Betty Friedan: Wikis


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Betty Friedan

Friedan in 1960
Born February 4, 1921
Peoria, Illinois
Died February 4, 2006 (aged 85)
Washington, D.C.
Cause of death Congestive heart failure
Nationality United States of America
Known for Reshaping the attitudes of Americans toward the lives and rights of women, and actively campaigning for those rights thereafter.

Betty Friedan (February 4, 1921 - February 4, 2006) was an American writer, activist and feminist.

A leading figure in the "Second Wave" of the U.S. Women's Movement, her 1963 book The Feminine Mystique is sometimes credited with sparking the "second wave" of feminism. Friedan cofounded National Organization for Women in 1966 which aimed to bring women "into the mainstream of American society now [in] fully equal partnership with men". She also wrote the book Our Wayward Sons.

In 1970, after stepping down as NOW's first president in 1969, Friedan organized the nation-wide Women's Strike for Equality on August 26, the 50th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution granting women the right to vote. The national strike was successful beyond expectations in broadening the feminist movement. The New York City march alone attracted over 50,000 women.

Friedan joined other leading feminists (including Gloria Steinem, Shirley Chisholm, Fannie Lou Hamer, Bella Abzug, and Myrlie Evers-Williams) in founding the National Women's Political Caucus in 1971. In 1977 she joined some of the movement's most visible and influential leaders, and 20,000 other women, at the International Women's Year federally-funded convention, the National Women's Conference, a legislative conference which sent a report to President Jimmy Carter, the United States Congress, and all the states on how to achieve equality.

Friedan was a strong proponent of the repeal of abortion laws, founding the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, which after abortion was legalized in 1973, became the National Abortion Rights Action League. She was also a strong supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution and of many women's laws.

Though somewhat eclipsed by Gloria Steinem as America's preeminent feminist, Friedan continued to be an influential author and intellectual and remained active in politics and advocacy for the rest of her life, authoring six books. 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[1][2][3] on February 4, 1921 in Peoria, Illinois,[4] to Harry and Miriam Goldstein. Harry owned a jewelry palace in Peoria, and Miriam wrote for the society page of a newspaper when Betty's father fell ill. Her mother's new life outside the home seemed much more gratifying.

As a young girl, Betty was active in Marxist and Jewish 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".[5] She attended Peoria High School 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, Betty and her friends talked about home life as opposed to school life.

She attended the all-female Smith College 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.[5] She graduated summa cum laude in 1942, majoring in psychology.

In 1943, she spent a year at the University of California, Berkeley having won a fellowship to undertake graduate work in psychology with Erik Erikson[6] . She became more politically active, continuing to mix with Marxists (many of her friends were investigated by the FBI[5]). Friedan claims in her memoirs that her boyfriend at the time pressured her into turning down a Ph.D fellowship for further study, and abandoned her academic career.

Writing career

Before 1963

After leaving Berkeley, Friedan became a journalist for leftist and union publications. Between 1943-46 she wrote for The Federated Press and between 1946-52 she worked for the United Electrical Workers' UE News. One of her assignments was to report on the House Un-American Activities Committee.[6]

Friedan was dismissed from the union newspaper UE News in 1952, because she was pregnant with her second child.[7] After leaving UE News, she became a freelance writer, and wrote for various magazines, including Cosmopolitan.[6]

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 with 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. Published in 1963, it depicted the roles of women in industrial societies, especially the full-time homemaker 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 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.[8] The restrictions of the 1950s, 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.[9] .

Other works

Friedan published six books. Her other books include The Second Stage, It Changed My Life: Writings on the Women's Movement, and The Fountain of Age. Her autobiography, Life so Far, was published in 2000. Beyond Gender 1997

Activism in the Women's Movement

National Organization for Women

In 1966 Betty Friedan co-founded, and became the first president of, the National Organization for Women. She, with Pauli Murray, the first black female Episcopal priest, wrote its mission statement.[10] Friedan stepped down as president in 1969.[11]

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, the first two major legislative victories of the movement, and forced the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission 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 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, something that divided some feminists. Also divisive in the 1960s among women was the Equal Rights Amendment, 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.[12]

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, and led a march of 50,000 women in New York City. Unbelievably successful, the march expanded the movement widely, to Friedan's delight.

