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    Eisenhower’s Nemesis Meets Her Death

    by SajiniW on 6th February, 2006 at 2:27 am    

    Eisenhower’s America. The baby boom and the American dream; 1963 was on a roll.

    Betty Friedan, feminist philosopher, was one of his most vocal opponents. A feisty fighter to the end, she passed away on the 4th of February, with congestive heart failure cited as the reason for her demise.

    Imagine the controversy caused when the ‘Feminine Mystique’ was published, where a woman asserted that ‘ having a husband and babies was not everything and that women should aspire to separate identities as individuals’. She asserted that

    “a woman has got to be able to say, and not feel guilty, `Who am I, and what do I want out of life?’ She mustn’t feel selfish and neurotic if she wants goals of her own, outside of husband and children,”

    Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine and a former president of the National Organization for Women, praised Friedan’s legacy.

    Friedan, she said, “was a giant for women’s rights and a leading catalyst of the 20th century whose work led to profound changes improving the status of women and women’s lives” worldwide. “The Feminine Mystique” helped to “define the lesser status of women,” she said.

    “That book changed women’s lives,” said Kim Gandy, current president of National Organisation of Women, which Friedan co-founded. “It opened women’s minds to the idea that there actually might be something more. And for the women who secretly harbored such unpopular thoughts, it told them that there were other women out there like them who thought there might be something more to life.”

    In the racial, political and sexual conflicts of the 1960s and ’70s, Friedan’s was one of the most commanding voices and recognizable presences in the women’s movement.

    As the first president of NOW in 1966, she staked out positions that seemed extreme at the time on such issues as abortion, sex-neutral help-wanted ads, equal pay, promotion opportunities and maternity leave.

    At the same time, Friedan insisted that the women’s movement had to remain in the American mainstream, that men had to be accepted as allies and that the family should not be rejected.

    By her 70s, Friedan had moved on to the issue of how society views and treats its elderly.

    Whilst researching her last book, “The Fountain of Age,” published in 1993, she found those who dealt with old people “talk about the aged with the same patronizing, `compassionate’ denial of their personhood that was heard when the experts talked about women 20 years ago.”

    An interesting observation, don’t you think?

    Betty is survived by her sons, daughter and siblings. Her funeral will be held on Monday at the Riverside Memorial Chapel in New York.

    Her biography can be found here.

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    Filed in: Current affairs,Moral police,The World

    4 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs

    1. jamal — on 6th February, 2006 at 10:18 am  

      I wish I make it to 85!

    2. mirax — on 6th February, 2006 at 5:40 pm  

      Thank you for this post Sajini. Betty Friedan’s an excellent example of how we should aim to lead our lives.

    3. Sunny — on 7th February, 2006 at 1:12 am  

      Nice post Sajini…. and a worthwhile person to highlight.

    4. SajiniW — on 7th February, 2006 at 10:23 am  

      Thank you :)

      Friedan wasn’t just a feminist. She was an equalist.

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