Betty Friedman Alyssa Diana Florida State University / Spring 09 Intro to Women’s Studies – Dry. Rachel Suit Piñata began to enjoy being a woman” a quote by Betty Friedman. Betty Friedman 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 Friedman has accomplished. Betty Friedman was born Betty 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 Horopito 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. Friedman once said that her feminism began “in her mother’s discontent” after being forced to quit her Job after she got married (Horopito, Friedman). After high school Betty Friedman went on to Smith College in 1938 to study Psychology.
In Betty Freidman’s novel Life so Far she tastes 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 sum scum lauded from Smith College in 1942. She then went on to graduate school at the University of California at Berkeley. Friedman only stayed at Berkeley for one year because “the intellectual quality of her graduate education compared to her undergraduate education” (Horopito). After leaving Berkeley Friedman went on to land a Job as a labor Journalist for the Federated Press in 1943.
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While at the Federated Press, Betty’s work was edited by en 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 striver to make advancements towards women’s contributions in her writings. During the period that she worked here World War II was going on and Friedman wrote a column entitled Wartime Living, and she tried to tie in many women’s issues (Horopito) In 1946, Betty began working a six year period writing for U News. The U News was a publication of the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America.
It as a “radical union in the forefront of the fight for social Justice for African American and women workers” (Horopito). Friedman 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, Freidman met her husband Carl Friedman in. Carl had Just come home from war when Friedman 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, Jonathan, 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 Friedman, she says in her novel Life so far, I wanted to be happy, fulfilled suburban housewife, and soon to be mother of three, 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 Friedman loved her family but the facade of a happy suburban housewife was not what her goal in life was. In 1957 Friedman went to her fifteenth Smith College reunion. She set up a questionnaire to give to her female former classmates. She had two fellow classmates help her with the questions, Marion Engineers Howell and Ann Matters Mentor. The questionnaire was going to be used to write a major magazine article entitled Modern Women: The Lost Sex. The questions were about Your Marriage’, Your Sex Life’, Your Children’, Your Home’, Your Finances’, ‘The Other Part of Your Life’,
Your Intellectual Life’, ‘ Your Political Life’, Your Religious Life’, Your Social Life’, and You, Personal’. (Friedman) She sent out the questionnaires and of the ones she sent out she received two hundred back. Friedman found that many of the women were happy but there was a great deal of dissatisfaction in their lives. Friedman wrote an article about her findings from the questionnaire. She sent it to publishing companies such as Mescal’s, Ladies Home Journal, and Redbook was she was denied each time. It was said to be seen as “.. An attack on women’s magazines” (Hennessey).
The refusals parked Friedman to take things into her own hands and write her own book about her findings. The novel became The Feminine Mystique. While writing The Feminine Mystique, Friedman stated that, “all the pieces of my own life came together for the first time”. The Feminine Mystique was a landmark book for feminism. This novel explored the “problem with no name”, which is the widespread of unhappiness among women. This widespread of unhappiness, this probably came from trying to be the so-called perfect housewife, and having no identity to call their own. The Feminine Mystique showcased many case studies of unhappy women throughout the
United States. Friedman examines many women’s magazines from before and after World War II. During the sass the magazines had articles that featured confident women who had careers and their own identity. Sadly after World War II from the 1940-ass were all about women being housewives, raising children, and being the perfect wife. The images of strong willed career women faded out, and quickly. Friedman coined this ideal of the perfect housewife of femininity the feminine mystique’. Betty recounts her own life and her decision to drop everything she wanted to do and be and become a suburban housewife.
She gives readers a feeling that she knows exactly what they are going through, since many women still face loosing their careers to raise a family today. In Life so Far, Friedman brings up how some feminist philosophers such as, Wholeheartedness, Fuller, and Stone were finally free to love and be loved, passionately, by men as equal human beings, but only after their battle against slavery and women’s rights had begun. Friedman uses the common examples of how many women drop out of college early to marry because they are afraid that if they wait too long or become too educated, they will not be able to attract a husband.
Many women do not find what they yearn for in life being a housewife. They cannot peruse the career of their choice nor do anything that they want to do because of this stigma placed upon women by society. Friedman talks the roles of wife and mother, and if they were not they were looked down upon. In spite of this stigma many first wave feminist fought for all the opportunities in which they were entitled to, such as, education, the right to vote, and the career of their choice. Friedman thinks that after gaining the right to vote that the women’s movement had died.
