more social pressure on men to pleasure women, but more natural pressure always resides on women to bear and rear children.
Furthermore, more educated women experience less sexual pleasure and stability, thus decreasing the chance of childbirth. For example, they argue the "rape of the wedding night" phenomena is merely overdramatized due to male sexual enthusiasm, alcohol use, and even female fantasies of being raped. The book also postulates that women who have pre- or extra-marital sex and have a child are highly psychologically unstable and neurotic.
Finally, the authors cite female avoidance of childbirth as a dangerous, extremely painful, and threatening experience as a dramatization and result of psychological confusion. The authors cite Freud and his postulations numerous times throughout the work, particularly his idea of penis-envy as it applied to feminists.
The Lost Sex draws on many Freudian theories to explain female neurosis, it cannot be considered a purely Freudian example. First, s society is not built to accommodate children. Homes and apartments are small and unsuited for children, landlords often select against children, and schools do not adequately keep children engaged. Women have no way to expend energy in a technological home and search for accomplishment equal to that of men - which leaves no room for childbearing and prompts the declining birth rate.
Feminism[ edit ] "Feminism, despite the external validity of its political program and most not all of its social program, was at its core, a deep illness. The Lost Sex portrays the feminist movement not as a response to centuries-long subjugation of women, but rather as a misguided attempt to remedy the female population's lack of clear purpose after the Industrial Revolution forced them and their economic productivity out of the home.
The authors argue that while feminism claims to address the social and political equality of women, it truly targets the sexual and social frustrations of women in an aggressive, unfeminine, and ultimately failed strategy. The Lost Sex produced a varied yet lasting impact on sociological, psychological, and anthropological scholars. Initial reviews of Lundberg and Farnham's work were mixed. Concerns included a lack of sufficient psychological and sociological data to justify the authors' large claims, the authors' failure to examine sex roles from an anthropological standpoint, and confusion and conflicting arguments at different points in the book.
Critique included the "confusion of analysis of the neurotic motivations of feminists with scientific examination of their program. The authors were praised for synthesizing several social and scientific views of the decade, reaffirming the sacred importance of women in the household and "bringing and fostering of life," and providing a viable psychological basis for social discontent.
The Lost Sex continued to impact intellectual thinking beyond years after initial publication. Throughout the s and even to present day, Lundberg and Farnham's ideas appear as phrases, reprinted chapters, or paraphrased topics in both intellectual literature and popular culture. Friedan first cites the popular culture impact of Lundberg and Farnham's work, specifically that magazines such as Ladies' Home Journal spread the authors' thesis across America.
Public Response[ edit ] "In any event, the degree of acceptance or rejection of this thesis will probably depend, not so much on its demonstrability, as on the extent to which modern thought, confused over the unfulfilled promises of liberalistic doctrines, is seeking other faiths.
The Lost Sex quickly became a bestseller upon its publication. Historians Miller and Nowak argue: The Lost Sex to other rallying points of popular culture: Women even used Lundberg and Farnham's book as a self-help text in advice columns in large newspapers. One advice columnist consistently referred readers to Modern Woman: