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February 4: Betty Friedan

Lawrence Bush
February 4, 2010

FRIEDANBetty Friedan was born Bettye Naomi Goldstein on this day in 1921 and died on this day in 2006. Her 1963 best-selling book The Feminine Mystique catalyzed feminist consciousness across the U.S. and beyond. At the time she was a suburban housewife and mother with a psychology degree from Smith College and a background of involvement with Marxists and radical Jews. Friedan co-founded the National Organization for Women in 1966, and on August 26, 1970, the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the Women’s Suffrage Amendment to the Constitution, she led 50,000 marchers in the Women’s Strike for Equality in New York City. Friedan also co-founded the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL) and helped launched the National Women’s Political Caucus. She wrote five more books in the course of her career and was one smart, tough, mouthy woman to whom thousands of others said, in person, “You changed my life.”

The feminine mystique has succeeded in burying millions of American women alive.” — Betty Friedan

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.