Fascinating Womanhood

Fascinating Womanhood is a book written by Helen Andelin and published in 1963. The book recently went into its sixth edition, published by Random House.[2] 2,000,000 books were sold and is credited with starting a grassroots movement among women.[citation needed]

Fascinating Womanhood:
A Guide to a Happy Marriage
Fascinating Womanhood.jpg
AuthorHelen B. Andelin
SubjectSelf-help, marriage, interpersonal relations
PublisherPacific Press
Santa Barbara
Publication date
January 1, 1963
Media typePrint (hardcover)
Followed byThe Fascinating Girl 


Derived from a set of booklets published in the 1920s and 1930s by the Psychological Press, the book seeks to help traditionally-minded women to make their marriages "a lifelong love affair".[3] According to Time magazine, Andelin wrote Fascinating Womanhood when "she felt her own marriage wasn't the romantic love affair she had dreamed of."[4]

The book's self-published edition sold over 400,000 copies,[4] and since being published by Random House, the book has sold more than 2 million copies. including foreign markets. It has been translated into seven languages.[3] The book serves as a touchstone for those of the anti-feminist persuasion.[citation needed]


The book takes many of its sources from historical women and from examples provided in classic literature. One of the "real life" women, Mumtaz Mahal of Taj Mahal fame, is cited as one of the ideal women who possessed both an angelic and a human side. More sources come from classic literature: Amelia (the original domestic goddess) of William Makepeace Thackeray's Vanity Fair, Agnes and Dora from David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, and Deruchette from Victor Hugo's Toilers of the Sea.

Fascinating Womanhood movementEdit

Although the book was published in the early 1960s when second wave feminism became part of the American mainstream, Fascinating Womanhood's traditional explication of happy marriage resonated in the minds and hearts of millions of women. By 1975, according to Time magazine, the movement included 11,000 teachers, and over 300,000 women had taken the series of Fascinating Womanhood classes.[4]

Unlike other antifeminism movements of the 1960s and 1970s, the Fascinating Womanhood movement continues today. The now-deceased Andelin maintained a website that received over a quarter of a million visits.[5] The classes continue in Namibia, the Philippines, Japan, and Malaysia, and in the United States in Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Utah, and Virginia.[5]

Feminist criticismEdit

Fascinating Womanhood has gained the attention of feminist writers, who largely regard the book as detrimental to women in various ways. In 1978, psychologist Martha L. Rogers wrote an article ("Fascinating Womanhood as a Regression in the Emotional Maturation of Women") positing the argument that women who follow the book's teachings were doing so out of a fear of being self-actualized individuals.[6] Juanne N. Clarke of Wilfrid Laurier University wrote that the movement used Rosabeth Moss Kanter's model of commitment mechanisms to analyze the techniques used to gain women's allegiance.[7] More recently, Pink Think: Becoming a Woman in Many Uneasy Lessons, by Lynn Peril, cited Fascinating Womanhood as part of a body of literature that seeks to promote "an idealized version of womanhood".[8][9] Finally, communications writer Julia Woods discusses the Fascinating Womanhood movement in Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender, and Culture.[10]


  1. ^ "Pacific Press Santa Barbara Pierce City company profile, news, and business information | HighBeam Business: Arrive Prepared". Goliath.ecnext.com. Retrieved December 7, 2012.
  2. ^ "Helen Andelin Author Bookshelf - Random House - Books - Audiobooks - Ebooks". Random House. Retrieved December 7, 2012.
  3. ^ a b "Fascinating Womanhood by Helen Andelin - Book". Random House. Retrieved December 7, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c "The Sexes: Total Fascination". Time. March 10, 1975.
  5. ^ a b "Marriage, the Fascinating Way, By Helen Andelin". Fascinatingwomanhood.net. Retrieved December 7, 2012.
  6. ^ "Fascinating Womanhood as a Regression in the Emotional Maturation of Women". Eric.ed.gov. Retrieved December 7, 2012.
  7. ^ "Becoming fascinating - Springer". Alternative Lifestyles. 4: 75–89. February 1, 1981. doi:10.1007/BF01082089. S2CID 198500804.
  8. ^ Peril, page 215[full citation needed]
  9. ^ Pink Think: Becoming a Woman in Many Uneasy Lessons – via Google Books.
  10. ^ Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender, and Culture (with InfoTrac) - Julia T. Wood - Google Boeken. 2005. ISBN 9780534636159. Retrieved December 7, 2012.

Further readingEdit