BETTY FRIEDAN….Pepper is surprised that Betty Friedan’s death hasn’t gotten more attention, and I guess I am too. I suppose the reason is partly due to her temperamental personality and famously stormy battles with fellow feminists, which cuts way down on the number of people willing to pen loving eulogies in her memory; partly because later feminists became disenchanted with her stubborn unwillingness to embrace gender issues beyond the equality feminism she had pioneered (or, perhaps, resurrected); and partly just because she’s been out of the limelight for a long time and a lot of people today barely even know who she was.
Still, she changed the world. Things are pretty tough when that by itself isn’t enough to get you a boatload of attention when you die. In minor tribute, then, here’s an excerpt from The Feminine Mystique:
It is easy to see the concrete details that trap the suburban housewife, the continual demands on her time. But the chains that bind her in her trap are chains in her own mind and spirit. They are chains made up of mistaken ideas and misinterpreted facts, of incomplete truths and unreal choices. They are not easily seen and not easily shaken off.
How can any woman see the whole truth within the bounds of her own life? How can she believe that voice inside herself when it denies the conventional, accepted truths by which she has been living? And yet the women I have talked to, who are finally listening to that inner voice, seem in some incredible way to be groping through to a truth that has defied the experts.
If you haven’t read The Feminine Mystique, why not go ahead and do it now? It’s a very good book: witty, readable, and even quite funny in places. Plus it placed #7 on the Human Events list of the Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries, right below Das Kapital. What more can you ask for?