[7] [8] [10]

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."[13]

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 in 1973.


In 1971 Friedan, along with countless other leading women's movement leaders, including Gloria Steinem, with whom she had a legendary rivalry, founded the National Women's Political Caucus.

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 empassioned testimony before the Senate helped sink Carswell's nomination.[14]

In 1972, Friedan unsuccessfully ran as a delegate to the 1972 Democratic National Convention in support of Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm. 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.[15]

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.[16] In 1982, during the second wave, she wrote a book for the post-feminist 1980s called The Second Stage, about family life, premised on women having conquered social and legal obstacles.[10][16][17]

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.[18]

Related issues

Lesbian politics

When she grew up in Peoria, Ill., she knew one gay man. She said, "the whole idea of homosexuality made me profoundly uneasy."[19] 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 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 . . . ."[20] She ignored Lesbians in the National Organization for Women (NOW) initially but objected to what she saw as demands for equal time.[19] "'Homosexuality . . . is not, in my opinion, what the women's movement is all about.'"[21] While opposing all repression, she wrote, she refused to wear a purple armband or self-identify as a Lesbian (although heterosexual) as an act of political solidarity, considering it not part of the mainstream issues of abortion and child care.[22] 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 (ERA) to the U.S. Constitution.[23] She accepted Lesbian sexuality ("'Enjoy!'"), albeit not its politicization.[24] In 1995, at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, in Beijing, China, 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 and so drivers should have disinfectants to be "ridiculous", "incredibly stupid", and "insulting".[25] In 1997, she wrote that "children . . . will ideally come from mother and father."[26]She wrote in 2000, "I'm more relaxed about the whole issue now[.]"[27]

Abortion choice

She supported the concept that abortion 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) at a time when Planned Parenthood wasn't yet in support.[28] 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.[29] Her draft of NOW's first statement of purpose included an abortion plank but NOW didn't include it until the next year.[30] In 1980, she believed abortion should be in the context of "'the choice to have children'", a formulation supported by the Roman Catholic priest organizing Catholic participation in the White House Conference on Families of that year,[31] although perhaps not by the bishops above him.[32] A resolution embodying the formulation passed at the conference by 460 to 114, whereas a resolution addressing abortion, ERA, and "'sexual preference'" passed by only 292–291 and that only after 50 anti-abortion advocates had walked out and so hadn't voted on it.[33] 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 Betty Friedan's formulation too conservative.[34] 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"[35] 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?"[36]


She joined nearly 200 others in Feminists for Free Expression in opposing the Pornography Victims' Compensation Act. "'[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 to a boycott but I don't think they should be suppressed.'"[37]


Betty Friedan’s activist work and her book The Feminine Mystique have influenced many individuals like authors, educators, writers, anthropologists, journalists, activists, organizations, unions, and your everyday woman to take part in the feminist movement.[38] Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique has inspired many people for her active role during the 60’s in the feminist movement to write books, be activist and join part in feminism. She is credited for starting the contemporary feminist movement and writing one of the most powerful works in America.[39] Allan Wolf is an author very much inspired by Friedan’s and writes about Friedan’s life and individuals who have studied The Feminine Mystique in great detail in his article The Mystique of Betty Friedan. Wolf states that “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.”[39] His work, like the works of Judith Hennessee's Betty Friedan: Her Life and Daniel Horowitz's Betty Friedan and the Making of the Feminine Mystique: the American Left, the Cold War, and Modern Feminism, go into detail of Friedan’s works and life. Although there have been some debates on Friedan’s work in The Feminine Mystique her work for equality for women was sincere and committed.

