In writing Helen Andelin and the Fascinating Womanhood Movement, it was Julie Debra Neuffer’s hope that her study would “provide a scholarly and evenhanded look at the philosophy and motivations of . . . Helen Andelin and the movement she founded, within the larger historical context of women’s reform efforts”. Neuffer reached this goal, for, having finished the book, I am still unsure if Neuffer is for or against Andelin’s philosophy. Though she is sympathetic to Andelin, Neuffer’s portrayal is accurate, impartial, and unbiased.
While growing up, I heard about Fascinating Womanhood but did not realize the scope of the movement’s influence on millions of women in the twentieth century. The movement sought to demarcate feminine roles and gifts rather than close the gender gap; a woman’s “essential nature” could bring love and order to a marriage. Neuffer’s biography gives an unprecedented view of a neglected topic in twentieth-century women’s history, gender studies, women’s studies, and Mormon studies.