The late Betty Friedan: feminism did play in Peoria...

Betty Friedan, the author of one of the seminal feminist works of the twentieth century, The Feminine Mystique, has died. She was 85 years old. Born and raised in Peoria, Illinois, Friedan grew up in a home where her father was a jeweler and her mother had given up a gig as a newspaper journalist to become a housewife. Friedan reported that her mother was conflicted about this change and took it out on her husband:

(My mother) cut down my father because she had no place to channel her terrific energies, a typical female disorder that I call impotent rage...

Friedan went on to Smith College where she did quite well, then married and had two children. At work, when she asked for maternity leave to bear her second child, she was fired. A few years later, she wrote The Feminine Mystique.

Later in life, Friedan lamented the fixation on lesbianism which was endemic to the more radical side of the feminist movement, saying:

I wrote a whole book objecting to the definition of women only in sexual relation to men. I would not exchange that for a definition of women only in sexual relation to women...

Friedan defended the family from feminist attacks and was obviously sympathetic to men, as well as to women who loved men as their sons, fathers, and husbands. At times, this angered her sisters-in-arms.

On the negative side, she helped found the National Abortion Rights Action League, the organization largely responsible for creating a climate in these United States in which the Supreme Court could legalize mothers paying doctors to kill their unborn children. Friedan also was the founding president of the National Organization of Women.

Quite endearingly, Friedan recently said, "...women as a special separate interest group are not my concern any more.'' We hope her concern turned to Her Maker and the righteousness of His Son, Jesus Christ.

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Interesting essay on Freidan. I, too, just blogged about her but with a little different twist. Being from the Peoria area myself, the local take on her is as heroine extraordinaire, as discussed in the many articles both before and after her death in our local newspaper. Her own words about homemakers, though, in my opinion, were the greatest indictment against her...

"Housewives are mindless and thing-hungry... ; They are trapped in trivial domestic routine and meaningless busywork within a community that does not challenge their intelligence. Housework is peculiarly suited to the capabilities of feeble-minded girls; it can hardly use the abilities of a woman of average or normal human intelligence."

Of course, her pro-abortion activism is even worse but that goes unsaid.

Much is usually made of her being a housewife. But she was apparently active early in Stalinist circles in her college days and beyond. Not quite your typical housewife. Speaking generically, fellow travellers were not the Betty Crockers that Hollywood makes them out to be.

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