Allan Wolf, Judith Hennessee, and Daniel Horowitz are three individuals who have looked closely into Friedan’s work in "The Feminine Mystique" and have studied her ideals and concepts. Daniel Horowitz, a professor of American Studies at Smith College, has written extensively on Friedan's life and work. Horowitz's book, "Betty Friedan and the Making of "The Feminine Mystique"" studies Friedan’s life and feminism. In his book he focuses on Friedan’s appearance into feminism.[40] Horowitz is also trying to explain how thorough and deep Friedan’s engagement was with women’s issue before she began to work on her book, The Feminine Mystique.[41] Horowitz argues that Friedan’s feminism did not start in the 1950’s but rather before that in the 1940’s.[41] Horowitz goes deep into Friedan’s life not her personal life but rather her ideas in feminism.[41] Horowitz’s book overall is trying to connect Friedan’s life to the history of American feminism.[41]

Justine Blau was also greatly influenced by Betty Friedan and wrote Betty Friedan: Feminist. Blau writes about the personal and professional life of Friedan through the feminist movement.[42] Lisa Fredenksen Bohannon also wrote about Friedan’s life in her book Woman’s work: The story of Betty Friedan. In this book Bohannon goes deep into Friedan’s personal life and writes about her relationship with her mother.[43] There are also individuals like Sandra Henry, Emily Taitz who wrote Betty Friedan, Fighter for Woman’s Rights and Susan Taylor Boyd who wrote Betty Friedan: Voice of Woman’s Right, Advocates of Human Rights who wrote biographies on Friedan’s life and works like The Feminine Mystique. Janann Sheman a journalist was very influenced by Friedan and got to work with Betty Friedan while she was still alive and wrote a book on her twenty- two interviews she had with Friedan. Her book took thirty-six years in publication. Her book Interviews with Betty Friedan has interviews with the New York Times, Working Women, and Playboy. Sheman has interviews that relate to her views on men, women and the American Family and traces her life and interviews on The Feminine Mystique.[44] Betty Friedan has influenced many individuals into writing about her and topics about women's rights and equality.


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 published an article in The Guardian,[45] in which she described Friedan as pompous and egotistic, somewhat demanding, and sometimes selfish, as evidenced by repeated incidents during a tour of Iran in 1972.[46]

Betty Friedan "changed the course of human history almost single-handedly." Her ex-husband, Carl Friedan, believes this; Betty believed it too. This belief was the key to a good deal of Betty's behaviour; she would become breathless with outrage if she didn't get the deference she thought she deserved. Though her behaviour was often tiresome, I figured that she had a point. Women don't get the respect they deserve unless they are wielding male-shaped power; if they represent women they will be called "love" and expected to clear up after themselves. Betty wanted to change that forever.

Germaine Greer, "The Betty I Knew," The Guardian (February 7, 2006)

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."[47]

Writer Camille Paglia, who had been denounced by Friedan in a Playboy interview, wrote a brief obituary for her in Entertainment Weekly:

Betty Friedan wasn't afraid to be called abrasive. She pursued her feminist principles with a flamboyant pugnacity that has become all too rare in these yuppified times. She hated girliness and bourgeois decorum and never lost her earthly ethnicity.

Camille Paglia, December 29, 2006/January 5, 2007 double End of the Year issue,[citation needed] section Farewell, pg. 94

The truth is that I've always been a bad-tempered bitch. Some people say that I have mellowed some. I don't know. . . .

Betty Friedan, Life So Far[48]

Personal life

Betty married Carl Friedan, a theatre-producer, in 1947 whilst working at UE News. Betty Friedan continued to work after marriage, first as a paid employee and, after 1952, as a freelance journalist. Betty and Carl divorced in May 1969. Betty claimed in her memoir, Life So Far (2000), that Carl had beaten her during their marriage; friends such as Dolores Alexander 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 magazine shortly after the book was published, describing the claim as a "complete fabrication".[49] She later said, on Good Morning America, "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. They had nine grandchildren: Lara, Birgitta, and Benjamin, children of Daniel, Rafael, Caleb, and Nataya, children of Jonathan, and David, Isabel, and Meira children of Emily. One of their sons, Daniel Friedan, is a noted theoretical physicist.

