Girl History – Happy Birthday Betty Friedan

Betty Friedan was born and died on the same day, today, February 4th.

More than a decade ago I spent a week at Rancho La Puerta, a spa in Tecate, Baja California, the same time she did.

It was a memorable experience. She was original, outrageous, and walked around with her spa robe wide open.

Living life out loud!

Betty Friedan

Reprinted from the Writers Almanac

It’s the birthday of Betty Friedan (books by this author), born in Peoria, Illinois (1921). She’s the author of The Feminine Mystique (1963), a book that The New York Times described as being “one of the most influential nonfiction books of the 20th century.” Friedan wrote about what she called “the problem that has no name,” found particularly among educated suburban women in the years after the end of World War II, women who were leading ostensibly idyllic domestic lives as busy housewives and mothers and yet who felt inexplicably unfulfilled, unhappy, and restless.

She wrote:

“The problem lay buried, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American women. It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning that women suffered in the middle of the twentieth century in the United States. Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night — she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question — ‘Is this all?'”

Friedan once led tens of thousands of women — and quite a few men — down New York’s Fifth Avenue and over to the New York Public Library in a strike for women’s equality. She held signs that said things like “Don’t Cook Dinner — Starve a Rat Tonight!” and “Don’t Iron While the Strike Is Hot.”

She went on to write several more books, including a memoir, Life So Far (2000). She died on this day in 2006, her 85th birthday.

5 thoughts on “Girl History – Happy Birthday Betty Friedan

  1. cindy knoke says:

    Fascinating! Know the spa well & of course have known of Betty for decades!!!

  2. What an honor to have met her! Love the quotes you chose too. 🙂

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