Betty Friedan - Feminism and Women
Betty Friedan (1921-2006)
American feminist (pictured right).
She launched the women’s liberation movement in 1963 with her book, The Feminine Mystique (the
first edition cover is pictured right below).
What did she say about women?
1. They have rights and responsibilities
- have responsibilities not only to their families but also to themselves.
- must have the freedom to maximize their potential and happiness
- have the right to birth control and abortion.
Friedan called women’s failure to enjoy this freedom the
- “the problem that has no name”.
She believed that this freedom (or liberation) will:
- make women better wives and mothers and
“No woman gets an orgasm from shining the kitchen floor”, Friedan said.
2. They need creative work
Women should work not only for the family but also outside the home, paid or unpaid.
Self-respect from doing something creative and worthwhile is much more
important than money.
“You know that you have brains as well as breasts, and you use them”, she told women.
3. They need understanding
Men must understand that women:
- are more than just sex objects (like the image created for movie star, Marilyn Monroe , pictured
- must find their own identity and fulfilment independent of their husbands and
Women will require encouragement to be independent because:
“It is easier to live through someone else than to become complete yourself”, Friedan
4. They need good men
- the victims of misunderstanding their life’s purpose (like women).
- capable of being better fathers and husbands (once they become more understanding and
supportive at home).
“Men will only be truly liberated to love women, and to be fully themselves, when women are liberated to have a
full say in the decisions of their lives and their society”, Friedan said.
5. They are “invisible”
Women are invisible, being absent from important jobs,
This must change and the first step is every woman asking herself:
Who am I and what do I want out of life?
6. They must balance work and family
The Feminine Mystique encouraged a huge increase in women’s employment, but this has made their
lives more difficult.
In 1987 Friedan said their main problem was:
“How to juggle work, love, home and children”.
Key quotes on women and
The feminine mystique has succeeded in burying millions of American women alive.
Men will only be truly liberated to love women, and to be fully themselves, when women are liberated.
It is easier to live through someone else than to become complete yourself.
Key quotes on women and
You know that you have brains as well as breasts, and you use them.
No woman gets an orgasm from shining the kitchen floor.