Adam Ash

Your daily entertainment scout. Whatever is happening out there, you'll find the best writing about it in here.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

All About Betty

You may already know I think that Betty Friedan is the most influential American of the 20th century, if not of all time.
Here are some pieces about and by her, including the first chapter of ‘The Feminine Mystique,” which is definitely worth re-reading.

1. Shopping With Betty: remembering Betty Friedan -- by Emily Bazelon

On a spring day in 1982, my grandmother Mickey and I went shopping with Betty Friedan. Mickey and Betty are second cousins; they grew up 40 miles apart, in Springfield and Peoria, Ill., respectively, and often ate midday Sunday dinner together with their families. On the spring day I remember, we were in Jerusalem for an international conference to which Betty and my grandfather had been invited. We had a day off for sightseeing, and the three of us spent part of it at a small dress boutique.

My grandmother was (and at 91, still is) an elegant woman. She appreciates fine clothing—the texture of good silk or linen, the cut of a well-made suit. She is a shopper to be reckoned with, one who knows what she likes and how to say so. Betty was none of those things. In her later life, she had a flair for funky, outrageous clothes, and her family tells me she always loved to shop. But in that stylish boutique, as I remember it, she waited for Mickey and a saleswoman to bring her dresses to try on. She put them on one by one and rotated dutifully in front of my grandmother, waiting for her reaction before vouching one of her own. She let herself be taken in hand—she wanted to be taken in hand; that was the whole idea. This was, of course, an utter contrast with Betty's usual public—and private—persona. At the conference—attended mostly by men—her raspy voice was always raised in assurance, as it has been in almost every conversation I've had with her since. Betty asked sharp, one-chess-move-ahead questions. She argued and she pronounced. In the Jerusalem boutique, only the rasp was the same. Mostly, she waited for marching orders.

The dress that looked best on Betty was black, with a square neck rimmed in brocade and a high empire waist. My grandmother chose it to flatter her cousin's 61-year-old figure. Betty had no waist to speak of and a round, protruding belly. "She was wearing lots of togas," my grandmother remembers. "She needed a real piece of clothing to wear." There was some discussion of a girdle or control-top pantyhose, I think. The dress made Betty look taller and set off the white streaks in her hair. Mickey told her to buy it. She did.

From this shopping expedition I learned that you can have the confidence to take over any room in the world except a dressing room. You can start a revolution and still worry that you lack good taste. You can be a make-way-for-me feminist—the feminist, in fact, who was famously bitter about losing the spotlight to younger, more glamorous women like Gloria Steinem—and still, almost despite your ideals, want to find a dress that flatters you. In the 1960s and '70s, Betty was part of a wave of feminism that assiduously strove to free women from caring about what they looked like, thinking that preoccupation incompatible with the aims of equality. But Betty was never as radical as some of her peers. And though they attacked her for that, her views have proved more durable. In an introduction she wrote for the 20 th -anniversary edition of her iconic book The Feminine Mystique , a year after our shopping expedition, Betty writes of going to see a portrait of herself in Paris (alongside Colette and Susan B. Anthony). " 'That's not me!' " she recounts telling her French escort. "The artist had painted us all to be pretty. Like taking the warts off Napoleon's nose. Oh well ..." Most of the time, that verbal shrug was Betty's last word.

"Betty always wanted me to go shopping with her," my grandmother says, reeling off different cities and stores. Of course Betty did; in this domain, she was a subject in need of a ruler, at least some of the time, and my grandmother was queen. I can relate. I'm not a good shopper myself. I have none of my grandmother's confidence, though I've benefited from hers. And also like Betty, maybe, I wish I didn't care. Perhaps I should wish that I learned from Betty Friedan that appearance is irrelevant, that mind always trumps over body, that girdle or control-top pantyhose are a tool of paternalistic oppression. But I don't. I'd rather know that she was as unsure of herself as I am. And also this: Women don't always go to war with themselves when they go on a beauty quest, even when they are not beautiful in any traditional sense. Sometimes, they make peace. As I remember it, Betty wore the dress she bought with us to meet the Israeli prime minister. Before we left the hotel, she asked my grandmother how she looked. Mickey gave her approval. Betty beamed.


Postscript: Betty died yesterday, after I wrote this piece. She was at home, with her three children and other family and friends. It was her 85 th birthday. On her dresser was a huge arrangement of flowers in honor of the occasion. She was loved. She will be missed.

