Betty Friedan
Overview
Betty Friedan was an American writer
Writer
A writer is a person who produces literature, such as novels, short stories, plays, screenplays, poetry, or other literary art. Skilled writers are able to use language to portray ideas and images....

, activist, and feminist.

A leading figure in the Women's Movement
Second-wave feminism
The Feminist Movement, or the Women's Liberation Movement in the United States refers to a period of feminist activity which began during the early 1960s and lasted through the early 1990s....

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, her 1963 book The Feminine Mystique
The Feminine Mystique
The Feminine Mystique, published February 19, 1963, by W.W. Norton and Co., is a nonfiction book written by Betty Friedan. It is widely credited with sparking the beginning of second-wave feminism in the United States....

is often credited with sparking the "second wave" of American feminism in the twentieth century. In 1966, Friedan founded and was elected the first president of the National Organization for Women
National Organization for Women
The National Organization for Women is the largest feminist organization in the United States. It was founded in 1966 and has a membership of 500,000 contributing members. The organization consists of 550 chapters in all 50 U.S...

, which aimed to bring women "into the mainstream of American society now [in] fully equal partnership with men".

In 1970, after stepping down as NOW's first president, Friedan organized the nation-wide Women's Strike for Equality
Women's Strike for Equality
The Women’s Strike for Equality was a strike which took place in the United States on August 26, 1970. It celebrated the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment, which effectively gave American women the right to vote. The rally was sponsored by the National Organization for...

 on August 26, the 50th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits any United States citizen to be denied the right to vote based on sex. It was ratified on August 18, 1920....

 granting women the right to vote.
Quotations

Men weren’t really the enemy — they were fellow victims suffering from an outmoded masculine mystique that made them feel unnecessarily inadequate when there were no bears to kill.

As quoted by The Christian Science Monitor (1 April 1974) This has sometimes appeared paraphrased: "Man is not the enemy here, but the fellow victim."

We need to see men and women as equal partners, but it’s hard to think of movies that do that. When I talk to people, they think of movies of forty-five years ago! Hepburn and Tracy!

As quoted in People magazine (7-14 March 1994), p. 49

The only way for a woman, as for a man, to find herself, to know herself as a person, is by creative work of her own. There is no other way.Interviews with Betty Friedan, Janann Sherman, ed. Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2002, ISBN 1578064805, p. x : ISBN 0393322572

A girl should not expect special privileges because of her sex but neither should she 'adjust' to prejudice and discrimination.

Ch. 1 "The Problem That Has No Name"

The suburban housewife — she was the dream image of the young American women and the envy, it was said, of women all over the world. The American housewife — freed by science and labor-saving appliances from the drudgery, the dangers of childbirth, and the illnesses of her grandmother ... had found true feminine fulfilment.

Ch. 1 "The Problem That Has No Name"

Strange new problems are being reported in the growing generations of children whose mothers were always there, driving them around, helping them with their homework — an inability to endure pain or discipline or pursue any self- sustained goal of any sort, a devastating boredom with life.

Ch. 1 "The Problem That Has No Name"

Instead of fulfilling the promise of infinite orgastic bliss, sex in the America of the feminine mystique is becoming a strangely joyless national compulsion, if not a contemptuous mockery.

Ch. 11 "The Sex-Seekers"

American housewives have not had their brains shot away, nor are they schizophrenic in the clinical sense. But if … the fundamental human drive is not the urge for pleasure or the satisfaction of biological needs, but the need to grow and to realize one’s full potential, their comfortable, empty, purposeless days are indeed cause for a nameless terror.

Ch 13 "The Forfeited Self"

Encyclopedia
Betty Friedan was an American writer
Writer
A writer is a person who produces literature, such as novels, short stories, plays, screenplays, poetry, or other literary art. Skilled writers are able to use language to portray ideas and images....

, activist, and feminist.

A leading figure in the Women's Movement
Second-wave feminism
The Feminist Movement, or the Women's Liberation Movement in the United States refers to a period of feminist activity which began during the early 1960s and lasted through the early 1990s....

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, her 1963 book The Feminine Mystique
The Feminine Mystique
The Feminine Mystique, published February 19, 1963, by W.W. Norton and Co., is a nonfiction book written by Betty Friedan. It is widely credited with sparking the beginning of second-wave feminism in the United States....

is often credited with sparking the "second wave" of American feminism in the twentieth century. In 1966, Friedan founded and was elected the first president of the National Organization for Women
National Organization for Women
The National Organization for Women is the largest feminist organization in the United States. It was founded in 1966 and has a membership of 500,000 contributing members. The organization consists of 550 chapters in all 50 U.S...

, which aimed to bring women "into the mainstream of American society now [in] fully equal partnership with men".

