Stumbling Toward Enlightenment

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Remember the Ladies: Betty Friedan


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Friedan in 1960

Friedan in 1960

Betty Naomi Goldstein (February 4, 1921 – February 4, 2006) was an American writer, activist, and feminist. A leading figure in the women’s movement in the United States, her 1963 book The Feminine Mystique is often credited with sparking the second wave of American feminism in the 20th century. In 1966, Friedan co-founded and was elected the first president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), 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 nationwide 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 march led by Friedan in New York City alone attracted over 50,000 women and men. In 1971, Friedan joined other leading feminists to establish the National Women’s Political Caucus. Friedan was also a strong supporter of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment 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: she founded the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws but was later critical of the abortion-centered positions of many liberal feminists.

Regarded as an influential author and intellectual 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 (1981), critiqued what Friedan saw as the extremist excesses of some feminists.

Awards and Honors

  • Honorary doctorate of humane letters from Smith College (1975)
  • Humanist of the Year from the American Humanist Association (1975)
  • Mort Weisinger Award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors (1979)
  • Honorary doctorate of humane letters from the State University at Stony Brook (1985)
  • Eleanor Roosevelt Leadership Award (1989)
  • Honorary doctorate of humane letters from Bradley University (1991)
  • Induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame (1993)
  • Honorary doctorate of letters from Columbia University (1994)
  • “The 75 Most Important Women of the Past 75 Years” – Glamour magazine listed Friedan as one of them (2014)


  • The Feminine Mystique (1963)
  • It Changed My Life: Writings on the Women’s Movement (1976)
  • The Second Stage (1981)
  • The Fountain of Age (1993)
  • Beyond Gender (1997)
  • Life So Far (2000)

Author: barenose

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