Key Personality: Betty Friedan

Leaving Cert > The United States and the World > Key Personalities

Friedan is a Key Personality for:
Society in the United States, 1945 - 1989

  • Early Life:
    Where did Friedan go to college? What did she earn a degree in? What beliefs did she develop there? What did she do in 1949?
  • Friedan and the Feminine Mystique:
    What discovery did she make from the questionnaire she gave at her 15-year reunion? When did Friedan write The Feminine Mystique? How well did it sell? How did she incorporate her findings into the book? What kind of person does the book talk about? What is the "feminine mystique" mentioned in the title?
  • Friedan and The Problem That Has No Name:
    What expectations were there on middle-class women in the US at this time? How did Friedan feel this was restricting women? Why did she call it The Problem With No Name? What did she compare the second-class status of women to?
  • Friedan and her Critics:
    What did her critics say about her? What did they say about her sources? How did her marriage play in to this? Despite the criticism, what effect did her book have on US society?
  • Friedan and NOW:
    When did Friedan found the National Organisation of Women? What was their aim? What other group did she found in 1971, and why? What did she write about in The Second Stage in 1981? What was her opinion of extreme feminism?
Women in early and middle parts of the 20th century suffered an enormous amount of discrimination and were seen as second-class citizens.
Friedan (second from left) with other founders of the National Organisation for Women.
President Jimmy Carter signs an extension for the deadline for the Equal Rights Amendment to be ratified.
Despite the extension, it still failed.

Not all women were united behind Friedan's ideas. Some, such as conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, saw ERA as an attack on the traditional role of women in society.
Friedan in later years. She died in 2006.

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