(Emily Bazelon is a Slate senior editor.)

2. A Review of Two Betty Friedan Biographies
By Judith Hennessee.
The American Left, the Cold War, and Modern Feminism.
By Daniel Horowitz.

Biographers rarely come across a subject as acutely in need of their skills as Betty Friedan. Here's a woman whose first book (''The Feminine Mystique,'' 1963) and the political organization she co-founded in 1966 (the National Organization for Women) changed the world so comprehensively that it's hard to remember how much change was called for. Then she was eclipsed by the younger, sexier radicals who took over the women's movement. These days she's mostly written off as obsolete -- too bourgeois for left-wing feminists, too feminist for the family-values right and too kooky for everyone else. In her last big book, ''The Fountain of Age,'' she took the revolutionary ideas about human potential she once used to refute conventional notions about women and repackaged them for the elderly with all the finesse of a diet doctor coming out with a follow-up exercise program.

But Friedan's feminism is not irrelevant. We just can't see it anymore. Women no longer suffer ''the problem that has no name,'' the house- and child-bound version of femininity promulgated by experts and internalized by women that Friedan called the feminine mystique. These days it is fully accepted that women will work, and somewhat accepted that their children, if women should choose to have them, will receive part-time mothering. Liberal feminism, with its goal of securing women's legal and political rights, will probably be the only global revolution of this century to make it to the next unreversed. When future generations go looking for its heroine, they'll surely choose Friedan. Thirty-six years after she skewered the wrongheadedness of psychologists and educators with thrilling intellectual derring-do, arguing not just for the greater happiness of women but for that of their husbands and children, there has yet to be published a feminist manifesto that's even in range of ''The Feminine Mystique'' -- that's half as smart or broadly humane.

So why doesn't Friedan get more respect? Here is where biography comes in handy. Like many provocative thinkers, only more so, Friedan undercut the reception of her ideas by being impossibly abrasive. In ''Betty Friedan: Her Life,'' Judith Hennessee tells the story of a meeting held in Friedan's Washington hotel room to determine whether another organization for women was necessary (NOW had not yet been formed). One woman in attendance asked so many annoying questions and declared so many times that there were too many women's groups already that Friedan yelled at her, ''Who invited you?'' and then, ''This is my room and my liquor!'' and then, ''Get out! Get out!'' The woman refused to budge, and Friedan stormed into the bathroom to sulk. Once the women's movement had been launched, Friedan went into permanent diva mode, openly discriminating against NOW's lesbian members and treating the women who worked most closely with her as if they were her maids. That she would be drummed out of NOW's leadership four years after the organization was founded may have been inevitable. That the next wave of feminists would dismiss her ideas as insufficiently revolutionary and Friedan herself as little better than a neoconservative -- as Susan Faludi did in ''Backlash,'' for instance -- is just short of tragic.

Neither Hennessee nor Daniel Horowitz is quite up to the challenge Friedan poses as a subject. ''Betty Friedan: Her Life'' is good on her personal life but too shallow and gossipy to convey the subtleties of her thinking. Horowitz's ''Betty Friedan: And the Making of 'The Feminine Mystique' ''is more intellectually ambitious, but so tendentious you want to throw it across the room. He wrote it, he says, because he discovered while going through Friedan's papers at Radcliffe that she was not just a suburban housewife who happened upon feminism out of frustration, as she has often implied.

Before Friedan moved out of New York City with her husband in 1956, she was a labor journalist and community organizer. Horowitz argues that Friedan played up her unhappiness as a stay-at-home mother and played down her radical past because she felt threatened by McCarthyism -- a plausible if not damning thesis. Horowitz's account of Friedan's early years establishes several links between the Old Left of the 1940's and 1950's and the second-wave feminism of the 1960's. For example, some female members of the Popular Front, a loose coalition of left-wing groups with which Friedan was even more loosely associated, demanded as early as the 1940's that men share housework and the Government sponsor child care. But Horowitz's main objective appears to be to wag his finger at Friedan for the sin of not writing ''The Feminine Mystique'' as a member of the American left -- for hedging ''her discussion of a capitalist conspiracy,'' for failing to explain the feminine mystique ''as an example of false consciousness,'' for offering ''psychological insights'' rather than ''institutional solutions.''