In 1970, after stepping down as NOW's first president, Friedan organized the nation-wide Women's Strike for Equality
Women's Strike for Equality
The Women’s Strike for Equality was a strike which took place in the United States on August 26, 1970. It celebrated the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment, which effectively gave American women the right to vote. The rally was sponsored by the National Organization for...

 on August 26, the 50th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits any United States citizen to be denied the right to vote based on sex. It was ratified on August 18, 1920....

 granting women the right to vote. The national strike was successful beyond expectations in broadening the feminist movement; the march led by Friedan in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 alone attracted over 50,000 women and men. In 1971, Friedan joined other leading feminists to establish the National Women's Political Caucus
National Women's Political Caucus
The National Women's Political Caucus is a national bipartisan grassroots organization in the United States dedicated to recruiting, training, and supporting women who seek elected and appointed offices....

. Friedan was also a strong supporter of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment
Equal Rights Amendment
The Equal Rights Amendment was a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution. The ERA was originally written by Alice Paul and, in 1923, it was introduced in the Congress for the first time...

 to the United States Constitution that passed the United States House of Representatives (by a vote of 354-24) and Senate (84-8) following intense pressure by women's groups led by NOW in the early 1970s. Following Congressional passage of the amendment Friedan advocated for ratification of the amendment in the states and supported other women's rights reforms. Friedan founded the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws
NARAL Pro-Choice America
NARAL Pro-Choice America , formerly the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, then National Abortion Rights Action League, and later National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, is an organization in the United States that engages in political action to oppose...

 but was later critical of the abortion-centered, politicized tactics of many liberal and radical feminists.

Regarded as an influential author
Author
An author is broadly defined as "the person who originates or gives existence to anything" and that authorship determines responsibility for what is created. Narrowly defined, an author is the originator of any written work.-Legal significance:...

 and intellectual
Intellectual
An intellectual is a person who uses intelligence and critical or analytical reasoning in either a professional or a personal capacity.- Terminology and endeavours :"Intellectual" can denote four types of persons:...

 in the United States, Friedan remained active in politics and advocacy for the rest of her life, authoring six books. As early as the 1960s Friedan was critical of polarized and extreme factions of feminism that attacked groups such as men and homemakers. One of her later books, The Second Stage, critiqued what Friedan saw as the extremist excesses of some feminists who could be broadly classified as gender feminists.

Early life

Friedan was born Bettye Naomi Goldstein on February 4, 1921 in Peoria, Illinois
Peoria, Illinois
Peoria is the largest city on the Illinois River and the county seat of Peoria County, Illinois, in the United States. It is named after the Peoria tribe. As of the 2010 census, the city was the seventh-most populated in Illinois, with a population of 115,007, and is the third-most populated...

, to Harry and Miriam Goldstein. Harry owned a jewelry store in Peoria, and Miriam wrote for the society page of a newspaper when Friedan's father fell ill. Her mother's new life outside the home seemed much more gratifying.

As a young girl, Friedan was active in Marxist
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 and Jew
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

ish circles; she later wrote how she felt isolated from the community at times, and felt her "passion against injustice...originated from my feelings of the injustice of anti-Semitism". She attended Peoria High School
Peoria High School (Peoria, Illinois)
Peoria High School is a public high school in Peoria, Illinois. Peoria High School was established in 1856 and is the oldest continually operating high school west of the Allegheny Mountains. Peoria High is located at 1615 N. North Street and moved to this location in 1916...

 where she became involved in the school newspaper. When she was turned down for a column, she and six other friends launched a literary magazine called Tide. In this magazine, Friedan and her friends talked about home life as opposed to school life.

She attended the all-female Smith College
Smith College
Smith College is a private, independent women's liberal arts college located in Northampton, Massachusetts. It is the largest member of the Seven Sisters...

 in 1938. She won a scholarship prize in her first year for outstanding academic performance. In her second year, she became interested in poetry, and had many poems published in campus publications. In 1941, she became editor-in-chief of the college newspaper. The editorials became more political under her leadership, taking a strong anti-war stance and occasionally causing controversy. She graduated summa cum laude in 1942, majoring in psychology
Psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

.

In 1943, she spent a year at the University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley , is a teaching and research university established in 1868 and located in Berkeley, California, USA...

 having won a fellowship to undertake graduate work in psychology
Psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

 with Erik Erikson
Erik Erikson
Erik Erikson was a Danish-German-American developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst known for his theory on social development of human beings. He may be most famous for coining the phrase identity crisis. His son, Kai T...


. She became more politically active, continuing to mix with Marxists (many of her friends were investigated by the FBI). Friedan claims in her memoirs that her boyfriend at the time pressured her into turning down a Ph.D fellowship for further study and abandoning her academic career.

