This is a nice piece of pop culture analysis, exactly the kind of thing that Bitch magazine would happily devote several pages to a feature article on. It's worth noticing. It's worth thinking about. Friedan had ended a discussion of a trend in fiction in women's magazines with a detailed description of what the nadir looked like.
Here's what Stephanie Coontz thinks is a reasonable response to this detailed, careful analysis. "A 1953 Coronet article about the female mayor of Portland, Oregon, was titled "The Lady Who Licked Crime in Portland." The mayor was described as "an ethereally pale housewife" who tipped "the scales at 110 pounds." But she was also labeled a feminist, intensely concerned "with the status of women." And no one suggested that she needed to be institutionalized or medicated. So there were more mixed messages, exceptions, and contradictions in the media's depictions of the ideal feminine life than Friedan admitted in her book."
(1) Coronet never had anything like the circulation of the magazines that Friedan looked at.
(2) It wasn't a woman's magazine; it was a "general interest" digest magazine.
(3) The article in question was a non-fiction profile; Friedan's analysis was of fiction.
(4) The article in question was from 1953, not 1958-9.
It's kind of hard to know what to do with this. I guess the short form is, under no circumstances should you waste your time reading Stephanie Coontz' book. The good parts are just reiterating what Friedan says, and those are inextricably intertwined with statements that Friedan was wrong -- statements that are either not connected to supporting evidence, or are connected to evidence of the kind of quality noted above (or worse).
I'm about a third of the way through the book, and I'm at error 30. I doubt I'll be finishing the book, but I'll post more of a (not-a-)review either way. And the next time I read a book review like the one in Bitch magazine where I go, wow, that's _really_ fucked up, I'm going to just go, wow, that's really fucked up and skip the whole track down all the errors project. Because I am honestly not feeling like I'm learning much here that I didn't know already (viz. people of Coontz' generation can not seem to perceive the world the way either their parent's generation did or, for that matter, the way succeeding generations do. And saying that about boomers is so boring, it puts _me_ to sleep.)