Betty Friedan was an iconic American writer, activist and feminist, who was the creator of The Feminine Mystique, which led to the second wave of American feminism in the 20th century. One of the most prominent figures in the women's movement in the United States, she was the co-founder and first president of the National Organization for Women. The idea of this organization was to empower women into the mainstream of the society, bringing them at par with the opposite gender. Her other notable works include Beyond Gender, It Changed My Life: Writings on the Women's Movement and The Second Stage. This National Women's Hall of Fame inductee was presented with honorary doctorate of humane letter from Smith College, State University at Stony Brook, Columbia University and Bradley University. The Glamour magazine registered Friedan in the list of "The 75 Most Important Women of the Past 75 Years". Here are some of the famous quotes from this champion of feminism.
All year there have been these cover stories that the women's movement is dead and about the death of feminism and the post-feminist generation of young women who don't identify with feminism - and then we have the biggest march ever of women in Washington. More people than had ever marched for anything - not only more women, but more people.
I was at a meeting two years ago in Beijing, and I passed a bunch of women who were marching in a protest. Their signs were probably saying something I wouldn't have agreed with at all. But I was so glad to see women marching. And it's happening all over the world.
Certain signs, some of them visible to the layman as well as the scientist, indicate that we have been watching an ice age approach for some time without realizing what we are seeing... Scientists predict that it will cause great snows which the world has not seen since the last ice age thousands of years ago.
Economic equity is an enormous empowerment of women. Having jobs that provide income means that women can be a more effective force, a more equal force, in the political process. Women with income take themselves more seriously and they are taken more seriously.
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.
It is easier to live through someone else than to complete yourself. The freedom to lead and plan your own life is frightening if you have never faced it before. It is frightening when a woman finally realizes that there is no answer to the question 'who am I' except the voice inside herself.
If divorce has increased by one thousand percent, don't blame the women's movement. Blame the obsolete sex roles on which our marriages were based.
It is frightening when a woman finally realizes that there is no answer to the question 'who am I' except the voice inside herself.
By now, abortion should be obsolete. And I - and probably a lot of other feminists - wish it were obsolete, because abortion, in itself, is not a value - it is simply the right to chose, which is an essential value.
Just as darkness is sometimes defined as the absence of light, so age is defined as the absence of youth.
Over and over again, stories in women's magazines insist that women can know fulfillment only at the moment of giving birth to a child. They deny the years when she can no longer look forward to giving birth, even if she repeats the act over and over again. In the feminine mystique, there is no other way for a woman to dream of creation or of the future. There is no other way she can even dream about herself, except as her children's mother, her husband's wife.
Men, also, have in them enormous capacities that they have to repress and fear in themselves, living up to this obsolete and brutal man-eating, bear-killing, Ernest Hemingway, crewcut Prussian sadistic, napalm all the children in Vietnam, bang-bang you're dead, image of masculinity, the image of all powerful masculine superiority that is absolute.
The only kind of work which permits an able woman to realize her abilities fully, to achieve identity in society in a life plan that can encompass marriage and motherhood, is the kind that was forbidden by the feminine mystique, the lifelong commitment to an art or science, to politics or profession. If divorce has increased by one thousand percent, don't blame the women's movement. Blame the obsolete sex roles on which our marriages were based.
The key to the trap is, of course, education. The feminine mystique has made higher education for women seem suspect, unnecessary and even dangerous. But I think that education, and only education, has saved, and can continue to save, American women from the greater dangers of the feminine mystique.
Each suburban wife struggles with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night- she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question-- 'Is this all?
I never set out to write a book to change women's lives, to change history. It's like, 'Who, me?' Yes, me. I did it. And I'm not that different from other women. Maybe my power and glory was that I could speak my truth as a woman and it was the truth of every woman.
The problem lay buried, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American women. It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning [that is, a longing] that women suffered in the middle of the 20th century in the United States. Each suburban [house]wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries ... she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question - 'Is this all?
Life lived only for oneself does not truly satisfy men or women. There is a hunger in Americans today for larger purposes beyond the self. That is the reason for the religious revival and the new resonance of 'family.