Before 1963

After leaving Berkeley, Friedan became a journalist for leftist
Left-wing politics
In politics, Left, left-wing and leftist generally refer to support for social change to create a more egalitarian society...

 and union publications. Between 1943-46 she wrote for The Federated Press and between 1946-52 she worked for the United Electrical Workers
United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America
The United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America , is an independent democratic rank-and-file labor union representing workers in both the private and public sectors across the United States....

' UE News
UE News
UE News is the newsletter of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America.-External links:**...

. One of her assignments was to report on the House Un-American Activities Committee
House Un-American Activities Committee
The House Committee on Un-American Activities or House Un-American Activities Committee was an investigative committee of the United States House of Representatives. In 1969, the House changed the committee's name to "House Committee on Internal Security"...

.

Friedan was dismissed from the union newspaper UE News
UE News
UE News is the newsletter of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America.-External links:**...

in 1952, because she was pregnant with her second child. After leaving UE News, she became a freelance writer, and wrote for various magazines, including Cosmopolitan
Cosmopolitan (magazine)
Cosmopolitan is an international magazine for women. It was first published in 1886 in the United States as a family magazine, was later transformed into a literary magazine and eventually became a women's magazine in the late 1960s...

.

The Feminine Mystique

For her 15th college reunion in 1957, Friedan conducted a survey of college graduates, focusing on their education, their subsequent experiences and satisfaction with their current lives. She started publishing articles about what she called "the problem that has no name," and got passionate responses from many housewives grateful that they were not alone in experiencing this problem.

Friedan then decided to rework and expand this topic into a book, The Feminine Mystique
The Feminine Mystique
The Feminine Mystique, published February 19, 1963, by W.W. Norton and Co., is a nonfiction book written by Betty Friedan. It is widely credited with sparking the beginning of second-wave feminism in the United States....

. Published in 1963, it depicted the roles of women in industrial societies
Industrial society
In sociology, industrial society refers to a society driven by the use of technology to enable mass production, supporting a large population with a high capacity for division of labour. Such a structure developed in the west in the period of time following the Industrial Revolution, and replaced...

, especially the full-time homemaker
Homemaker
Homemaking is a mainly American term for the management of a home, otherwise known as housework, housekeeping or household management...

 role, which Friedan deemed stifling. Friedan speaks of her own 'terror' at being alone, and observes in her life never once seeing a positive female role-model who worked and also kept a family. She provides numerous accounts of housewives who feel similarly trapped. With her psychology background, Friedan offers a critique of Freud's penis envy
Penis envy
Penis envy in Freudian psychoanalysis refers to the theorized reaction of a girl during her psychosexual development to the realization that she does not have a penis....

 theory, noting a lot of paradoxes in his work. And she attempts to offer some answers to women who wish to pursue an education.

The "Problem That Has No Name" was described by Friedan in the beginning of the book:
"The problem lay buried, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American women. It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning [that is, a longing] that women suffered in the middle of the 20th century in the United States. Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries … she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question — 'Is this all?"


Friedan noted that women are as capable as men to do any type of work or follow any career path, and the mass media, educators, and psychologists argued to the contrary. The restrictions of the 1950s
1950s
The 1950s or The Fifties was the decade that began on January 1, 1950 and ended on December 31, 1959. The decade was the sixth decade of the 20th century...

, and the trapped, imprisoned, feeling of many women forced into these roles, spoke to American women who soon began attending consciousness-raising sessions and lobbying for the reform of oppressive laws and social views that restricted women.

The book became a bestseller, which many historians believe was the impetus for the "second wave" of the Women's Movement, and significantly shaped national and world events.
.

Other works

Friedan published six books. Her other books include The Second Stage
The Second Stage
The Second Stage is a 1981 book by American feminist, activist and writer Betty Friedan, best known for her earlier book The Feminine Mystique....

, It Changed My Life: Writings on the Women's Movement, Beyond Gender, and The Fountain of Age
The Fountain of Age
The Fountain of Age is a book written by Betty Friedan, who also wrote The Feminine Mystique. It is a study of aging and how people face aging.-External links:*...

. Her autobiography, Life so Far, was published in 2000.

She also wrote for magazines and a newspaper:
  • Columns in McCall's
    McCall's
    McCall's was a monthly American women's magazine that enjoyed great popularity through much of the 20th century, peaking at a readership of 8.4 million in the early 1960s. It was established as a small-format magazine called The Queen in 1873...

    magazine, 1971–1974
  • Writings for The New York Times Magazine
    The New York Times Magazine
    The New York Times Magazine is a Sunday magazine supplement included with the Sunday edition of The New York Times. It is host to feature articles longer than those typically in the newspaper and has attracted many notable contributors...

