Betty Friedan

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Betty Friedan was one of the most influential women in the history of the Feminist Movement. She took it upon herself to excel the rights of women, and gain their respect not only amongst males, but in the work field as well. With the help of her supporters, Betty Friedan’s hard work and hope helped her cause gain momentum. She was an ideal political catalyst for the cause, and not only spoke about and brought recognition to the issue of women’s rights, but made a change.

Betty Friedan’s desire for change started at a young age. Growing up as a Jewish girl, she had a lot of early anti-Semitism experiences. Being a Jew further “alienated” her from society, and kept her from engaging in activities that even a majority of women could do. Sororities formed once she was in high school, and being a Jewish girl meant that she could not join them. Another problem she had was her restrictions against joining the Peoria Country Club for the same reasons. These occurrences added to her desire to improve society and women’s acceptance in it. As a young woman, she looked up to her mother and treated her with a great deal of respect. She knew that her mother was unhappy as a typical housewife, much like most women during that time. “I was so aware of the crime, the shame that there was no use of my mother’s abilities and energy.” (PBS). Seeing her mother suffer through out her childhood added to her desire to bring about a change. “I understood somehow my mother's frustration. And that it was no good not only for her, but for her children or her husband, that she did not have a real use of her ability.” (PBS).

Through out Betty Friedan’s college experience, the ignorance and lack of interest that women had in their own rights were brought to her attention more and more. No longer did women ask what girls wanted to be when they got older; they would say things like "Oh, you're a pretty little girl; you'll be a mommy like mommy..." (PBS). Betty had thoroughly convinced herself that she would not become a housewife or a mother. She somehow understood her mother’s frustration, and knew that it was not something she would want to go through herself. Though she completed her college education at Smith College, Friedan was still uneasy. She handed out a questionnaire at her 15th year college reunion regarding how other women felt towards their roles in society, and their “duties” as women. The result surprised her. Majority of the women in her graduating class felt the same as she did. (“Encycl. Of American History” 115). “It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning that women suffered in the middle of the twentieth century in the United States.” (HNET).

It seemed as if nothing good would result from their empty desires, though. During the Depression, women in the working field became a necessity, though their roles were nothing to brag about. Completing simple tasks such as spinning were the jobs that women were supposed to take on to feel as though they were a part of the community. Professional jobs had to be picked carefully, even with the education she received. For example, women who became teachers were not allowed to get married, and those who were previously teachers, never did get married. Betty never had a real, professionally-working role model. The only woman she knew of with a well-paying job was a lawyer in town, who was ostracized and teased for taking on a role she was not “meant” or destined to have (PBS). Friedan decided she did not want to be an academic anymore, because it was too easy for her; it did not bring about enough of a challenge. Eventually, Friedan got married and was sucked into the housewife stereotype that her mother had once been a part of. She became equally as unhappy as her mother was. She experienced what she called “the problem that has no name.” ("Encycl. of American History" 115). “Each sububan wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds,...
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