Betty Friedan (1921 - 2006)

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Betty Naomi (Goldstein) Friedan
1921 - 2006
February 2, 1921
February 4, 2006
District Of Columbia United States
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Betty Naomi Friedan (Goldstein)
Betty Friedan was born on February 2, 1921. Her maiden name is Goldstein and she married into the Friedan family. She died on February 4, 2006 in District Of Columbia at 85 years of age.
Updated: June 15, 2020
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Betty Friedan
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Betty Naomi (Goldstein) Friedan
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Betty Naomi (Goldstein) Friedan
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Smith College. A bright student, Friedan excelled at Smith College, graduating in 1942 with a bachelor's degree in psychology. Although she received a fellowship to study at the University of California, Berkeley, she only spent a brief time there before relocating in the mid-1940s to New York City. In New York, Friedan worked for a short time as a reporter. In 1947, she married Carl Friedan. The couple went on to have three children: Daniel, who was born in 1948; Jonathan, born in 1952; and Emily, born in 1956.


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BETTY FRIEDAN, Author and Journalist. NAME Betty Naomi Goldstein Friedan OCCUPATION Journalist BIRTH DATE February 4, 1921 DEATH DATE February 4, 2006 EDUCATION Smith College, University of California, Berkeley PLACE OF BIRTH Peoria, Illinois PLACE OF DEATH Washington, D.C. ORIGINALLY Bettye Naomi Goldstein WHO WAS BETTY FRIEDAN? 'THE FEMININE MYSTIQUE' CO-FOUNDING NOW, NARAL AND THE NATIONAL WOMEN'S POLITICAL CAUCUS LATER WORKS AND DEATH QUOTES 1 of 2 “It is better for a woman to compete impersonally in society, as men do, than to compete for dominance in her own home with her husband, compete with her neighbors for empty status, and so smother her son that he cannot compete at all.” —Betty Friedan Betty Friedan Biography Journalist (1921–2006) UPDATED:JUL 9, 2019ORIGINAL:FEB 28, 2018 Writer, feminist and women's rights activist Betty Friedan wrote The Feminine Mystique (1963) and co-founded the National Organization for Women. Who Was Betty Friedan? Betty Friedan was born on February 4, 1921, in Peoria, Illinois. In 1963, she published The Feminine Mystique, which explores the idea of women finding fulfillment beyond traditional roles. Friedan co-founded the National Organization for Women in 1966, and served as its first president. She published The Second Stage in 1982 and The Fountain of Age in 1993. She died on February 4, 2006, in Washington, D.C. 'The Feminine Mystique' After the Friedans' first child, Daniel, was born in 1948, Betty Friedan returned to work. She lost her job, however, after she became pregnant with her second child, Jonathan. Friedan then stayed home to care for her family, but she was restless as a homemaker and began to wonder if other women felt the same way she did — that she was both willing and able to be more than a stay-at-home mom. To answer this question, Friedan surveyed other graduates of Smith College. The results of her research formed the basis of her book The Feminine Mystique, published in 1963, throughout which Friedan encourages women to seek new opportunities for themselves. The book quickly became a sensation, creating a social revolution by dispelling the myth that all women wanted to be happy homemakers, and marking the start of what would become Friedan's incredibly significant role in the women's rights movement. The work is also credited with spurring second-wave feminism in the United States. Other Betty Friedan Books Besides The Feminine Mystique (1963), Friedan authored It Changed My Life: Writings on the Women's Movement (1976), The Second Stage (1982), The Fountain of Age (1993), Beyond Gender (1997), and her autobiography Life So Far (2000). Co-Founding NOW, NARAL and the National Women's Political Caucus Friedan did more than write about confining gender stereotypes — she became a force for change. Pushing for women to have a greater role in the political process, she co-founded the National Organization for Women in 1966, subsequently serving as its first president. She also fought for abortion rights by establishing the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (now known as NARAL Pro-Choice America) in 1969. Additionally, with other leading feminists such as Gloria Steinem and Bella Abzug, Friedan helped create the National Women's Political Caucus in 1971. Early Life and Career Writer, feminist and women's rights activist Betty Friedan was born Bettye Naomi Goldstein on February 4, 1921, in Peoria, Illinois. With her book The Feminine Mystique (1963), Friedan broke new ground by exploring the idea of women finding personal fulfillment outside of their traditional roles. She also helped advance the women's rights movement as one of the founders of the National Organization for Women. A bright student, Friedan excelled at Smith College, graduating in 1942 with a bachelor's degree in psychology. Although she received a fellowship to study at the University of California, Berkeley, she only spent a brief time there before relocating in the mid-1940s to New York City. In New York, Friedan worked for a short time as a reporter. In 1947, she married Carl Friedan. The couple went on to have three children: Daniel, who was born in 1948; Jonathan, born in 1952; and Emily, born in 1956. Later Works and Death Seeking to help women wrestle with the demands of work both inside and outside of the home, Friedan published The Second Stage (1982), in which she presents a more moderate feminist position from her earlier work. Friedan later explored the later stages of a woman's life in The Fountain of Age, which was published in 1993, when she was in her 70s. Betty Friedan died of heart failure on February 4, 2006, in Washington, D.C. Today, Friedan is remembered as one of the leading voices of the women's rights movement of the 20th century. Furthermore, the work that she started is still being carried by the three organizations she helped to establish.

