Friday, February 22, 2008

Blog #2 - Betty Friedan

Stevie R. Bowling
Blog #2 – Betty Friedan
February 22, 2008
Womens Studies 200
Professor Joelle Ryan

On February 4, 1921, Betty Naomi Friedan (Goldenburg) was born in Peoria, Illinois. She attended school there in town where she instantly became interested in writing columns for her school newspaper. After high school graduation in 1938, Friedan went on to attend Smith College (an all female university) to major in Psychology. She excelled academically to win scholarships and still continued to publish her poems and writing samples in the college publications which helped her work her way up to editior-in-chief of the Smith College newspaper. A few years later, Friedan graduated near the top of her class in 1942 and continued on to graduate school at the University of California at Berkely where she worked with re-knowned psychologist Erik Erikson, but later turned down the opportunity to receive her PhD and that was the end of her academic career. She married Carl Friedman in 1947, but later divorced in 1969. They had three children together. Betty Friedan passed away on her 85th birthday on February 4, 2006 due to congestive heart failure.

After leaving UC-Berkeley in 1944, Friedan went on to work as a journalist for a few different publications that included The Federated Press and the United Electric Workers – UE News. Friedan claims that she was fired from the UE News in 1952 because she was pregnant with her second child, but many claim that statement was untrue and it is still unclear to many why she was fired. Friedan left the UE News and became a free-lance writer for a handful of magazines that even included the popular women’s magazine Cosmopolitan. Friedan was very interested in hearing about the lives of women and if they were truly satisified with their current lives and their experiences.

In 1963 Friedan accomplished a huge goal when she published what many refer to as the “Second Wave” of Feminism titled The Feminine Mystique. Friedan wrote about the lives of those women who took on the homemaker role and feel trapped in their lives for they never take on the role of a working citizen who could also keep a family. She discussed many psychological theories of psychologists like Freud and offererd answers to those women who wanted to move on with their lives and get an education and a job while still tending to their family. Her book was a huge best seller and many give credit it to her book for sparking up the women’s movement.

Not only did Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique contribute to women’s rights and feminism, she also wrote books titled The Second Stage and The Fountain of Age which educated those on the issues that women face and their fight for equal rights and freedoms. Betty Friedan is credited for co-founding “NOW” the National Organization for Women and “NARAL” National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws for she was an advocate for legal abortion. Friedan was also a lead supporter of the lesbian community when she seconded the motion supporting lesbian rights at the Women’s Conference which Dr. Jocelynne A. Scutt described this as “a defining moment for the U.S. Women's Movement, for lesbian rights, and for Betty Friedan” (Wikipedia 1)

Betty Friedan contributed to feminism and the women’s rights in so many ways and made such a huge impact on those women who were struggling with the lives they were living. Not only did Friedan publish books that opened the eyes of feminists out there, she inspired so many with all of the different organizations she founded and worked for.

In high school, we researched the impact theat Friedan had on so many in my American government class senior year. We discussed feminism and those who stood out during the women’s movement and Friedan was one of them. After researching more on Friedan I am thankful for the differences that she has made in my life although I may not always realize it. With her guidance, so many women achieved great things which all have led up to the rights and freedoms that I have today at 20 years old.

National Women’s Hall of Fame
American Writers
Books written by Betty Friedan
The Feminine Mystique (1963)
It Changed My Life (1976)
The Second Stage (1981)
The Fountain of Age (1993)
Beyond Gender (1997)
Life So Far (2000)

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