    , Newsday
    Newsday
    Newsday is a daily American newspaper that primarily serves Nassau and Suffolk counties and the New York City borough of Queens on Long Island, although it is sold throughout the New York metropolitan area...

    , Harper's, Saturday Review, Mademoiselle
    Mademoiselle (magazine)
    Mademoiselle was an influential women's magazine first published in 1935 by Street and Smith and later acquired by Condé Nast Publications....

    , Ladies' Home Journal
    Ladies' Home Journal
    Ladies' Home Journal is an American magazine which first appeared on February 16, 1883, and eventually became one of the leading women's magazines of the 20th century in the United States...

    , Family Circle
    Family Circle
    Family Circle is an American women's magazine published 15 times a year by Meredith Corporation. It began publication in 1932 as a magazine distributed at supermarkets such as Piggly Wiggly and Safeway. Cowles Magazines and Broadcasting bought the magazine in 1962. The New York Times Company bought...

    , TV Guide
    TV Guide
    TV Guide is a weekly American magazine with listings of TV shows.In addition to TV listings, the publication features television-related news, celebrity interviews, gossip and film reviews and crossword puzzles...

    , and True Magazine
    True (magazine)
    True, also known as True, The Man's Magazine, was published by Fawcett Publications from 1937 until 1974. Known as True, A Man's Magazine in the 1930s, it was labeled True, #1 Man's Magazine in the 1960s. Petersen Publishing took over with the January 1975, issue...


National Organization for Women

In 1966 Friedan co-founded, and became the first president of, the National Organization for Women
National Organization for Women
The National Organization for Women is the largest feminist organization in the United States. It was founded in 1966 and has a membership of 500,000 contributing members. The organization consists of 550 chapters in all 50 U.S...

. She, with Pauli Murray
Pauli Murray
The Reverend Dr. Anna Pauline Murray was an American civil rights advocate, women's rights activist and feminist, lawyer, writer, poet, teacher, and ordained priest....

, the first black female Episcopal priest, wrote its mission statement. Friedan stepped down as president in 1969.

Under Friedan, NOW advocated fiercely for the legal equality of women and men. They lobbied for enforcement of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963
Equal Pay Act of 1963
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 is a United States federal law amending the Fair Labor Standards Act, aimed at abolishing wage disparity based on sex . It was signed into law on June 10, 1963 by John F. Kennedy as part of his New Frontier Program...

, the first two major legislative victories of the movement, and forced the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is an independent federal law enforcement agency that enforces laws against workplace discrimination. The EEOC investigates discrimination complaints based on an individual's race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, perceived intelligence,...

 to stop ignoring, and start treating with dignity and urgency, claims filed involving sex discrimination. They successfully campaigned for a 1967 Executive Order extending the same Affirmative Action
Affirmative action
Affirmative action refers to policies that take factors including "race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or national origin" into consideration in order to benefit an underrepresented group, usually as a means to counter the effects of a history of discrimination.-Origins:The term...

 granted to blacks to women and a 1968 EEOC decision ruling illegal sex-segregated help want ads, later upheld by the Supreme Court. NOW was vocal in support of the legalization of abortion
Abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

, something that divided some feminists. Also divisive in the 1960s among women was the Equal Rights Amendment
Equal Rights Amendment
The Equal Rights Amendment was a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution. The ERA was originally written by Alice Paul and, in 1923, it was introduced in the Congress for the first time...

, which NOW fully endorsed; by the 1970s the women and labor unions opposed to ERA warmed up to it and began to fully support it. NOW also lobbied for national day-care.

In 1973, Friedan founded the First Women's Bank and Trust Company.

Women's Strike for Equality

In 1970, NOW, with Friedan leading the cause, was instrumental in bringing down the nomination of G. Harrold Carswell, who had opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act which granted women and men workplace equality, to the Supreme Court. On August 26, 1970, the 50th anniversary of the Women's Suffrage Amendment to the Constitution, Friedan organized the national Women's Strike for Equality
Women's Strike for Equality
The Women’s Strike for Equality was a strike which took place in the United States on August 26, 1970. It celebrated the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment, which effectively gave American women the right to vote. The rally was sponsored by the National Organization for...

, and led a march of 50,000 women in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

.

Friedan spoke about the Strike for Equality:

"All kinds of women's groups all over the country will be using this week on August 26 particularly, to point out those areas in women's life which are still not addressed. For example, a question of equality before the law; we are interested in the equal rights amendment. The question of child care centers which are totally inadequate in the society, and which women require, if they are going to assume their rightful position in terms of helping in decisions of the society. The question of a women's right to control her own reproductive processes, that is, laws prohibiting abortion in the state or putting them into criminal statutes; I think that would be a statute that we would addressing ourselves to.


