Betty Friedan - Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World - Ann Shen

Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World - Ann Shen (2016)

Betty Friedan

Betty Friedan (1921-2006) is often credited as the mother of the second wave feminist movement. With her 1963 book The Feminine Mystique, Friedan dared to ask: Now that women have had the right to vote for over forty years, what else do they want to do?

Born to Jewish immigrants in suburban Chicago, Friedan faced anti-Semitic treatment growing up, which later helped her identify with minority groups in her work. She became a journalist while in college at Smith; after graduation she moved to New York City to write for labor news syndicates. Friedan married and had three children, and it was at her fifteenth Smith college reunion, where she surveyed her fellow coeds-turned-housewives, that she started to put a name to that postwar, middle class woman’s dissatisfaction that would be the subject of The Feminine Mystique. The book addressed “the problem that has no name”: that women who were educated, married, and raising children still found themselves unsatisfied.

In 1966, Friedan cofounded and served as president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), which worked politically to give women fair opportunities and treatment in the workplace. The focus was to create a landscape where women could pursue a career outside the home; they also touched on issues of abortion, federal funding for child care services, poverty, and LGBT rights. In addition to NOW, Friedan also cofounded the National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC) and the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL). She was famously hot-headed, and her outspokenness led to her dismissal from two of the groups she helped found. Friedan wrote six more books, including memoirs and more nonfiction books on social issues.

Dared to ask, Is this it?