Independent Media Centre Ireland

The Death of Betty Friedan.

category international | gender and sexuality | news report author Monday February 06, 2006 15:03author by obit (iosaf)

the Suburban Mother lives on.

In 1957 an american housewife, 15 years after graduation and into a young marriage with young children sent all her female fellow graduates a list of questions.
The "american housewife" had been born Bettye Naomi Goldstein, and at marriage became Betty Freidan. She was born on February 4th 1921 and died exactly 85 years later on February 4th 2006.
"some worry we'll lose our feminity if we become equality...since femininity is being a woman and feeling good about it, clearly the better you feel about yourself as a person, the better you feel about being a woman. And it seems to me the better you are able to love a man"

RIP = rest in peace
the materialist consumerist culture lives on
the materialist consumerist culture lives on

The route from radical Marxist and Jewish youth to "american married bliss" of the 1950s and her questionaire of 1957 brought
her through asking fellow women about their education, their subsequent experiences, and the satisfaction with their present lives.

She published "The Feminist Mystique" in 1963. She argued effectively on the basis of the questionaire that post War life so championed by the West and USA as "the best its ever been" had in fact stifled women's aspirations and potential.

It must be understood that the 1950's had produced a "cult of motherhood" in the USA and its satelites. In 1956 the magazine "American Life" published a special issue entitled "The American Woman" which glorified the woman who graduated from high school but eschewed university, married before 20, lived in the suburbs, happy faithful and with an average of 4 children by 32 years of age.

She was described as "pretty and popular" and chief amongst her skills were the ability to sew and good sense to offer foot massages. even more -

"A conscientious mother, she spends a lot of time with her children, helping with their homework, listening to their stories or problems.... in her daily routine she attends club or charity meetings, drives the children to school, does the weekly grocery shopping, makes ceramics, and is planning to study French"

Obviously that was utter utter shite.
& Friedan played her rôle in explaining why.
But if you circumspecit today, you'll see that the US
model of family female bliss, so uncomfortably close
to the pre-War European fascist model, is alive and kicking.

Look at the roads at the end school. Look to the supermarkets & malls which extended from American suburbia to Europe, first arriving in Ireland at Stilorgan, and now "our way of life".

Friedan may not have been "radical" nor even "revolutionary", her sucession to Emma Goldman, or Federica Montseny is not even being argued. But like them she walked in the footsteps of Mary Wollstonecraft, and like Wollstonecraft "she is vindicated".

1900 - 18.1% of the US workforce was female.
1910 - 20%
1920 - 20.4%
1930 - 21.9%
1940 - 24.6%
1950 - 27.8%
1960 - 32.3%
1970 - 36.7%
1980 - 42.6%
1990 - 45.1%
1995 - 46.0%
2000 - 47%
[source US bureau of labour statistics]

Throughout the developed world, women are still un-happy and are still force-fed consumerist materialist patterns of life masquerading as "life-style" which are unsustainable, both for their gender and wider societies. It need not be sourced, that when polled the majority of women do not feel their condition has improved "remarkably", and they still have unequal access to work, labour, professions, academia, government. They still don't appear to have a proper section.

My last obituary was for Simon Wiesanthal
and before that Gerry Fitt.

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