"So I think individual women will react differently; some will not cook that day, some will engage in dialog with their husband, some will be out at the rallies and demonstrations that will be taking place all over the country. Others will be writing things that will help them to define where they want to go. Some will be pressuring their Senators and their Congressmen to pass legislations that affect women. I don't think you can come up with any one point, women will be doing their own thing in their own way."

National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws

Friedan founded the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, renamed National Abortion Rights Action League after the Supreme Court legalized abortion
Roe v. Wade
Roe v. Wade, , was a controversial landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court on the issue of abortion. The Court decided that a right to privacy under the due process clause in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution extends to a woman's decision to have an abortion,...

 in 1973.

Politics

In 1971 Friedan, along with many other leading women's movement leaders, including Gloria Steinem
Gloria Steinem
Gloria Marie Steinem is an American feminist, journalist, and social and political activist who became nationally recognized as a leader of, and media spokeswoman for, the women's liberation movement in the late 1960s and 1970s...

 (with whom she had a legendary rivalry) founded the National Women's Political Caucus
National Women's Political Caucus
The National Women's Political Caucus is a national bipartisan grassroots organization in the United States dedicated to recruiting, training, and supporting women who seek elected and appointed offices....

.

In 1970 Friedan led other feminists in derailing the nomination of Supreme Court nominee G. Harold Carswell whose record of racial discrimination and antifeminism made him unacceptable and unfit to sit on the highest court in the land to many in the civil rights and feminist movements. Friedan's impassioned testimony before the Senate helped sink Carswell's nomination.

In 1972, Friedan unsuccessfully ran as a delegate to the 1972 Democratic National Convention
1972 Democratic National Convention
The 1972 Democratic National Convention was the presidential nominating convention of the Democratic Party for the 1972 presidential election. It was held at Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami Beach, Florida on July 10–13, 1972....

 in support of Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm
Shirley Chisholm
Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm was an American politician, educator, and author. She was a Congresswoman, representing New York's 12th Congressional District for seven terms from 1969 to 1983. In 1968, she became the first black woman elected to Congress...

. That year at the DNC Friedan played a very prominent role and addressed the convention, though she clashed with other women, notably Steinem, on what should be done there, and how.

Movement image and unity

One of the most influential feminists of 20th century, Friedan opposed equating feminism with lesbianism. As early as 1964, very early in the movement, and only a year after the publication of The Feminine Mystique, Friedan appeared on television to address the fact the media was, at that point, trying to dismiss the movement as a joke and centering argument and debate around whether or not to wear bras and other issues considered ridiculous. In 1982, during the second wave, she wrote a book for the post-feminist 1980s
1980s
File:1980s decade montage.png|thumb|400px|From left, clockwise: The first Space Shuttle, Columbia, lifted off in 1981; American President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev eased tensions between the two superpowers, leading to the end of the Cold War; The Fall of the Berlin Wall in...

 called The Second Stage
The Second Stage
The Second Stage is a 1981 book by American feminist, activist and writer Betty Friedan, best known for her earlier book The Feminine Mystique....

, about family life, premised on women having conquered social and legal obstacles.

She pushed the feminist movement to focus on economic issues, especially equality in employment and business and provision for child care and other means by which women and men could balance family and work. She tried to lessen the focus on abortion, as an issue already won, and rape and pornography, which she believed most women did not consider to be high priorities.

Lesbian politics

When she grew up in Peoria
Peoria, Illinois
Peoria is the largest city on the Illinois River and the county seat of Peoria County, Illinois, in the United States. It is named after the Peoria tribe. As of the 2010 census, the city was the seventh-most populated in Illinois, with a population of 115,007, and is the third-most populated...

, Ill.
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

, she knew one gay
Homosexuality
Homosexuality is romantic or sexual attraction or behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality refers to "an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectional, or romantic attractions" primarily or exclusively to people of the same...

 man. She said, "the whole idea of homosexuality made me profoundly uneasy." She later acknowledged that she had been very square and was uncomfortable about homosexuality. "The women's movement was not about sex, but about equal opportunity in jobs
Equal Opportunity Employment
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the first federal law designed to protect most U.S. employees from employment discrimination based upon that employee's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin . The Title also established the U.S...

 and all the rest of it. Yes, I suppose you have to say that freedom of sexual choice is part of that, but it shouldn't be the main issue ...." She ignored lesbian
Lesbian
Lesbian is a term most widely used in the English language to describe sexual and romantic desire between females. The word may be used as a noun, to refer to women who identify themselves or who are characterized by others as having the primary attribute of female homosexuality, or as an...

s in the National Organization for Women
National Organization for Women
The National Organization for Women is the largest feminist organization in the United States. It was founded in 1966 and has a membership of 500,000 contributing members. The organization consists of 550 chapters in all 50 U.S...

