Betty Friedan: Her Life
Random House

Betty Friedan: Her Life

  • Publish Date: 1999-03-16
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Author: Judith Hennessee

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There is no one in the women's movement more renowned or pervasive in her presence, more long-lasting--or more contentious--than Betty Friedan.

But what sort of person is she, really? Judith Hennessee, a wonderfully penetrating writer who lived through many of the events recounted in this book, has dug deep and come up with a story of a woman of many paradoxes, a woman who survived disastrous moments and who continues to this day to lead, to find new energies and crusades.

Before feminism, she focused her activism on fighting for the cause of labor unions against big business.
She wanted to be an actress.
Her female friends notwithstanding, she was known as the feminist who didn't like women.
A champion of the family, she had a lusty and violent marriage.
Her husband, Carl, was the first to realize that The Feminine Mystique would be a success--but it was the book and his wife's fame that precipitated the breakup of their marriage.

NOW, the first feminist organization she founded, was never meant to be all-inclusive. Friedan envisioned it as a group that would be able to work things out with those in power.Even though she was a founder of three of the most important organizations of the women's movement--NOW, NWPC, NARAL--two of them shunted her aside.She continually confronted Gloria Steinem, her arch-rival, over the movement's direction.

Betty Friedan is a book whose candor some will find objectionable, but most will come away with a new appreciation of a memorable woman whose rich life is here riotously revealed.

Her insecurities were as great as her achievements, Judith Hennessee writes in her Introduction, and her flaws cost her her leadership. But the movement she ushered in is immense, worldwide; it has permeated our lives; it is intrinsic to the public debate, and its issues have to be addressed. What she did for women outweighs the rest.

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