Women saw that they made a difference in one major aspect and thought that they were done. They were wrong because there were many more rights and sizes that women need to overcome. Since Freidman had gone to school for Psychology she derived some of her book from the works of Sigmund Freud. He tried to redefine humanity in sexual terms. One of his theories was that women had penis envy, which many of the opponents that were against the feminine mystique said was the underlying reason why housewives were unhappy.
Women had to put this in the back of their minds and rely on what they were going through on an individual axis. Friedman also talks functionalism and how they believe that society should be run in a hierarchy in order to run proficiently. In this society women are placed into roles by their sex. They are to be mothers and housewives so that the utopian social balance stays on track. The Feminine Mystique goes into the mind where women are formed to believe that they should be housewives. Friedman talks about how education in women’s schools gave women the sense of needing to be a housewife.
The classes focused on marriage, family, and other things that seemed ‘suitable’ for young women. Friedman says that this Just places women in an identity crisis and are emotionally unstable to deal with things that they may face as adults. These overbearing housewives may then go on to raise confused children who would grow up not knowing what their identity should be. She sees that becoming a housewife is an easy way out then becoming independent and working for yourself and what you believe in.
Friedman discusses the advertising aspect of feminism. She talks about how she met a man who exploits the dissatisfaction of housewives lives and channels them through advertising so that he can fulfill their desires’. The advertising wants to make women feel independent and intelligent but not too much because then they will get Jobs and might be too busy to buy and use their household products. Women are allowed to explore themselves and their surrounds but not to the point where they have their own identity, which is preposterous.
The housewives that Freidman interviewed admitted that they were unhappy with their lives. She explores the fact that these women extend their household chores so much that they don’t really have time to sit down and think about their unhappiness. If they complete all he household tasks then they might feel as if they aren’t needed anymore. The issue of sex is very prevalent in this novel. The wives become frustrated when their needs are not met; the husbands resent the neediness, and this all ends up to being affairs.
This type of sexual release isn’t right or fair to either spouse. The ‘problem with no name’ goes against human nature and need for humans to grow and become who they are. These housewives are trapped and forced to find their identity only through their sexual roles. Friedman states that women, Just as men need meaningful lives with things to do other than clean the house all day. She thinks women need a new life plan. Women should not view housework as a career. Women need to find fulfillment in other things in life other than Just housework and their children.
She that this is possible and that they shouldn’t be afraid to be who they are. Friedman has always been a strong supporter of education so she absolutely advocates that women get a higher education and she includes suggestions as well. After publishing The Feminine Mystique Freidman went on to get her PH. D in Psychology and step out of her own feminine mystique as she had told millions of women to. In 1966 she helped mound the first major organization established since the sass devoted to women’s rights, the National Organization for Women (NOW), and became its first president.
The purpose of NOW is to take action to bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American society now, exercising all the privileges and responsibilities thereof in truly equal partnership with men. NOW covers all issues related to women and equality. According to Friedman, in her novel It Changed My Life she states that all women can achieve such equality only by accepting to the full the challenges and susceptibilities they share with all other people in our society, as part of the decision making mainstream of American political, economic and social life.
In the sass, Friedman helped to found other women’s organizations, including the National Women’s Political Caucus (1971), which encouraged women to run for political office. Betty felt that there was a need for women’s liberation to be transcended into political power. She tried to take away the stigma that all women who want to run for office are pushy and unfeminine. She paved the way for women’s issues to be presented openly and more often. Women’s issues such as, child care centers, abortion rights, equal opportunities in Jobs and education, and new approaches to marriage and divorce. Friedman 1963) I knew somewhat about Betty Friedman’s life and she was inspirational to me. After completing this research paper and reading her novels she lighted a light in me. She was such a strong, ambitious, and courageous woman and should be an inspiration to all women. She made great strides to personally impact women on an individual level. Reading the Feminine Mystique made me realize and see ads more. All the toy ads for young girls are all about asking and cleaning. The ads for boys feature construction sets and science sets.
These stigmas have always been around but when you see them in an oppressive light you really understand them. Young girls grow up with feels the need to support a family and cook and clean. Boys grow up feeling that they can achieve and do whatever they want in life. Betty Friedman is an amazing feminist pioneer and I’m glad that her work lives on and that the plight of feminism isn’t dead. From being an author numerous times to setting up an organization that is still going strong today, Betty Friedman is a remarkable human being.