Betty Friedan

Easton Press Betty Friedan books

The Feminine Mystique - Books That Changed The World - 1996


Who was Betty Friedan?

Betty Friedan, born on February 4, 1921, in Peoria, Illinois, was a prominent American feminist, writer, and activist whose groundbreaking work played a pivotal role in the second-wave feminist movement of the 20th century. Friedan began her academic journey at Smith College, where she developed a passion for psychology and graduated in 1942. After completing her education, she worked as a journalist and writer. In the early 1960s, Friedan conducted a survey of her former classmates for their 15th college reunion. The results, which revealed a sense of discontent and unfulfillment among many educated and well-off housewives, became the foundation for her iconic book, The Feminine Mystique.

Published in 1963, The Feminine Mystique challenged the prevailing societal notion that women found fulfillment solely in the roles of wives and mothers. Friedan articulated the dissatisfaction and sense of emptiness experienced by countless women who felt confined to domesticity and constrained by societal expectations. The book is widely credited with sparking the second-wave feminist movement and inspiring women to reassess their roles and aspirations.

Betty Friedan co-founded the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966, an organization dedicated to advocating for women's rights and equality. She served as NOW's first president, advocating for issues such as equal pay, reproductive rights, and an end to gender-based discrimination. In addition to her activism, Friedan continued to write and contribute to feminist discourse. Her second book, The Second Stage, published in 1981, addressed the challenges facing the feminist movement as it evolved. She also wrote The Fountain of Age in 1993, exploring societal attitudes toward aging.

Betty Friedan's impact extended beyond the feminist movement. Her advocacy for women's rights helped pave the way for significant social and legislative changes, including the passage of Title IX in 1972, which prohibited sex-based discrimination in education. Friedan received numerous accolades for her contributions, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995. However, it's essential to note that Friedan's legacy is not without controversy, as her views and leadership style generated debates within the feminist movement. Betty Friedan passed away on February 4, 2006, on her 85th birthday. Her life and work continue to be remembered as instrumental in reshaping societal perceptions of women and fostering progress toward gender equality.


The Feminine Mystique

Published in 1963, it gave a pitch-perfect description of “the problem that has no name” the insidious beliefs and institutions that undermined women’s confidence in their intellectual capabilities and kept them in the home. Writing in a time when the average woman first married in her teens and 60 percent of women students dropped out of college to marry, Betty Friedan captured the frustrations and thwarted ambitions of a generation and showed women how they could reclaim their lives. Part social chronicle, part manifesto, The Feminine Mystique is filled with fascinating anecdotes and interviews as well as insights that continue to inspire.

When Betty Friedan produced The Feminine Mystique in 1963, she could not have realized how the discovery and debate of her contemporaries' general malaise would shake up society. Victims of a false belief system, these women were following strict social convention by loyally conforming to the pretty image of the magazines, and found themselves forced to seek meaning in their lives only through a family and a home. Friedan's controversial book about these women and every woman would ultimately set Second Wave feminism in motion and begin the battle for equality.

Landmark, groundbreaking, classic, these adjectives barely describe the earthshaking and long-lasting effects of Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique. This is the book that defined "the problem that has no name," that launched the Second Wave of the feminist movement, and has been awakening women and men with its insights into social relations, which still remain fresh, ever since. A national bestseller, with over 1 million copies sold.

The Feminine Mystique ignited a revolution that profoundly changed culture, conciousness & lives. Today it newly penetrates to the heart of issues determining our lives & sounds a call to arms against the very real dangers of a new feminine mystique in contemporary economic & political turbulence. Decades later, the underlying issues raised by Friedan strike at the core of the problems women still face at home & in the marketplace. As they continue to struggle for equality, to keep their hard-won gains, to find fulfillment in careers, marriage & family, The Feminine Mystique remains a seminal conciousness raising work.

This groundbreaking and life-changing work remains just as powerful, important and true as it was forty-five years ago, and is essential reading both as a historical document and as a study of women living in a man's world.

"If you’ve never read it, read it now." ― Arianna Huffington, O, The Oprah Magazine 

Landmark, groundbreaking, classic, these adjectives barely do justice to the pioneering vision and lasting impact of The Feminine Mystique.

 “One of those rare books we are endowed with only once in several decades, a volume that launched a major social movement …Betty Friedan is a liberator of women and men." — Amitai Etzioni, author of The Spirit of Community: The Reinvention of American Society

“Betty Friedan has been and remains a bridge between conservative and radical elements in feminism, an ardent advocate of harmony and human values.” — Marilyn French, Esquire

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