Betty Frieden was one of the leading influences (arguably the starting one) in women's rights. She argued for gender equality everywhere— from the workplace to the home—and argued against conventional norms expected of a wife. This woman meant business in her fight for women... as long as you were white and middle class. Was Betty wise for taking baby steps before pushing for total reform, or was she prejudiced against minorities?
|Modern America: 1950-Present||1960s|
Sounds like paradise...right?
Betty Friedan didn't think so either.
So she wrote this little book called The Feminine Mystique, which became an instant sensation.
Friedan encouraged women to go after their own professional dreams.
Even wilder, she said that some women could be fulfilled without having a husband or kids.
Really radical stuff.
But you have to remember that it was a different time.
There was no Oprah.
No Hilary Clinton.
No Miss Piggy.
Women were not supposed to have any power.
As James Brown put it,
"This is a Man's World."
Betty's book was a home run.
Three million copies flew off the shelves,..
...and many women realized they were not alone in their dissatisfaction with life.
...Friedan founded NOW, The National Organization for Women...
...which fought for gender equality in the workplace.
By enforcing the 1964 Civil Rights Act, employment discrimination based on gender was made illegal...
It also prohibited the firing of women based on age or marriage.
In many ways, Friedan and NOW gave birth -- if you'll pardon the expression - to the modern
women's rights movement. But not all women were free to join the party.
Friedan focused on middle class white women.
She largely overlooked lesbians, the poor, and non-whites.
So was there enough "ka-pow" in Betty Friedan's NOW?
Should she have embraced all women in her championing of women's rights?
Or did she have to begin her quest for gender equality by taking baby steps,
in order to achieve success?
Shmoop amongst yourselves.