This is simply obtuse. It is precisely because Friedan abandoned the vocabulary of Marxism for that of bourgeois psychology that she was able to dismantle the reigning discourse about women, a middlebrow blend of bowdlerized Freudianism and behaviorism, and sell her audience on a more expansive vision of female possibility. If she'd merely rehashed the theories of Friedrich Engels, no one would have paid the slightest attention.

Perhaps the most interesting thing one learns from these books is that Friedan's exhortation to women to free themselves of their own crippling ideas of themselves emerged out of battles she fought, and only partly won, with herself. Born in 1921 in Peoria, Ill., Bettye Goldstein was a brainy girl in a Midwestern town, a Jew with a stereotypically big nose and bossy manner. She was the darling of her father, who grilled her at the dinner table about her political opinions, and the embarrassment of her beautiful, fashion-conscious mother. Betty blossomed at Smith, dropping the final ''e'' from her name and becoming the star of the psychology department and the editor in chief of the college newspaper. An assiduous student -- her senior thesis was published in an academic journal -- she was also an unusually aggressive editorial writer, taking on everything from Smith's secret societies to American intervention in World War II. Pacifism, in fact, was her first public exercise in principled unreasonableness: Friedan clung to it long after most other leftists had given theirs up, and didn't change her mind until the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

Graduating in 1942 with highest honors, Betty enrolled in a Ph.D. program in psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, did as well as expected, and by March of her first year had won the most coveted fellowship in the field. What happened next is painful to read about: she declined the scholarship, dropped out of school and moved to New York City. In ''The Feminine Mystique,'' Friedan portrays this as the defining moment of her life, the identity crisis that led her indirectly to feminism. She was, she explains, dating a physicist who felt threatened by her success, and this made her fear that she might end up as the stereotypical female academic who turns into a shriveled old maid.

Horowitz, of course, contends that Friedan's version of events soft-pedals the centrality of radicalism in her life. In his version, she left school and moved to New York because she wanted to fight for social justice. Horowitz also makes much of the decade that followed, during which Friedan worked first for Federated Press, a left-wing news service, and then for a union newspaper. Yet according to his own book, in a passage in an early draft of ''The Feminine Mystique'' that was later excised, Friedan was quite sour about the time she spent in the union movement. Comparing herself implicitly to the routinized employee in William H. Whyte's famous work, ''The Organization Man,'' she declared that throughout that period she had allowed ''the large organization'' to tell her what to write and think. Her disgust is understandable, considering she lost both of her jobs to men in circumstances that would probably be actionable under today's sex discrimination laws.

Socialism may have let her down, but she had already opted for marriage and children anyway. Carl Friedan was a lively young theatrical director just back from the war when they met, handsome and funny if not her intellectual equal, and Betty Goldstein was determined not to miss out on having a family. It was a disastrous match. Hennessee gives the details: a letter from Carl to his parents making fun of his future bride's looks, a dinner party at which Carl flung a plate of fish against the wall and Betty calmly peeled it off and served it, physical fights in which Betty was punched or pushed down and Carl bashed in the head with a curtain rod. Perhaps the most liberating effect ''The Feminine Mystique'' had on Friedan personally is that it gave her, four years after it was published and she had become an international celebrity, the courage to end her marriage.

One can see Friedan as the victim of lots of things: sexism, anti-Semitism, a general preference for the tall and willowy over the short and plump (the way the media anointed Gloria Steinem the heroine of the women's movement, literally shoving Friedan out of the picture, gives substance to this last theory). Certainly as the years progressed she began to regard herself through the lens of self-pity. Hennessee paints a grim portrait of the aging Friedan, a lonely, troubled woman who never mustered the focus to write another book as good as ''The Feminine Mystique,'' dissipating her energies instead by jetting around the world and generally playing the media goddess, insofar as the media would have her. She also seems to have descended into paranoia, consumed by strange theories about the Central Intelligence Agency and her rivalry with Steinem.

But what was and remains refreshing about the author of ''The Feminine Mystique'' is that she doesn't blame others for women's plight. It is surprising to reread the book and realize that she almost never addresses the question of sexism. Friedan wants women to lead the lives they're capable of. She thinks they're entitled to jobs that fulfill them and marriages and families that give them love. She suspects that eliminating the sources of female frustration would make everyone's life more pleasant. Granted, she is talking about middle-class life, where pleasantness is a leading desideratum and women can get jobs worth leaving home for, not working-class life, where eliminating brutality may be the goal and women may have only the choice between holding a terrible job and raising children on a husband's meager wages. Friedan also decidedly underestimates the ferocity of the forces that would emerge to push women back into the home -- religious fundamentalism, in particular. But her faith that the will to better one's life can surmount many obstacles is not, I think, misplaced. For all her personal failings, Friedan's life and accomplishments are a testament to that optimism, a hopefulness that swept through society like a giant wind, rearranging as it went. She awaits a biographer who will do it, and her, justice.