Friedan died of congestive heart failure at her home in Washington, D.C., on February 4, 2006, her 85th birthday.[46]


See also


  1. ^ Fox, Margalit (Feb. 5, 2006). Betty Friedan, Who Ignited Cause in 'Feminine Mystique,' Dies at 85. N.Y. Times, as accessed Feb. 2, 2010.
  2. ^ Sweet, Corinne (Feb. 7, 2006). Ground-Breaking Author of 'The Feminine Mystique' Who Sparked Feminism's Second Wave. The (London, Eng., U.K.) Independent (obit), as accessed Feb. 2, 2010.
  3. ^ Betty Friedan, in 300 Women Who Changed the World. Encyclopædia Britannica, as accessed Feb. 2, 2010.
  4. ^ Wing Katie Loves Jason, Liz (Summer 2006). "NOW Mourns Foremothers of Feminist, Civil Rights Movements". National Organization for Women. Retrieved February 19, 2007. 
  5. ^ a b c h[citation needed] (sampling of History suggests 1st appearance in Wikipedia was as it is now)
  6. ^ a b c Henderson, Margaret (July 2007). "Betty Friedan 1921–2006". Australian Feminist Studies 22 (53): 163–166. doi:10.1080/08164640701361725. 
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^ Davis, Flora (1991). Moving the Mountain: The Women's Movement in America since 1960. New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 50–53. 
  10. ^ a b c
  11. ^ NOW statement on Friedan's death
  12. ^
  13. ^ "50th Anniversary of Women's Suffrage: 1970 Year in Review,"
  14. ^
  15. ^ Freeman, Jo (February 2005). "Shirley Chisholm's 1972 Presidential Campaign". University of Illinois at Chicago Women's History Project. 
  16. ^ a b YouTube CBCtv interview of Betty Friedan (the video is, according to YouTube, from CBCtv (Canadian television))
  17. ^
  18. ^ Friedan, Betty; ed. Brigid O'Farrell. Beyond Gender: The New Politics of Work and Family. Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson Ctr. Press (Woodrow Wilson Ctr. Spec. Studies ser.), cloth, (ISBN 0-943875-84-6) [1st printing?] 1997. E.g., pp. 8–9.
  19. ^ a b Friedan, Betty. Life So Far: A Memoir. N.Y.: Simon & Schuster (Touchstone Book), © 2000, pbk., 1st Touchstone ed. (ISBN 0-7432-0024-1) [1st printing?] 2001. Page 221.
  20. ^ Friedan, Betty. Life So Far, op. cit. Page 223.
  21. ^ Friedan, Betty. Life So Far, op. cit. Page 222.
  22. ^ Friedan, Betty. Life So Far, op. cit. Pp. 248–249.
  23. ^ Friedan, Betty. Life So Far, op. cit. Page 295.
  24. ^ Friedan, Betty. The Second Stage: With a New Introduction. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, © 1981 1986 1991 1998, 1st Harvard Univ. Press pbk. ed. (ISBN 0-674-79655-1) 1998. Pp. 307–308.
  25. ^ Friedan, Betty. Life So Far, op. cit. Page 365.
  26. ^ Friedan, Betty. Beyond Gender, op. cit. Page 91.
  27. ^ Friedan, Betty. Life So Far, op. cit. Page 249.
  28. ^ Friedan, Betty. Life So Far, op. cit. Pp. 212–216.
  29. ^ Friedan, Betty. Life So Far, op. cit. Page 219.
  30. ^ Friedan, Betty. Life So Far, op. cit. Page 176.
  31. ^ Friedan, Betty. The Second Stage, op. cit. Pp. 94–95.
  32. ^ Friedan, Betty. The Second Stage, op. cit. Page 98.
  33. ^ Friedan, Betty. The Second Stage, op. cit. Pp. 95–96.
  34. ^ Friedan, Betty. The Second Stage, op. cit. Pp. 97–98.
  35. ^ Friedan, Betty. Life So Far, op. cit. Page 377.
  36. ^ Friedan, Betty. The Second Stage, op. cit. Pp. 246–248, esp. p. 247.
  37. ^ Bill Holds Porn Producers Liable For Sex Crimes, by Maria Puente, in USA Today, Apr. 15, 1992, p. 09A (Final ed.) (ProQuest), as accessed Jan. 24, 2010, or alternative link.
  38. ^ National Organization for Women. Tributes to Betty Friedan.
  39. ^ a b Wolf, Allan. The Mystique of Betty Friedan.
  40. ^ Iowa Sate University Archive of Women’s Political Communication. Betty Friedan.
  41. ^ a b c d Daniel Horowitz. Betty Friedan and the Making of "The Feminine Mystique". University of Massachusetts Press, 1998.
  42. ^ Blau, Justine. Betty Friedan: Feminist. Chelsea House Publications 1990.
  43. ^ Bohannon, Lisa Fredenksen. Woman’s work: The story of Betty Friedan. Morgan Reynolds Publishing 2004.
  44. ^ Sheman, Janann. Interviews with Betty Friedan. University Press of Mississippi 2002.
  45. ^ The Betty I knew | World news | The Guardian
  46. ^ a b "Betty Friedan, Who Ignited Cause In 'Feminine Mystique,' Dies at 85". New York Times. February 5, 2006. Retrieved 2008-03-31. "Betty Friedan, the feminist crusader and author whose searing first book, The Feminine Mystique, ignited the contemporary women's movement in 1963 and as a result permanently transformed the social fabric of the United States and countries around the world, died yesterday, her 85th birthday, at her home in Washington. The cause was congestive heart failure, said Emily Bazelon, a family spokeswoman. ... For decades a familiar presence on television and the lecture circuit, Ms. Friedan, with her short stature and deeply hooded eyes, looked for much of her adult life like a 'combination of Hermione Gingold and Bette Davis,' as Judy Klemesrud wrote in The New York Times Magazine in 1970." 
  47. ^ Ginsberg L., "Ex-hubby fires back at feminist icon Betty," New York Post, 5 July 2000
  48. ^ Friedan, Betty. Life So Far, op. cit. Page 379.
  49. ^ Betty Friedan, Who Ignited Cause in 'Feminine Mystique,' Dies at 85 - New York Times

