Sunday, July 8, 2007

Betty Friedan, by Leah Christian

Betty Friedan was born on February 4, 1921 as Bettye Naomi Goldstein in Peoria, Illinois. Her mother was a button hawker and later became a jewelry shop owner. Once pregnant with Friedan, she quit her current job as editor of a women's page of a newspaper. When Friedan's father died her mother took over the family shop. Friedan realized how frustrated her mother was as a stay at home mother after returning to work. She, like most women, enjoyed working in stead of being a stay at home mother. In high school, Friedan was an active member of their school newspaper. She graduated in 1938. She attended Smith College, where she edited the school newspaper and graduated in 1942. For about ten years she worked for two different labor journals; The Federated Press, and the United Electrical Workers' UE News.

She married Carl Friedman, a theater producer, in 1947 (the "m" was dropped after they were married). The Friedan's had three children, Emily, Daniel, and Jonathan. Betty and Carl divorced in May 1969. She claimed that Carl abused her during their marriage and for press conferences she had to cover her black eyes with make-up. Friedan died of congestive heart failure at her home in Washington, D.C., on Feburaury 4, 2006, her 85th birthday.

Through out her time Betty Friedan overcame many difficult accomplishments. She co-founded the U.S. National Organization for women, along with 27 other men and women. She also co-founded the NARAL (originally National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws), along with Bernard Nathanson and Larry Lader. Through her time she has successfully published six books; The Feminine Mystique (1963), It Changed My Life (1976), The Second Stage (1981), The Fountain of Age (1993), and Beyond Gender (1997).

Many, including Carl and herself, believe that she "changed the course of human history almost single-handedly." She was known to be abrasive, demanding, and sometimes selfish, but Betty did not mind being called these things. Instead, she was proud that at times her words and beliefs stood out against men. She believed that without a force or push, there will never be a successful outcome. She gave many women the confidence that was needed, she believed that if she could overcome so much by herself, then any women could do the same. Although I have not heard of her or her influences on feminism, I am happy to have completed the research and learned about her contributions.

By: Leah Christian


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