Betty Naomi Friedan Second Wave Activist Cultural Studies Essay

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Betty Friedan was born on February 4, 1921, in Peoria, Illinois. Her birth name was Betty Naomi Goldstein, which would later change because of martial status. Betty Friedan was the daughter of Jewish parents. Her father was a jeweler and her mother worked at a newspaper, which she had to leave when she married Mr. Goldstein. Betty's mother wanted Betty to pursue a career in journalism, for the reason that she wanted her daughter to pursue something she wasn't able to achieve when she was younger. As the years passed and Betty went to school she discovered that she indeed had the same writing potential her mother had, and was very much interested in writing. Just as her mother, Betty did some work as a journalist.

It was in 1942 when Betty Freidan graduated from Smith College with a Bachelor's. Betty as a graduate student received a research fellowship to study psychology at the University of California Berkeley. After obtaining a Master's degree there, she moved to New York, where she worked as a reporter. It was there where she met Carl Friedan, and married him in the year 1947. Carl and Betty had three children. When Betty had her first child she immediately returned to work, but then lost the job when she got pregnant the second time. It was two years later in 1949, when Betty adhered to society's expectations and became a housewife. Betty was very unhappy in her life as a housewife, it was then when she began to wonder whether other women felt the same way.

After realizing her deep curiosity of dissatisfied housewives Betty came up with a spectacular idea. It was in 1947 when she decided to put together a questionnaire that she would send to her colleagues at Smith College fifteen years after having graduated. The results where just what Betty expected. She realized that every woman out of the 200 that responded felt a great deal of dissatisfaction with their societal housewife expectation. Every women that responded to the questionnaire responded that they had to deal with the frustration of not being able to pursue something that was important to them. Instead they were becoming to settle with the idea of becoming a simple mother and a simple housewife, satisfying the expectations held by men dominated societies. The responses of those women inspired Ms. Freidan to write a book about the unhappiness of housewives. It was in 1963, when Betty published her first book entitled The Feminine Mystique.

Three years later in 1966 Betty Freidan became the co founder of the National Organization for Women, which is also known as NOW. Betty became the first president of NOW for about four years. Under her presidency NOW worked for political reforms to secure women's legal equality. During this time she also helped to obtain many gains for women. NOW also lobbied for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment also known as ERA, which had remained dormant since it was first introduced in congress by Alice Paul in 1923( NOW did many other things, which benefited not only women but the rest of the societies as well. NOW proposed that there should be day care centers, parks, and public school that where all federally funded. It was in 1969 when Friedan along with NOW became the founders of the National Abortion Rights Action League. Friedan along with other women fought to legalize abortions. It was until 1973, when the Supreme Court agreed to legalize abortions. According to Betty Freidan statistics showed that the legalization of abortions helped decrease the deaths of women resulting from abortions by 60 percent.

Betty Friedan helped NOW obtain many rights for women, and helped other women stand up for what they believed was right. Betty Freidan and NOW rebelled against President's Nixon nomination of G. Harold Carswell to the Supreme Court, because Mr. Carswell favored the right of employers to deny jobs to women with children. It was then when Betty along with NOW performed a march which was held on August 26, 1970; on the 50th anniversary of the day women obtained the right to vote. Betty along with over 10,000 other women commemorated the day while marching down Fifth Ave. in New York City. That same year Freidan helped found other women's organizations, among those was the National Women's Political Caucus, which helped encourage women to run for political office.

It was a couple of years later that Betty Friedan decided to step down from central leaderships, and dedicate her life to writing, and teaching others. Ms. Friedan taught at different universities among those were; Temple University, Yale University, Queens College, and the New School for Social Research.

In the years that Betty was teaching in different Universities, she was still active towards the leading voices of other women. Betty took action once again in the year 1974, when she held an audience with Pope Paul VI in which she proposed the catholic church to "come to terms with the full personhood of women" ( Meaning that she wanted the Catholic Church to view the real purpose of what a women was meant for in a man's life rather than just being viewed as his accompanist.

Two years later, in 1976 Betty published another book related to her collection of writing from 1960 through 1970. The book was titled It Changed My Life: Writings on the Women's Movement. The book also contained information about Friedan's personal experiences as a feminist, and the actions she took in every role she played. A year later she participated in the National Conference of Women in Houston, Texas, at this conference Ms. Friedan called out to other women and younger generations to stand up for their women rights.

In 1981 Betty wrote a book about how men and women need to brake away from the constant stereotypical sex-role that suggests what role each person should take. Betty suggests that, that way of thinking was from the past and needs to be left behind. She also talks about the family needs that serve from both a male and female role. Nearly a decade later Betty decided to write another book The Fountain Stage. In that book she mainly directed to older women who where becoming very unhappy with their bodies and forced themselves to fit into the stereotypical creation of anti-aging. In the book Friedan talks about how the later stages evolve through time and how women gradually become themselves again. She suggests that women should not feel embarrassed of getting wrinkles and having crows-feet. She focused on making women realize that the body ages, and that there is nothing wrong with aging reflections. The main purpose of The Fountain Stage was to help elderly women age comfortable and accept the changes their bodies are making.

Betty died on February 4th, 2006 due to a heart attack. She died in Washington, D.C. exactly on her 85th birthday. Betty will forever be remembered because of the large amount of gains she earned for women. She will be commemorated as one of the best twentieth century women's rights activist. Her writings and actions will serve to future generations and serve as inspiration to the younger women in our societies. Even though we lost a great activist we didn't loose the organizations she co-founded. Those organizations are still carrying along the work Betty Freidan once started and that thanks to her the support to women all over the world will never end.