3. Twenty Years After 'The Feminine Mystique' – by BETTY FRIEDAN
Published: February 27, 1983

It is 20 years now since "The Feminine Mystique" was published. I am still awed by the revolution that book helped spark. That I was able to put it together at the time it was needed is something of a mystery to me. Even now, women -and men - stop me on the street to reminisce about where they were when they read it - ''I was in the maternity ward with my third kid, and then I decided to go to law school.''

I keep being surprised, as the changes the women's movement set in motion continue to play themselves out in our lives - the enormous and mundane, subtle and not so subtle, delightful, painful, immediate, far-reaching, paradoxical, inexorable and probably irreversible changes in women's lives - and in men's. Firewomen, chairpersons, housespouses, the gender gap, ms., palimony, takeout food, women priests, women rabbis, women prime ministers, women's studies, women's history, double burden, dress for success, assertiveness training, male consciousness raising, role strain, role reversal, networking, sexism, displaced homemakers, equal pay for work of comparable value, marriage contracts, child custody for men, first babies at 40, the two-paycheck family, the single-parent family, ''Victor/ Victoria,'' ''Tootsie' ... . Who could have predicted some of these changes? Not I, certainly.

It's hard enough for me, both personally and politically, to cope with the realities of our revolution, as its daughters and sons take its terms for granted and face new problems, new pressures, new choices and conflicts, and express the need for new dreams.

It's hard to go on evolving, as we all must, when some who now follow, or fight, or study, or seek power within this revolution seem to want to lock it in place forever as an unchanging ''-ism.''

Early this year, I fled to Harvard as a fellow at the Institute of Politics of the Kennedy School of Government, pursuing with relief a new scholarly quest, retreating (or so I thought) from feminist power struggles, disheartened, less by the attacks of our acknowledged enemies than by the fury of some of my sister feminists over the position I took in my book ''The Second Stage.'' I said the women's movement had to move anew, that the feminine mystique, which defined women only as husband's wife, children's mother, server of the family's physical needs and never as person, had been transcended. I said that we had come about as far as we could with the male model of equity and that now we needed a model encompassing female experience and female values, which men are beginning to share. ''Thesis, antithesis, synthesis,'' as Karl Marx said. As our revolution converges on larger economic upheavals, I said, we must come to new terms with family and with work. Some didn't like my saying that.

Well, we are in the second stage now, whether or not anyone wants to admit it. And I am still a feminist. But I am sick and tired of the new spate of pronouncements claiming that the women's movement is finished and the revolution is lost because the ''postfeminist generation'' is moving from a different place.

Of course the postfeminist generation is in a different place. The women's movement put them there. Their mothers were the ones who rejected the feminine mystique and went back to school and went to work and otherwise started to change their lives 20 years ago.

I, as a feminist, do not find it a cause for grief that this new genera-tion simply takes the personhood of women for granted. If they take women's rights and the opportunities we fought for too much for granted -if they are worried now about jobs, difficult choices about having children, how to pay for a house with or without two incomes and double burdens they can't refuse now even if sometimes they'd like to - it's a mark of how far our revolution has come, and a summons to its own next stage.

As far as I'm concerned, the daughters have to move on; they don't have to say, ''Thank you'' - though it's nice when they do. It's also nice that so many now study women's history in college, even in high school. But I am impatient to get those women's studies integrated into history, into every subject from grade school on.

I still remember how surprised I was, taking the bus in from my suburban dream house in Rockland County to the New York Public Library when I was writing my book, 20-odd years ago, to uncover the women's history that had been so buried by the feminine mystique in the 1940's and 50's: Mary Wollstonecraft, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Margaret Fuller, Lucy Stone, Susan B. Anthony and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, women whom most educated women like myself had never studied. Will our memory be buried in another generation as theirs was? Will some future great-granddaughter have to invent feminism once more from scratch? I doubt it.

Emily, my own daughter the doctor, went from taking it all for granted in college (''I'm not a feminist; I'm a person. It's not necessary to fight for women anymore'') to fervent feminism after one year in medical school (''There are so many of us now, they don't dare do it openly the way they used to. It's worse now that it's so subtle''). But it's not worse that women are 30 percent of the medical-school class, rather than 3 percent.

