Florida State University / Spring 09
Intro to Women’s Studies – Dr. Rachel Sutz Pienta
“When she stopped conforming to the conventional picture of femininity she finally began to enjoy being a woman” a quote by Betty Friedan. Betty Friedan is one of the most influential feminist pioneers of our lifetime. In this paper I will be discussing her life, her famous novel the Feminine Mystique, and other works Betty Friedan has accomplished. Betty Friedan was born Bettye Naomi Goldstein on February 4, 1921 in Peoria, Illinois. Her father, Harry Goldstein, emigrated from a town near Kiev and ran a jewelry store. Her mother, Miriam Horowitz Goldstein, was the daughter of immigrants from Hungary and she was a writer for the society pages of the Peoria newspaper. Shortly after her parents got married her father made her mother quit her job. After being forced to quit her mother urged Betty to pursue a career in journalism, possibly to live vicariously through her. Friedan once said that her feminism began “in her mother’s discontent” after being forced to quit her job after she got married (Horowitz, Friedan).
After high school Betty Friedan went on to Smith College in 1938 to study Psychology. In Betty Freidan’s novel Life so Far she states that she didn’t really want to go to Smith, she wanted to go to Chicago. She went on to become the news editor of the Smith newspaper. Betty went on to graduate summa cum laude from Smith College in 1942. She then went on to graduate school at the University of California at Berkley. Friedan only stayed at Berkley for one year because “the intellectual quality of her graduate education compared to her undergraduate education” (Horowitz).
After leaving Berkley Friedan went on to land a job as a labor journalist for the Federated Press in 1943. While at the Federated Press, Betty’s work was edited by men with seniority who she had never even met. She was used to being edited by people she knew and it didn’t matter what gender they were. As a feminist she strived to make advancements towards women’s contributions in her writings. During the period that she worked here World War II was going on and Friedan wrote a column entitled Wartime Living, and she tried to tie in many women’s issues (Horowitz)
In 1946, Betty began working a six year period writing for UE News. The UE News was a publication of the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America. It was a “radical union in the forefront of the fight for social justice for African American and women workers” (Horowitz). Friedan showed how devoted she was to women’s rights when not many saw that it was a big issue, it was always an issue for her. While in New York, Freidan met her husband Carl Friedan in. Carl had just come home from war when Friedan met him. She recounts in Life so Far, “he bought me an apple and told me jokes which made me laugh, and he moved in”. On June 12, 1947 they were married in Boston, Massachusetts. Betty and Carl had three children together, Daniel, Jonathon, and Emily. Even though Betty married Carl she did not change her name in her articles until 1952. The pressures of raising a family and keeping a household were starting to impact Friedan, she says in her novel Life so far, I wanted to be happy, fulfilled suburban housewife, and soon to be mother of three, But I remember, in those first months in Rockland County, going on a hike as a family on some church group’s Sunday mountain outing, and again, at a supermarket mall parking lot, a sudden inexplicable, terrifying panic attack. It was worse than asthma. Betty was ready to start this new phase of her life but she didn’t know if she was mentally prepared for it all and it frightened her. There was no doubt that Friedan loved her family but the facade of a happy suburban housewife was not what her goal in life was. In...
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