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. 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. 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
  • 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


External links

Preceded by
President of the National Organization for Women
Succeeded by
Aileen Hernandez


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

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.

Betty Friedan (4 February 19214 February 2006) was a "second-wave" feminist best known for The Feminine Mystique, a critique of women's role as stay-at-home mothers.



  • 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.[1]

The Feminine Mystique (1963)

ISBN 0393322572
The problem lay buried, unspoken for many years in the minds of American women...
  • 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 women suffered in the middle of the twentieth century in the United States. Each suburban housewife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night, she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question — “Is this all?”
    • Opening lines, Ch. 1 "The Problem That Has No Name"
  • 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"
  • The feminine mystique has succeeded in burying millions of American women alive.
    • Ch 13 "The Forfeited Self"
  • It is easier to live through someone else than to become complete yourself.
    • Ch. 14 "A New Life Plan for Women"
  • The problem that has no name (which is simply the fact that American women are kept from growing to their full human capacities) is taking a far greater toll on the physical and mental health of our country than any known disease.
    • Ch. 14 "A New Life Plan for Women"
  • When women take their education and their abilities seriously and put them to use, ultimately they have to compete with men. It is better for a woman to compete impersonally in society, as men do, than to compete for dominance in her own home with her husband, compete with her neighbors for empty status, and so smother her son that he cannot compete at all.
    • Ch. 14 "A New Life Plan for Women"
  • A woman is handicapped by her sex, and handicaps society, either by slavishly copying the pattern of man’s advance in the professions, or by refusing to compete with man at all.
    • Ch. 14 "A New Life Plan for Women"

The Playboy Interview (1992)

Interview of Friedan by David Sheff Playboy September 1992, pp. 51-54, 56, 58, 60, 62, 149; reprinted in full in Interviews with Betty Friedan, Janann Sherman, ed. Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2002, ISBN 1578064805.