After organizing the women in her medical school on the unfinished business of sex discrimination, my daughter began to concern herself with fundamental issues as to the practice of medicine itself and her own life. She has decided to go into family practice, dealing with the patient as a whole person in the concrete family setting, not as a specimen of isolated symptoms. Her current problem has to do with 800 miles of distance between her hospital residency and his. Neither of them would consider asking that the other sacrifice his or her own goals for the sake of their relationship, which somehow survives the obstacles of distance and time. y daughter-in-law, Helen, is technically, at the moment, a housewife. The baby was not exactly planned. There were difficult choices to be made, since both she and Jonathan, my younger son, had just finished college, after having dropped out for some years.

One day last summer, when they'd brought the baby out to my house in Sag Harbor, Helen overheard me on the phone discussing how to stop new attacks on the Supreme Court decision asserting women's right to legal medical abortion. ''The right to abortion is very important to me,'' said this postfeminist mother, nursing her baby. ''It's important knowing that we had the baby because we chose to. It makes a big difference.''

I relish their mutual joy, their new confident maturity and sense of themselves in their chosen parenthood -which Jonathan truly shares. Watching him skillfully maneuver Rafael into his snowsuit and throw him over his shoulder into the backpack, I sense he gets at least as much of his male identity from being a father as from being an engineer.

But Helen is unmistakably the mother. She does not let any male doctor-as-God tell her what to do with her baby the way we let Dr. Spock instruct us. She does not apologize for sometimes being ''bored out of my gourd'' in this ''hiatus'' during which she concentrates on mothering. The choices in themselves seem to create a new sense of values and of self in such a postfeminist woman.

And I, as grandmother at last, am the envy of my friends, whose doctor-lawyer-banker daughters are too caught up in their careers to consider babies. With my beautiful, incredible grandbaby - such a beaming, bright bundle of energy, smiling at me with his father's big ears and dimples and his own deep blue eyes, so familiar, so intensely alive, so awesome a miracle - I exult in the generation of life, though I've been too busy this year to baby-sit much.

This year, a number of my family of friends had their first babies at 35, at 40, some undergoing rather scary, unexpected complications at birth. Other friends made me fear for their sanity as they suddenly became obsessed, in their mid-40's, after 20 years of brilliant careers, with the wish to have a child.

Again and again, in Cambridge or California, one or another notso-young woman would ask my advice about having a baby ''by myself.'' I would reply that it seemed to me difficult enough, and costly enough, to bring up a child with two parents.

But the power of this desire to have a child - when women no longer need to have a child to define themselves as women - seems to be as great as or even greater than ever. Choice has liberated an exultant mother; choice has also liberated women to be generative in other ways. Gloria Steinem, for instance, and Germaine Greer have been fine role models for that pattern.

But there is unfinished business here for many women. Now that economic necessity dictates that most women must continue to work after they become mothers - nearly one out of two married women with children under 6 now works, compared with 19 percent in 1960; and nearly two-thirds of married women with children over 6 work - someone is going to have to battle, in a new and serious way, for institutions that will help the new family. Imaginative thinking should be done about maternity leave, paternity leave, time off for parents when their children are sick, parental sabbaticals, reduced schedules, flextime, job sharing and child-care supports that don't now exist. But who will take up this battle, and how, in a time when jobs themselves are so scarce that people must take what they can get, when budgets for social programs that already exist are being cut down?

It is crucial for feminists to understand the power of the choice to have children and to keep fighting for the right to abortion. But they must give new priority to a child-care crusade and to restructuring work. If these issues are not addressed soon, we can fear a new feminine mystique, invoked to send women home again to have babies instead of competing for dwindling jobs. During this time of recession-depression, President Reagan, who has declared a new campaign against abortion, has also suggested that there wouldn't be as much unemployment if women would stop looking for jobs.

After the elections in 1982, political analysts finally began to take seriously the ''gender gap,'' though it had been building for some years, a reaction, in part, to the Administration's attitudes toward the equal rights amendment and abortion. Month after month, women had been indicating their sharp disapproval of President Reagan. The latest Gallup poll found that just 36 percent of women approved of Reagan's job performance, compared with 47 percent of men.