 (NOW
National Organization for Women
The National Organization for Women is the largest feminist organization in the United States. It was founded in 1966 and has a membership of 500,000 contributing members. The organization consists of 550 chapters in all 50 U.S...

) initially but objected to what she saw as demands for equal time. "'Homosexuality ... is not, in my opinion, what the women's movement is all about.'" While opposing all repression, she wrote, she refused to wear a purple armband or self-identify as a lesbian (although heterosexual
Heterosexuality
Heterosexuality is romantic or sexual attraction or behavior between members of the opposite sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, heterosexuality refers to "an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectional, physical or romantic attractions to persons of the opposite sex";...

) as an act of political solidarity, considering it not part of the mainstream issues of abortion
Abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

 and child care
Childcare
Child care means caring for and supervising child/children usually from 0–13 years of age. In the United States child care is increasingly referred to as early childhood education due to the understanding of the impact of early experiences of the developing child...

. In 1977, at the National Women's Conference, she seconded a lesbian rights resolution "which everyone thought I would oppose" in order to "preempt any debate" and move on to other issues she believed were more important and less divisive in the effort to add the Equal Rights Amendment
Equal Rights Amendment
The Equal Rights Amendment was a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution. The ERA was originally written by Alice Paul and, in 1923, it was introduced in the Congress for the first time...

 (ERA
Equal Rights Amendment
The Equal Rights Amendment was a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution. The ERA was originally written by Alice Paul and, in 1923, it was introduced in the Congress for the first time...

) to the U.S. Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

. She accepted lesbian sexuality ("'Enjoy!'"), albeit not its politicization. In 1995, at the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 Fourth World Conference on Women, in Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

, China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

, she found Chinese advice to taxi drivers that naked lesbians would be "cavorting" in their cars and so drivers should hang sheets and that lesbians would have AIDS
AIDS
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus...

 and so drivers should have disinfectants to be "ridiculous", "incredibly stupid", and "insulting". In 1997, she wrote that "children ... will ideally come from mother and father." She wrote in 2000, "I'm more relaxed about the whole issue now[.]"

Abortion choice

She supported the concept that abortion
Abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

 is a woman's choice, that it shouldn't be a crime or exclusively a doctor's choice, and helped form NARAL (now NARAL Pro-Choice America
NARAL Pro-Choice America
NARAL Pro-Choice America , formerly the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, then National Abortion Rights Action League, and later National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, is an organization in the United States that engages in political action to oppose...

) at a time when Planned Parenthood
Planned Parenthood
Planned Parenthood Federation of America , commonly shortened to Planned Parenthood, is the U.S. affiliate of the International Planned Parenthood Federation and one of its larger members. PPFA is a non-profit organization providing reproductive health and maternal and child health services. The...

 wasn't yet supportive. Death threats against her speaking on abortion led to two events being canceled, although subsequently one of the host institutions, Loyola College, invited her back to speak on abortion and other issues and she spoke then. Her draft of NOW's first statement of purpose included an abortion plank but NOW didn't include it until the next year. In 1980, she believed abortion should be in the context of "'the choice to have children'", a formulation supported by the Roman Catholic priest
Priesthood (Catholic Church)
The ministerial orders of the Catholic Church include the orders of bishops, deacons and presbyters, which in Latin is sacerdos. The ordained priesthood and common priesthood are different in function and essence....

 organizing Catholic participation in the White House Conference on Families of that year, although perhaps not by the bishops
Bishop (Catholic Church)
In the Catholic Church, a bishop is an ordained minister who holds the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders and is responsible for teaching the Catholic faith and ruling the Church....

 above him. A resolution embodying the formulation passed at the conference by 460 to 114, whereas a resolution addressing abortion, ERA, and "'sexual preference'"
Sexual orientation
Sexual orientation describes a pattern of emotional, romantic, or sexual attractions to the opposite sex, the same sex, both, or neither, and the genders that accompany them. By the convention of organized researchers, these attractions are subsumed under heterosexuality, homosexuality,...

 passed by only 292–291 and that only after 50 anti-abortion advocates had walked out and so hadn't voted on it. She disagreed with a resolution that framed abortion in more feminist terms that was introduced in the Minneapolis regional conference of the same White House Conference on Families, believing it to be more polarizing, while the drafters apparently thought Friedan's formulation too conservative. As of 2000, she wrote, referring to "NOW and the other women's organizations" as seeming to be in a "time warp", "To my mind, there is far too much focus on abortion.... [I]n recent years I've gotten a little uneasy about the movement's narrow focus on abortion as if it were the single, all-important issue for women when it's not" She asked, "Why don't we join forces with all who have true reverence for life, including Catholics who oppose abortion, and fight for the choice to have children?"

