Betty Friedan

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Betty Friedan – The Mother of Feminism

Betty Friedan was born as Bettye Goldstein. She was born in Peoria, Illinois on February 4, 1921. Harry Goldstein, her father, emigrated from Russia in the 1880s in which he built himself a successful jewelry business in the United States (Parry, 2010). Miriam Horwitz, his wife and her mother, was the daughter of Hungarian Jewish immigrants, who actually was unable to attend Smith College due to her parents’ refusal (Parry, 2010). At the fact that her mother was not able to complete her dream of school and education, her mother would continually push for her to do well in her academics because she knew the potential her daughter had. However, even though she saw her potential, she knew that her daughter’s Jewish upbringing would be her hindrance, but she continued for her to strive on and was not ready to give up and surrender to how things were. Therefore, Betty’s rebuttal was always there from the beginning. Her Jewish upbringing caused Betty to experience many blunders along her way. In her high school located in Peoria, Illinois, Jews were not welcome in sororities or fraternities, which had truly played a detrimental effect on her because they played a big role at her school (Selle, 1998). Even though her academic successes were stellar, she was continually shunned upon due to her ethnicity and background. Not only was Betty a spectacular student, but also she was also a writer, poet, and the founder of a literary (Selle, 1998). But do not think her struggles with her social life in school got to her because she was Jewish and let her focus slip. She put her focus and concentration on her schoolwork and education that much harder because she knew socially she was not accepted, so she did the one thing she knew no one could take away from her. After graduating from high school, she attended Smith College, a dream of her mother’s since her mother was unable to attend it herself, where she proudly graduated first in her class in 1942, and where she also was in charge of editing the college newspaper (Perry, 2010; Selle, 1998). Following her dreams and completion of undergraduate school, she transferred to the University of California at Berkeley to finish her graduate work in which she did a fellowship in psychology (Selle, 1998). From 1944, she worked as a journalist in Manhattan, where she wrote for the Federal Press and the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America under the name Betty Goldstein (Parry, 2010). After she graduated from University of California at Berkeley, she moved to Greenwich Village in 1947 and married Carl Friedan, who was a World War II veteran (Parry, 2010). This is when she took on the name Betty Friedan, which is the one she grew famous for. However, her name is not at all what got her the fame, rather her radical and far-reaching feminist actions soared her to becoming the mother of feminism (Bazelon, 2006). Betty Friedan and her husband had three children – Daniel, Jonathan, and Emily, but later divorced in 1969 (Bazelon, 2006; Parry, 2010). It was actually her children that further triggered her feminism motives. Her first child not so much, but her second child propelled her to being the Betty Friedan we honor today. Prior to this, her focus on women’s issues were slim to none as it was for many women of her time, not because they did not want change, but rather because they grew up not knowing their could be much change. Betty was your classical suburban housewife at this time; she lived in a house in Grandview-on-the-Hudson, New York, where she cooked meals for the theatre-producers husband and did some interior decorating from time to time. In the technical sense, she did not work. She was living her life and being a mother was her main focus, even though she did have a college education (The Economist, 2006). At this point, it was a male dominated society, where women were told that they should be content if they are a mother...
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