The gender gap seemed to be based on women's greater outrage at Reaganomics and a national budget that destroyed services essential to the old, the poor, to children, students, the handicapped and the environment while increasing billions were shoveled into nuclear missiles. The human suffering caused by high unemployment seemed particularly galling to women. It didn't matter that Ed Koch, in his New York gubernatorial race, said the proper words about women's rights, when he had been so opportunistic about Reaganomics. It did not matter that Margaret M. Heckler and Millicent Fenwick were women and had been for the E.R.A.; when they went along with Reagan in 1982, they were defeated. Political analysts now agree that women were crucial to the election of Mario M. Cuomo as Governor of New York and to the defeat or near defeat, in Texas, New Jersey, Missouri and elsewhere, of favorites who had been insensitive to women's basic concerns.

At any rate, it is clear now that women's rights and women's issues are no longer minor political items, worth a patronizing sentence on the sixth page of the political speech or tea and cookies in the Rose Garden. President Reagan has just named two women to the Cabinet - Elizabeth H. Dole as Secretary of Transportation and Margaret Heckler as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Getting into position for 1984, Democrats often begin their speeches with passionate pledges to equal rights. ''With the gender gap,'' a Democratic aide said to me recently, ''issues like child care could be politically sexy in '84.'' Indeed, this month, an extraordinary meeting of leaders of women's groups, church groups, unions and civil-rights organizations was held in New York City to plan a child-care crusade for 1983.

E.R.A. was reintroduced in Congress this year, and I say there will be an equal rights amendment to the Constitution by the end of the decade, after we get the Government turned around. A few months ago, I was invited to Rome by women leaders of the ruling Christian Democratic Party. The idea was to speak to them and to leading Italian feminist, Socialist and Communist women about ''The Second Stage,'' which had just come out in Italy. But I don't think they had really read it. Evidently the Christian Democrats realized they had made a big political mistake by supporting a referendum that would have taken away Italian women's right to abortion. The referendum was overwhelmingly defeated, and now, it appeared, I was being brought over to show a conciliatory position toward feminism. Someone must have told them I ''believed in the family.''

To my horror, I heard them introducing me as a ''repentant feminist'' (femminista pentita). I had to clear that up, of course. I had to go back to the feminine mystique, and that necessary, wonderful first stage of women's liberation in Italy, when they had marched in the thousands and voted in the millions for women's right to divorce and to abortion. In their country, as in mine, I said, reactionary forces were still trying to take those rights away, as their abortion referendum demonstrated.

Of course, I said, I respect those who, out of religious or other personal conviction, would not choose to use that right. ''The value is life,'' I said. ''The life of the woman and the right of the child to be wanted in life. Abortion is simply a necessity for some when birth control fails.

''But that issue is behind you now, as I hope it will be soon for us,'' I continued. ''We must all move into the second stage, where we face new problems of economic survival, personal survival and family survival. We must be able to surmount the dangers of nuclear war, terrorism and economic chaos. We must continue to be able to choose to bear children.''

I don't know if that's what the Christian Democrats quite expected. The other feminist leaders present, the Socialist and Communist women, seemed to pick up my second-stage suggestions about the need for new child-care supports and new kinds of communal housing for working parents and for those divorced or widowed men and women who now live too much alone.

I went from Rome to Paris, where Yvette Roudy, who originally translated ''The Feminine Mystique'' into French, is now President Mit-terrand's Minister for Women's Rights. She is no token under secretary but holds a full cabinet ministry for women's affairs. Yvette described her efforts, in all the regions and departments of France, to protect women's rights in jobs, education, marriage and divorce and to give them training for new nontraditional work.

As we walked through the lofty arches of the splendid building that houses her ministry, I was proudly shown a ''gallery of honor,'' where, after Colette and Susan B. Anthony, there was a larger-thanlife portrait that was supposed to be me. ''That's not me!'' I said. The artist had painted us all to be pretty. Like taking the warts off Napoleon's nose. Oh, well.

Is this new burst of women's power in France and Italy merely a belated epilogue to that same women's movement that they say has crested and is on its way out over here, or a preview of greater power to come? The fact is that women are given credit for having put Mitterrand in power in France, as we did Cuomo in New York State. I'm worried now about the new polarizations hinted at by recent polls, cutting across the gender gap, as sharp differences emerge between the married and the unmarried, those with children and with none, the young and the old, the ones with jobs and the unemployed.

