Monday, February 06, 2006

Rest in Peace, Ms. Betty Friedan

Betty Friedan died on her birthday last Saturday at the age of 85. Though later in my life than for so many of my peers, Ms. Friedan taught me to see the great measure more I could do as I passed through the worlds I would touch in a lifetime. I read her (my) Feminine Mystique for the first time in a graduate class addressing intellectual history – thanks to Dr. Elizabeth Dunn.

Rest in peace, Ms. Friedan. I will continue to carry the flame you once helped me light.

From USAToday:

Her 1963 best seller, The Feminine Mystique, detailed the lives of American women who were expected to find their fulfillment through their husbands and children. It helped reshape American attitudes toward women's aspirations and rights. She went on to found the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966. Friedan fought for equal pay for women, gender-free want ads, maternity leave and legal abortion.

"She was a giant in the 20th-century women's movement," said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation and former president of NOW. "Not only did she define the problem of women's status, but she also launched the movement to change women's roles forever."


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3 comments:

:: jozjozjoz :: said...

What a nice homage to Betty Friedan. Thanks for sharing.

Brenda said...

I read Betty Friedan 30 years ago... and she did change me. Without that book, who knows. Though I did elect to make the sacrifices financially and career-wise to stay home with my children in the early years, I felt, because of Friedan, that I did it with my eyes open and focussed on mothering as a viable feminist area of enquiry, which of course it is. Friedan didn't make the choices any easier for women, but she made us conscious of them in terms of how we live our lives, how we spend our energies. The kind of entrapment she spoke about was so real in the 50s, and she was one of the blazing lights who helped to free women from a socially enforced essentialism and, baby, look at where we are now! In a scant 40 years...

You've written a beautiful tribute to Betty Friedan, than you.

Brenda said...

Oh dear, why do women do this? They're two icons, Olympians, founders, brilliant pioneering women... Greer's, The Betty I Knew.