Pornography

She joined nearly 200 others in Feminists for Free Expression in opposing the Pornography Victims' Compensation Act
Pornography Victims Compensation Act
The Pornography Victims' Compensation Act of 1991 was a bill, S. 983, in the U.S. Congress. The sponsor in the Senate was Senator Mitch McConnell with eight cosponsors. A Senate committee held hearings on the bill...

. "'[T]o suppress free speech in the name of protecting women is dangerous and wrong,' says Friedan. 'Even some blue-jean ads are insulting and denigrating. I'm not adverse [sic] to a boycott but I don't think they should be suppressed.'"

War

In 1968, Friedan signed the “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War.

Influence

Friedan is credited for starting the contemporary feminist movement and writing a book that is one of the cornerstones of American feminism. Her activist work and her book The Feminine Mystique have been a critical influence to authors, educators, writers, anthropologists, journalists, activists, organizations, unions, and everyday women taking part in the feminist movement. Allan Wolf, in The Mystique of Betty Friedan writes: “She helped to change not only the thinking but the lives of many American women, but recent books throw into question the intellectual and personal sources of her work.” Although there have been some debates on Friedan’s work in The Feminine Mystique since its publication, there is no doubt that her work for equality for women was sincere and committed.

Judith Hennessee (Betty Friedan: Her Life) and Daniel Horowitz, a professor of American Studies at Smith College
Smith College
Smith College is a private, independent women's liberal arts college located in Northampton, Massachusetts. It is the largest member of the Seven Sisters...

, have also written about Friedan. Horowitz explored Friedan’s engagement with the women's movement before she began to work on her book, The Feminine Mystique and argues that Friedan’s feminism did not start in the 1950s but rather before that in the 1940s. Focusing his study on Friedan’s ideas in feminism rather than on her personal life Horowitz’s book connects Friedan to the history of American feminism.

Justine Blau was also greatly influenced by Friedan. In Betty Friedan: Feminist Blau writes about the personal and professional life of Friedan through the feminist movement. Lisa Fredenksen Bohannon in Woman’s work: The story of Betty Friedan goes deep into Friedan’s personal life and writes about her relationship with her mother. Sandra Henry and Emily Taitz (Betty Friedan, Fighter for Woman’s Rights) and Susan Taylor Boyd (Betty Friedan: Voice of Woman’s Right, Advocates of Human Rights), wrote biographies on Friedan’s life and works. Journalist Janann Sheman wrote a book called Interviews with Betty Friedan containing interviews with Friedan for the New York Times, Working Women, and Playboy, among others. Focusing on interviews that relate to Friedan's views on men, women and the American Family Sheman traces Friedan's life and explores The Feminine Mystique. Betty Friedan has influenced many individuals into writing about her and topics about women's rights and equality.

Personality

The New York Times obituary for Friedan noted that she was "famously abrasive" and that she could be "thin-skinned and imperious, subject to screaming fits of temperament." And in February 2006, shortly after Friedan's death, the feminist writer Germaine Greer
Germaine Greer
Germaine Greer is an Australian writer, academic, journalist and scholar of early modern English literature, widely regarded as one of the most significant feminist voices of the later 20th century....

 published an article in The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

, in which she described Friedan as pompous and egotistic
Egotism
Egotism is "characterized by an exaggerated estimate of one's intellect, ability, importance, appearance, wit, or other valued personal characteristics" – the drive to maintain and enhance favorable views of oneself....

, somewhat demanding, and sometimes selfish, as evidenced by repeated incidents during a tour of Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 in 1972.
Indeed, Carl Friedan had been quoted as saying "She changed the course of history almost singlehandedly. It took a driven, super aggressive, egocentric, almost lunatic dynamo to rock the world the way she did. Unfortunately, she was that same person at home, where that kind of conduct doesn't work. She simply never understood this."

Writer Camille Paglia
Camille Paglia
Camille Anna Paglia , is an American author, teacher, and social critic. Paglia, a self-described dissident feminist, has been a Professor at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania since 1984...

, who had been denounced by Friedan in a Playboy
Playboy
Playboy is an American men's magazine that features photographs of nude women as well as journalism and fiction. It was founded in Chicago in 1953 by Hugh Hefner and his associates, and funded in part by a $1,000 loan from Hefner's mother. The magazine has grown into Playboy Enterprises, Inc., with...

interview, wrote a brief obituary for her in Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly is an American magazine, published by the Time division of Time Warner, that covers film, television, music, broadway theatre, books and popular culture...

