Friedan, Betty Naomi

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Friedan, Betty Naomi

Betty Naomi Friedan (frēdăn´), 1921–2006, American social reformer and feminist, b. Peoria, Ill. as Bettye Goldstein, educated at Smith College (B.A., 1942) and the Univ. of California at Berkeley. A suburban housewife and sometime writer, she published The Feminine Mystique (1963), attacking the then-popular notion that women could find fulfillment only as wives, childbearers, and homemakers. Widely read and extremely influential, the book played an important role in the creation of the modern feminist movement. In 1966 Friedan helped found the National Organization for Women and served as its president until 1970. She also helped organize the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws in 1969 and the National Women's Political Caucus in 1971. In The Second Stage (1981), she argued that feminists must reclaim the family and bring more men into the movement by addressing child care, parental leave, and flexible work schedules. In The Fountain of Age (1993) Friedan criticized "the age mystique" and society's frequently patronizing treatment of the elderly; she advocated new, positive roles for older citizens.

See her It Changed My Life: Writings on the Women's Movement (1976) and her memoir Life So Far (2000); biography by J. Hennessee (1999); study by S. Coontz (2010).

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