While the new census shows that in the 1980's the great majority of young adult Americans will marry, and remarry, and that they will have children within marriage, they are having fewer children, and having themlater, than they used to. And 10 percent of young adults will never marry, a 100 percent increase over the 1970 rate. There is also a 100 percent increase in single-parent households, nine out of 10 of which are headed by women. A fourth of all households now contain no children. ''Nonfamily households'' have risen by 89 percent. But the number of divorces seems to be leveling off at about 50 percent. The need, or the choice, to marry, or to remain married, takes on new existential and economic importance, for women as for men. For families in poverty today tend primarily to be those headed by women, followed by those headed by men where there is no second income. But the fact that women earn only 59 cents for every dollar men earn still cuts through the illusion of equality.

Will the married be the new elite and those living alone the underclass? Will men and women who make that cherished, costly choice to have children become the second class, while the singleminded take power?

How can the trade-offs within marriage be measured? He makes more than she does, but he feels less strain now because he's no longer carrying it all. She makes less but also feels less stress, if she is just ''helping.'' She feels bitter if he is laid off and she has to carry the whole breadwinning burden, as well as take care of the house and kids. He certainly doesn't spend as much time on housework and the kids as she does; he doesn't feel that responsibility for the kids that a mother never quite escapes. But how much of that power does she really want to give up?

Now that we've broken through those rigidly polarized male and female sex roles, will we settle for a diversity of patterns of sharing among women and men?

Am I wrong to try to redefine our concept of ''family,'' to link the interests of the old and single with the needs of those in their childbearing years? Those who can't afford to stop working at 60 or 65 might welcome jobs that wouldn't demand a rigid 9-to-5 schedule. The option of shorter hours would not solve the unemployment problem, but it would provide more jobs for more people.

My friends now in their 50's and 60's who fought the battles - the first woman to have a seat on the stock exchange, the first female network vice president, the first executive vice president of a major advertising agency, the nun who became a college president, the housewives who survived their own divorces and became labor arbitrators, the women, passed over for corporate promotion, university tenure or union leadership, who brought and won class-action suits -are facing now the frontiers of age.

There are new questions to be asked beyond success, beyond marriage and divorce, as we face husbands' strokes and retirement, and our years to come, living alone. Those are the questions that are now my personal and professional concern. Feelings of deja vu wash over me as I hear geriatric experts talk about the aged with the same patronizing, ''compassionate'' denial of their personhood that I heard when experts talked about women 20 years ago.

Much is being said among American women today about the strange dearth of vital men. I go into a town to lecture, and I hear about all the wonderful, dynamic women who have emerged in every field in that town. But, frequently, whatever the age of the woman, she says, ''There don't seem to be any men. The men seem so dull and gray now. They're dreary, they're flat, they complain, they're tired.'' And, if they're my age, they're dead.

That women are now living so much longer and aging more vitally than men has wide ramifications. The latest census figures show that American women have a life expectancy of 77.8 compared with 69.9 for American men - an eight-year difference compared with just two years in 1900 and five in 1950. Despite all the gloomy predictions, women are not succumbing to men's patterns of Type A stress and heart attack, ulcers and premature death as they take on jobs in business and professions. Despite the phase of ''dressing for success'' and courses that taught women how to be more like men to get into the executive suite, women don't seem to be falling into the ''superwoman'' trap so easily anymore. (They are even spending less time on housework, new studies show.)

On the contrary, data just published by Rosalind Barnett and Grace Baruch of the Wellesley Center for Research on Women show that women between the ages of 35 and 55 who combine work, marriage and motherhood do the best of all women in their age group in general psychological well-being. They have more control over their lives, which now seems essential to health; they are able to satisfy their needs for achievement and mastery as well as for pleasure and intimacy. And these women do not show depression, deterioration or traumatic crises at midlife and beyond as much as women used to and men still do. Women are not beginning to die like men. As a matter of fact, I've just been asked to address the Western Gerontological Association this spring on ''Why Can't Men Age More Like Women?'' The very terms of human achieve-ment, of moral values and mental development have, up until now, been defined by men and measured in terms of male experience. The highest peak of moral development was some abstract concept of justice, in terms of which philosophers and psychologists from Plato to Freud and beyond found women wanting.

In 1971, a Harvard psychologist named Carol Gilligan began measuring women and men according to a scale based on female experience as well as male, and found a level of moral development beyond abstract justice. The research translated and tested the abstract concept of justice against the concrete experience of daily life in its actual human complexity. On this scale, women reached levels of moral development men did not seem even to conceive of. ''In a Different Voice,'' she called the book that resulted from the study.

