Magazine article National NOW Times

NOW Founder's Book Voiced Dissatisfaction of Middle-Class Women, "Opened Women's Eyes" to Something More

Magazine article National NOW Times

NOW Founder's Book Voiced Dissatisfaction of Middle-Class Women, "Opened Women's Eyes" to Something More

Article excerpt

On Feb. 4, 2006, NOW lost its first president and one of the most important icons of the feminist movement, Betty Friedan. The fearless leader of second-wave feminism died on her 85th birthday of congestive heart failure at her home in Washington, D.C.

She was born on February 4, 1921, as Bettye Goldstein in Peoria, Ill. Her father was a Jewish immigrant who owned a jeweler's shop and her mother was an editor of the local newspaper's women's pages. Her mother quit her job to become a homemaker, but later took over the family business when her father fell ill. Friedan was valedictorian of her high school and attended Smith College, where she edited the college newspaper and graduated summa cum laude in 1942.

Friedan published her groundbreaking book, "The Feminine Mystique," in 1963. "The Feminine Mystique" voiced the dissatisfaction of many middle-class homemakers: "The problem that has no name - which is simply the fact that American women are kept from growing to their full human capacities - is taking a far greater toll on the physical and mental health of our country than any known disease." Women around the world say that her book, and the revolution it sparked, changed their lives for the better.

"Freidan wrote The Feminine Mystique in 1963, and it opened women's eyes," said NOW President Kim Gandy. "Betty recognized a longing in the women of her generation, a longing for something more - opportunity, recognition, fulfillment, success, a chance to live their own dreams beyond the narrow definition of 'womanhood' that had limited their lives." The Feminine Mystique was a controversial bestseller and helped to recharge the feminist movement, sparking second-wave feminism and the founding of NOW.

In June 1966, Betty Friedan and 27 other women and men founded NOW, an organization which has grown into the United States' largest feminist organization and continues to thrive in its 40th year. …

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