I really object to your using derogatory terms to talk about women. A: Certainly, it was important. I think women, and a lot of men, abhor this culture of violence, which is the other half of the culture of greed. Q: Your first full-length memoir comes on the heels of two new biographies. Were you trying to beat them to the punch?
A: No, I think I had started writing that before they came out. A: It was in the McCarthy era.
Betty Friedan, Who Ignited Cause in 'Feminine Mystique,' Dies at 85 - The New York Times
On the other hand, I never kept it secret. Maybe not as bad as the right. In fact, I brought feminism to the left wing. A: Well, I was fired for being pregnant. Q: You wrote in your memoir about your year marriage and how your then-husband, Carl Friedan, beat you. For the record, he denies it. He told Time magazine that your allegation was outrageous. A: I know, as the leading feminist, that it was not anti-man. Look, we had a year, stormy marriage.
We both were hot-tempered. And then I began to get this unpredicted, unprecedented kind of fame. So it was threatening to him.
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Nobody I knew personally, certainly nobody in my family, had ever been divorced. Also, I had this fear of being alone, of going in the world alone. And once I did get a divorce, I was fine.
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But, taking on the world alone--I was afraid of it. In their relationships with their spouses, who does the laundry? A: I have a feeling that my daughter and my daughters-in-law take most of the responsibility. But certainly my sons and my son-in-law share in it much more equally than men used to do. My oldest son is a theoretical physicist working on string theory. He has a McCarthy genius award. He recently took charge of all the meals. My daughter-in-law is the only woman physicist in Iceland.
You compared the suburbs, the bastion of traditional women in the s, to a concentration camp.
Friedan, Betty Naomi
The dynamic that Bettelheim analyzed struck me as so analogous to what kept women from rebelling against their narrow, rigid housewife life. A: I regret certain things. I would have loved being an archeologist or anthropologist. I would have loved to go to law school. But, on the other hand. And I have nine gorgeous grandchildren. I always felt that my kids were the great bonus of my life. A: The culture of greed.
The fact that there seem to be no values in our society--values more important than sheer material wealth.
She also wrote freelance magazine articles, many for magazines directed at the middle-class housewife. In , for the 15th reunion of her graduating class at Smith, Friedan was asked to survey her classmates on how they'd used their education.
Most were unhappy in their roles. Friedan analyzed the results and consulted experts. She found that both women and men were trapped in limiting roles. Friedan wrote up her results and tried to sell the article to magazines but could find no buyers. So she turned her work into a book, which was published in as "The Feminine Mystique. Friedan also became a celebrity as a result of the book. She moved with her family back to the city and she became involved in the growing women's movement. In June , she attended a Washington meeting of state commissions on the status of women.
Friedan was among those present who decided that the meeting was unsatisfying, as it didn't generate any actions to implement the findings on the inequality of women. Friedan served as its first president for three years. In , the first NOW convention took on the Equal Rights Amendment and abortion, though NOW viewed the abortion issue as highly controversial and focused more on political and employment equality.
In , Friedan helped found the National Conference for the Repeal of Abortion Laws to focus more on the abortion issue ; this organization changed its name after the Roe v. In that same year, she stepped down as NOW president. In , Friedan led in organizing the Women's Strike for Equality on the 50th anniversary of winning the vote for women.
The turnout was beyond expectations; 50, women participated in New York alone. In , Friedan helped form the National Women's Political Caucus for feminists who wanted to work through the traditional political structure, including political parties, and running or supporting women candidates. She was less active in NOW, which became more concerned with "revolutionary" action and "sexual politics;" Friedan was among those who wanted more focus on political and economic equality.
Friedan also took a controversial stand on lesbians in the movement.
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NOW activists and others in the women's movement struggled over how much to take on issues of lesbian rights and how welcoming to be of movement participation and leadership by lesbians. For Friedan, lesbianism was not a women's rights or equality issue but a matter of private life, and she warned the issue might diminish support for women's rights, using the term "lavender menace. She urged the movement to avoid acting in ways that made it difficult for "mainstream" men and women to identify with feminism. By the s, she was more critical of the focus on "sexual politics" among feminists.
She published "The Second Stage" in In her book, Friedan wrote of the "feminine mystique" and the housewife's question, "Is this all?