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NEW YORK — Betty Friedan, the feminist crusader and author whose searing first book, "The Feminine Mystique," ignited the contemporary American women's movement in 1963, permanently transforming the social fabric of the United States and countries around the world, died Saturday on her 85th birthday at her home in Washington. The cause was congestive heart failure, said Emily Bazelon, a family spokeswoman. With its impassioned, yet clear-eyed, analysis of the issues that affected American women's lives in the decades after World War II - including enforced domesticity, limited career prospects and, as chronicled in later editions, the campaign for legalized abortion - "The Feminine Mystique" is widely regarded as one of the most influential nonfiction books of the 20th century. Published by W.W. Norton, the book had sold more than three million copies by 2000 and has been translated into many foreign languages. For decades a familiar presence on television and the lecture circuit, Friedan, with her short stature, round figure, protuberant nose and deeply hooded eyes, looked for much of her adult life like a "combination of Hermione Gingold and Bette Davis," both movie stars, Judy Klemesrud wrote in The New York Times Magazine in 1970. "The Feminine Mystique" made Friedan world-famous. It also made her one of the chief architects of the American women's liberation movement of the late 1960s and afterward, a sweeping social upheaval that harked back to the suffrage campaigns of the turn of the century and would be called the second wave of feminism. In 1966, Friedan helped found the National Organization for Women, serving as its first president. In 1969, she was a founder of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, now known as Naral Pro-Choice America. With Gloria Steinem and Bella Abzug, she founded the Women's Political Caucus in 1971. Though in later years, some feminists dismissed Friedan's work as outmoded, a great many aspects of modern American life that seem routine today - from unisex Help Wanted ads to women in politics, medicine, the clergy and the military - are the direct result of the hard-won advances she helped women attain. A brilliant student who graduated summa cum laude from Smith College, Friedan trained as a psychologist but never pursued a career in the field. When she wrote "The Feminine Mystique," she was a suburban housewife and mother who supplemented her husband's income by writing freelance articles for women's magazines. Though Friedan was not generally considered a lyrical stylist, "The Feminine Mystique" is as mesmerizing today as it was more than four decades ago. "Gradually, without seeing it clearly for quite a while, I came to realize that something is very wrong with the way American women are trying to lives their lives today," Friedan wrote in the opening line of the preface. "I sensed it first as a question mark in my own life, as a wife and mother of three small children, half-guiltily, and therefore halfheartedly, almost in spite of myself, using my abilities and education in work that took me away from home." The words have the hypnotic pull of a fairy tale, and for the next 400 pages, Friedan identifies, dissects and damningly indicts one of the most pervasive folk beliefs of postwar American life: the myth of suburban women's domestic fulfillment she came to call the feminine mystique. Drawing on history, psychology, sociology and economics, as well as on interviews with women across the country, Friedan charted the gradual metamorphosis of the American woman from the independent, career-minded New Woman of the 1920s and '30s into the vacant, apron-ed housewife of the postwar years. "The Feminine Mystique" began as a survey Friedan conducted in 1957 for the 15th reunion of her graduating class at Smith. It was intended to refute a prevailing postwar myth: that higher education kept women from adapting to their roles as wives and mothers. Judging from her own capable life, Friedan expected her classmates to describe theirs as similarly well adjusted. But what she discovered in the women's responses was something far more complex, and more troubling - a "nameless, aching dissatisfaction" that she would famously call "the problem that has no name." When Friedan sent the same questionnaire to graduates of Radcliffe and other women's colleges, and later interviewed scores of women personally, the results were the same. Their answers gave her the seeds of her book. They also forced her to confront the painful limitations of her own suburban idyll. Bettye Naomi Goldstein was born on Feb. 4, 1921, in Peoria, Illinois. Her father, Harry, was an immigrant from Russia who parlayed a street-corner collar-button business into a prosperous downtown jewelry store. Her gifted, imperious mother, Miriam, had been the editor of the women's page of the local newspaper before giving up her job for marriage and children. Betty received her bachelor's degree in 1942 - by that time she had dropped the final "e," which she considered an affectation of her mother's - and accepted a fellowship to the University of California, Berkeley, for graduate work in psychology. At Berkeley, she studied with a renowned psychologist, Erik Erikson, among others. She won a second fellowship, even more prestigious than the first, that would allow her to continue for doctorate. But she was dating a young physicist who felt threatened by her success. He pressured her to turn down the fellowship, and she did, an experience she would later recount frequently in interviews. She also turned down the physicist, returning home to Peoria before moving to Greenwich Village in New York. There, Friedan worked as an editor and reporter.In 1947, she married Carl Friedan, a theater director who later became an advertising executive. They started a family and moved to a rambling Victorian house in suburban Rockland County, New York.

