Courtesy of Library of Congress

Betty Friedan 1921-2006

Betty Friedan was an American writer, activist and feminist best remembered for starting the "second wave" of the Women's Movement in the United States. Bettye Naomi Goldstein grew up in Peoria, Illinois where her immigrant father owned a jewelry store and her mother gave up her position as editor of the women's page of the local paper to raise her family. Friedan attended Smith College, majoring in psychology and editing the college newspaper. Under her stewardship, the paper became a forum for the fight against fascism abroad and in favor of union organizing at home. In 1957, Friedan began a series of studies of her female peers that resulted in her most influential book, The Feminine Mystique (1963). She argued that women were victims of "the problem that has no name" that forced them into marriage and motherhood, falsely promising a fulfilling and meaningful life. The book was an immediate best seller but also roused considerable controversy. Friedan went on to co-found the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966 and the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws in 1968, now known as NARAL Pro-Choice America. Friedan served as a founding member of the National Women's Political Caucus in 1971.