  • "Do you object to the celebration of sexuality in our pictorials?
  • Friedan: A celebration of women's bodies is all right with me so long as there is no denial of the personhood of women. I suppose sometimes women are sex objects -- and men are too, by the way. It's the definition of women just as sex objects that bothers me. Women can celebrate themselves as sex objects, they can celebrate their own sexuality and can enjoy the sexuality of men as far as I'm concerted. Let's have men centerfolds. [..] Playboy's centerfold is fine. It's holding onto your own anachronism and it is not pornographic, though many of my sisters would disagree. It's harmless. [...] Playboy strikes me as an odd mixture of sex -- sometimes juvenile --- and forward intellectual thoughts.
  • Friedan: There was a masculine mystique, too.
  • Playboy: What was it?
  • Friedan: Men had to be supermen: stoic, responsible meal tickets. Dominance is a burden. Most men who are honest will admit that.
  • Playboy: What's behind the current's men's movement?
  • Friedan: I think it's partly a reaction against feminism, partly envy of feminism, and partly partly a real need of men to evolve through the burden of the masculine mystique, the burden of machismo.
  • Friedan: I thought it was absolutely outrageous that the Silence of the Lambs won four Oscars. [...] I'm not saying that the movie shouldn't have been shows. I'm not denying the movie was an artistic triumph, but it was about the evisceration, the skinning alive of women. That is what I find offensive. Not the Playboy centerfold.

It Changed My Life: Writings on the Women's Movement (1998)

  • If I were a man, I would strenuously object to the assumption that women have any moral or spiritual superiority as a class. This is [...] female chauvinism. Friedan, Betty. 1998.

The Fountain of Age (1993)

  • What had really caused the women’s movement was the additional years of human life. At the turn of the century women’s life expectancy was forty-six; now it was nearly eighty. Our groping sense that we couldn’t live all those years in terms of motherhood alone was “the problem that had no name.” Realizing that it was not some freakish personal fault but our common problem as women had enabled us to take the first steps to change our lives.
    • Preface
  • If women’s role in life is limited solely to housewife/mother, it clearly ends when she can no longer bear more children and the children she has borne leave home.
    • Ch. 4


  • Aging is not "lost youth" but a new stage of opportunity and strength. Friedan, B. (1994, March 20). How to live longer, better, wiser. Parade Magazine, p. 4-6.
  • If divorce has increased by one thousand percent, don't blame the women's movement. Blame the obsolete sex roles on which our marriages were based.
  • No woman gets an orgasm from shining the kitchen floor.
  • The only kind of work which permits an able woman to realize her abilities fully, to achieve identity in society in a life plan that can encompass marriage and motherhood, is the kind that was forbidden by the feminine mystique, the lifelong commitment to an art or science, to politics or profession.
  • When she stopped conforming to the conventional picture of femininity she finally began to enjoy being a woman.


  1. Interviews with Betty Friedan, Janann Sherman, ed. Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2002, ISBN 1578064805, p. x

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Betty Friedan (February 4, 1921 - February 4, 2006) was an American writer, activist and feminist.[1] She wrote the book The Feminine Mystique in 1963.[2] She argued in the book that there was more to life for women than the achievemants of their husbands and children. In an interview for Life magazine in 1963 she said "Women of the the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your vacuum cleaner!" [1] She helped set up the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966 and was its first president.[3]


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