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In 1921, in the year that Betty Friedan was born, the silent film The Sheik, directed by George Melford and starring Rudolph Valentino and Agnes Ayres (also featuring Adolphe Menjou) debuted on October 21st. Critics weren't enthusiastic but the public loved it - in the first few weeks 125,000 people had seen the movie - and it eventually exceeded $1 million in ticket sales. And Rudolph Valentino, an Italian American, became the heartthrob of a female generation.

In 1942, at the age of 21 years old, Betty was alive when on November 28th at 10:15p, a nightclub in Boston, the Cocoanut Grove, caught fire. The origins of the fire are unknown but it killed 492 people - the deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. history. Hundreds more were injured. The disaster was so shocking that it replaced World War II in the headlines and lead to reforms in safety standards and codes.

In 1955, by the time she was 34 years old, on September 10th the TV show "Gunsmoke" debuted on CBS. It went on to be television's longest-running western. Matt Dillon, Chester, Doc Adams, and Miss Kitty became household names.

In 1965, by the time she was 44 years old, from August 11 to 16, riots broke out in Watts, a Black section of Los Angeles. An allegedly drunk African-American driver was stopped by LA police and, after a fight, police brutality was alleged - and the riots began. 34 people died in the rioting and over $40 million in property damage occurred. The National Guard was called in to help the LA police quell rioting.

In 1971, she was 50 years old when on May 3rd, 10,000 federal troops, 5,100 officers of the D.C. Metropolitan Police, 2,000 members of the D.C. National Guard, and federal agents assembled in Washington DC to prevent an estimated 10,000 Vietnam War protesters from marching. President Nixon (who was in California) refused to give federal employees the day off and they had to navigate the police and protesters, adding to the confusion. By the end of a few days of protest, 12,614 people had been arrested - making it the largest mass arrest in US history.

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