:

Personal life

She married Carl Friedan, a theatre producer, in 1947 while working at UE News. Friedan continued to work after marriage, first as a paid employee and, after 1952, as a freelance journalist. The couple divorced in May 1969. Friedan stated in her memoir Life So Far (2000) that Carl had beaten her during their marriage; friends such as Dolores Alexander
Dolores Alexander
Dolores Alexander was a lesbian feminist, writer, and reporter. Alexander is the only Executive Director of the National Organization of Women to have resigned because of the homophobic beliefs in the early inception of NOW. She co-opened "Mother Courage" with Jill Ward, creating the first...

 recalled having to cover up black eyes from Carl's abuse in time for press conferences (Brownmiller 1999, p. 70). Carl Friedan denied abusing her in an interview with Time
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

magazine shortly after the book was published, describing the claim as a "complete fabrication". She later said, on Good Morning America
Good Morning America
Good Morning America is an American morning news and talk show that is broadcast on the ABC television network; it debuted on November 3, 1975. The weekday program airs for two hours; a third hour aired between 2007 and 2008 exclusively on ABC News Now...

, "I almost wish I hadn't even written about it, because it's been sensationalized out of context. My husband was not a wife-beater, and I was no passive victim of a wife-beater. We fought a lot, and he was bigger than me." Carl Friedan died in December 2005.

The Friedans had three children: Emily, Daniel and Jonathan. One of their sons, Daniel Friedan
Daniel Friedan
Daniel Harry Friedan is an American theoretical physicist and is one of two sons of the feminist author and activist Betty Friedan. He earned his Ph.D...

, is a noted theoretical physicist.

Friedan died of congestive heart failure at her home in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, on February 4, 2006, her 85th birthday.

Further reading

  • Blau, Justine. Betty Friedan: Feminist (Women of Achievement), Paperback Edition, Chelsea House Publications 1990, ISBN 1-55546-653-2
  • Bohannon, Lisa Frederikson. Women's Work: The Story of Betty Friedan, Hardcover Edition, Morgan Reynolds Publishing 2004, ISBN 1-931798-41-9
  • Brownmiller, Susan
    Susan Brownmiller
    Susan Brownmiller is an American feminist, journalist, author, and activist. She is best known for her pioneering work on the politics of rape in her 1975 book Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape, Brownmiller argues that rape had been hitherto defined by men rather than women; and that men use,...

    . In Our Time: Memoir of a Revolution The Dial Press 1999, ISBN 0-385-31486-8
  • Friedan, Betty. Fountain of Age, Paperback Edition, Simon and Schuster 1994, ISBN 0-671-89853-1
  • Friedan, Betty. It Changed My Life: Writings on the Women's Movement, Hardcover Edition, Random House Inc. 1978, ISBN 0-394-46398-6
  • Friedan, Betty. Life So Far, Paperback Edition, Simon and Schuster 2000, ISBN 0-684-80789-0
  • Friedan, Betty. The Feminine Mystique, Hardcover Edition, W.W. Norton and Company Inc. 1963, ISBN 0-393-08436-1
  • Friedan, Betty. The Second Stage, Paperback Edition, Abacus 1983, ASIN B000BGRCRC
  • Horowitz, Daniel. "Rethinking Betty Friedan and The Feminine Mystique: Labor Union Radicalism and Feminism in Cold War America" American Quarterly, Volume 48, Number 1, March 1996, pp. 1–42
  • Horowitz, Daniel. "Betty Friedan and the Making of "The Feminine Mystique", University of Massachusetts Press, 1998, ISBN 1-55849-168-6
  • Hennessee, Judith. Betty Friedan: Her Life, Hardcover Edition, Random House 1999, ISBN 0-679-43203-5
  • Henry, Sondra. Taitz, Emily. Betty Friedan: Fighter For Women's Rights, Hardcover Edition, Enslow Publishers 1990, ISBN 0-89490-292-X
  • Meltzer, Milton
    Milton Meltzer
    Milton Meltzer was an American historian and author best known for his history nonfiction books on Jewish, African-American and American history...

    . Betty Friedan: A Voice For Women's Rights, Hardcover Edition, Viking Press 1985, ISBN 0-670-80786-9
  • Sherman, Janann. Interviews With Betty Friedan, Paperback Edition, University Press of Mississippi 2002, ISBN 1-57806-480-5
  • Siegel, Deborah, Sisterhood, Interrupted: From Radical Women to Grrls Gone Wild (N.Y.: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007 (ISBN 978-1-4039-8204-9)), chap. 3 (author Ph.D. & fellow, Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership).
  • Taylor-Boyd, Susan. Betty Friedan: Voice For Women's Rights, Advocate of Human Rights, Hardcover Edition, Gareth Stevens Publishing 1990, ISBN 0-8368-0104-0

Obituaries


External links

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