Monday, February 06, 2006

Betty Friedan

Betty Friedan passed away on her 85th birthday.

Veena and R~ (on Anand's blog) have written about how Betty Friedan has influenced their thinking.

Not every feminist owes her/his awakening to Friedan; some would prefer to give this status to Simone de Beauvoir. And, the idea of feminism is older than The Feminine Mystique; Mary Wollstonecraft wrote Vindication of the Rights of Woman in 1792. But, in terms of influence -- both immediate and lasting -- she certainly is the mother of all feminists.

The New York Times' obituary also includes a special Betty Friedan retrospective, which includes some of her own columns, reviews of her books, articles about her and more.

Let me end this post with a quote from the first chapter of The Feminine Mystique:

In 1960, the problem that has no name burst like a boil through the image of the happy American housewife. In the television commercials the pretty housewives still beamed over their foaming dishpans and Time's cover story on "The Suburban Wife, an American Phenomenon" protested: "Having too good a time . . . to believe that they should be unhappy." But the actual unhappiness of the American housewife was suddenly being reported--from the New York Times and Newsweek to Good Housekeeping and CBS Television ("The Trapped Housewife"), although almost everybody who talked about it found some superficial reason to dismiss it. It was attributed to incompetent appliance repairmen (New York Times), or the distances children must be chauffeured in the suburbs (Time), or too much PTA (Redbook). Some said it was the old problem--education: more and more women had education, which naturally made them unhappy in their role as housewives. [...]