Significant Contemporary American Feminists: A Biographical Sourcebook

By Jennifer Scanlon | Go to book overview

BETTY FRIEDAN
(1921-)

Susan Butler

If anything were to be said about me when the history of the movement is written, I'd like it to read, "She was the one who said women were people, she organized them and taught them to spell their own names."

-- Betty Friedan, quoted in Wilkes 1970

Borrowing from James Baldwin's claim that until the black man could learn to spell his own name, he would never be free, Betty Friedan believes that until women learn to spell out their needs, they will never realize equal status in society. Friedan conceives that her contribution to second wave feminism is that she provided women with the necessary tools. By articulating the undefined grievances of suburban housewives in The Feminine Mystique, she provided an alphabet that women used to spell out their needs. By spearheading the formation of the National Organization of Women (NOW), she gave them the necessary paper and pencil.

Bettye Naomi Goldstein discovered as a child and adolescent that geographic location and parental influence laid the emotional and intellectual foundation for public life. Until college, Friedan lived in Peoria, Illinois, the considered epicenter of American values. Never weaned from the values of middle America, she has consistently argued for employing pragmatic tactics to achieve change in the economic, social, and political status of women. Of even greater influence than geography were her parents. Harry Goldstein immigrated from Russia and established one of the finest jewelry stores in Peoria. When his daughter was shut out of high school cliques because she was Jewish, smart, and an "ugly duckling," Harry empathized, telling her that often people friendly to him during the business day refused to speak to him "after sundown." Learning from her father that discrimination exists beyond the insecurity of teenage status-seeking, Friedan gained a passionate concern for those pushed to the margins of society.

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Significant Contemporary American Feminists: A Biographical Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Editorial Board ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Bella Abzug (1920-1998) 1
  • Paula Gunn Allen (1939-) 8
  • Gloria AnzaldÚa (1942-) 14
  • Frances Beale (1940-) 22
  • Rita Mae Brown (1944-) 28
  • Charlotte Bunch (1944-) 36
  • Pat Califia (1954-) 44
  • Judy Chicago (1939-) 51
  • Shirley Chisholm (1924-) 55
  • Esther Ngan-Ling Chow (1943-) 60
  • Pearl Cleage (1948-) 66
  • Kate Clinton (1945- ) 73
  • Mary Daly (1928- ) 79
  • Angela Davis (1944-) 86
  • Shulamith Firestone (1945-) 98
  • Jo Freeman (1945-) 104
  • Betty Friedan (1921-) 111
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-) 118
  • Bell Hooks (1952- ) 125
  • Dolores Huerta (1930-) 133
  • June Jordan (1936-) 138
  • Evelyn Fox Keller (1936-) 145
  • Florynce Kennedy (1916-) 150
  • Audre Lorde (1934-1992) 156
  • Catharine Mackinnon (1946-) 163
  • Olga Madar (1915-1996) 174
  • Wilma Mankiller (1945-) 181
  • Del Martin (1921-) 188
  • Kate Millett (1934- ) 194
  • CherrÍe Moraga (1952- ) 201
  • Robin Morgan (1941-) 206
  • Pauli Murray (1910-1985) 213
  • Eleanor Holmes Norton (1937-) 218
  • Alice Paul (1885-1977) 223
  • Anna Quindlen (1952-) 231
  • Adrienne Rich (1929-) 238
  • Faith Ringgold (1930-) 245
  • Rosemary Ruether (1936-) 251
  • Joanna Russ (1937-) 257
  • Patricia Schroeder (1940-) 264
  • Eleanor Smeal (1939-) 271
  • Barbara Smith (1946-) 279
  • Gloria Steinem (1934-) 283
  • Margo St. James (1937-) 290
  • Alice Walker (1944- ) 297
  • Rebecca Walker (1969-) 305
  • Michele Wallace (1952-) 311
  • Sarah Weddington (1945-) 317
  • Ellen Willis (1941-) 327
  • Selected Bibliography 335
  • Index 341
  • About the Editor and Contributors 355
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