Hi everybody, I'm Edie Berg. Thank you so much for joining me here today and this is a quick podcast about a strong Jewish woman in history.
Voice 1: Well, now, what is a feminist?
Betty Friedan: Feminist? Well, we all have our definition about it, and I say feminism is pluralism, too, that it takes a different form in a different time in different situations. But my definition of feminism is that it is the movement of women to full equality, to true equality, to have their own voice and their own participation in the mainstream of society and it is an explication and an affirmation of values that come from female experience in every discipline and every profession and every part of society, an affirmation of the principles and values that have so far been limited to female experience by men.
EB: That was Betty Friedan, a strong Jewish woman who is credited with sparking the beginning of the second wave of feminism in the United States. She wrote many books, the first being "The Feminine Mystique." Betty had surveyed her former college classmates for their 15th-year reunion. And after talking to them, she realized that many of these women, even though they had very comfortable conditions, they lived in nice homes and everything, were unhappy as housewives. And she discovered that most of these women wanted more in their lives than taking care of their husbands and their children in their homes. "The Feminine Mystique," that thing, that title, means it was the illusion made by media that showed that women were happy as housewives, or unhappy in their careers as working women. Betty Friedan, in fact, had to experience that same dissatisfaction in her own life. Here's Betty talking about true equality:
BF: True equality, we already have a sense of a more complex definition. And we're not even yet that close to simple economic equality in the job place as well because women are still in this country only 62 cents on the dollar...
EB: In the book, she discusses how the first wave of feminism fought and secured really important women's rights such as education and the right to vote. Betty Friedan is credited with sparking the beginning of the second wave of feminism in the US. In 1966, Betty Friedan cofounded and was elected as the first president of the National Organization for Women, or NOW. The main goal of NOW was to bring women into the mainstream of American society in full, equal partnership with men. Pretty simple. She called for the drastic rethinking of what it means to be feminine. And that is the main idea behind the book and the concept of feminine mystique.
In 1970, Betty Friedan organized the Women's Strike for Equality, which was a huge success, a big march which was a forerunner of the big women's march that we just had in the beginning of 2017. Betty was a very strong supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment to the constitution, which of course passed congress by a huge landslide.
There's a quote from Betty's memoir, in Life So Far, where she says, "The truth is, that I've always been a bad-tempered bitch. But some people say that I have mellowed some. I don't know." When Betty was asked if she thought she would see, in her lifetime, true equality between the genders, this was her answer:
BF: And I think that in our lifetime, we might see it, but that means that the young women that are saying "I'm not a feminist, but..." have got to start saying "I am a feminist, AND..."
EB: A quote from The Feminine Mystique, is the only way for a woman, as for a man, to find herself, to know herself as a person, is by creative work of her own.
Most of the information for today's episode was taken from an interview from the Public Affairs Roundtable way back in 1985, plus from Wikipedia of Betty Friedan and the Feminine Mystique, and from the Jewish Women's Archive as usual.
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