What new dimensions will emerge in every field as women begin to find that different voice, their own voice, and use it in medicine, law, theology, architecture, in all the arts and all the sciences?

I got a curious insight into all this during my year as a fellow at Harvard. I immersed myself, for one, in the study of evolution, for I became increasingly convinced that breaking through the feminine mystique, and the women's movement for equality, and this second stage, as female values begin to be shared by the male, is not really a revolution at all but simply a stage in human evolution, necessary for survival.

In that bastion of male excellence, Harvard, women were now admitted on equal terms with men, if not yet in equal numbers. During my year there, I was asked to meet with the women at the law school, women medical students and interns, the women's group at the divinity and ar-chitecture schools. These women were awesome in their competence, but they made me uneasy. They seemed too neat, somehow, too controlled, constricted, almost subdued and slightly juiceless.

A dean of one of the professional schools said: ''We take in the most brilliant women, of course. Their record of achievement is breathtaking, as are their scores on the admission tests. But for some reason, they don't do as well as they should when they get here. Can you explain it?''

''Not without interviewing them,'' I said, ''but I have a hunch it's because your structures - your whole ambiance - is so masculine; it alienates them somehow, though they might not be aware of it. Something around here must not elicit the best of female energy. But if that's so, you'd better find it out. Because it's also having an influence on the men that may not be conducive to the kind of leadership needed now.''

So just before I left, I ran a seminar on ''Masculinism at Harvard,'' sponsored by the Institute of Politics. The seminar made Harvard officials so nervous that it was closed to the public and the press. Women, and a few men, raised questions about the viciously competitive adversary models they were learning in their case studies, and whether, in fact ''a different voice'' was needed now in law, in business and in medicine. Among the men, mainly it was the wise old professors, like David Riesman and David McClelland, and some of the young professors, like Stephen Gould, who seem to be wise in a new way, who wanted to talk about such things. But the women, who had seemed to me so strangely subdued, kept nodding their heads. They knew exactly what it was - masculinism -and maybe even what it was doing to them.

It is not easy for a woman to transcend or question the masculinism of a powerful, successful male institution. The first women there will necessarily try to succeed according to the male model. For women may have to reach a point of critical mass in any institution to raise that different voice and the institution may have to face its own critical crisis to hear it.

It is not easy to question the masculinism of a powerful and successful nation, until perhaps its most thoughtful men and women sense that it may be coming too close to economic collapse or nuclear extinction for such questions not to be asked. The political gender gap surfaced first among women on the basic issue of war and peace. But there were a lot of men among the half-million people who marched in Central Park last year for the nuclear freeze. At the first NOW convention after the defeat of the E.R.A., in Indianapolis in October 1982, the foremothers were asking each other which issue would emerge next to mobilize women's passions.

I've heard this kind of thing often in these last months, from thoughtful students, from tired women and even from men, all people looking at the wreckage of their own beleaguered movements - liberal politics, civil rights, labor, the environment - and wondering where the kind of life-changing political passion that has fueled the women's movement these last years will come from next. What will be the issue? Equal pay for work of comparable value? Child care? Displaced homemakers? Rape? Lesbian rights? Discrimination in Social Security, in pensions?

So diverse have the choices and patterns of women's lives become that there is no single issue now that could hold us all together as firmly as the battle for our constitutional equal rights. Now that women's rights are in danger, and women's outrage has taken concrete political form, that issue is no longer a separate women's issue. It is now an issue that can elect a President; it is an issue that the major political parties are now sprinting to catch up with.

I'm not sure there is, or has to be, a separate, single women's issue in the next stage. I think women's most basic issues now converge on men's, the basic issues of war and peace and economic survival, of quality of life for young and old. But when that different voice, now emerging from women in politics and other fields, also begins to be heard from men, it will become a different politics.

Are men changing? Those young men, like my son, who carry their little babies so proudly in their backpacks to the supermarket? Those men now suffering the midlife crises? Men must change. They must develop the flexibility and sensitivity to their own feelings and the feelings of others - the attunement to life that has been considered up to now feminine.

Crazy? Well, who would have thought that the biggest movie hit of 1983 would be a picture called ''Tootsie,'' in which a male actor impersonates a woman so he can get a part as a hospital administrator in a soap opera and becomes a better man as a woman. And men love it, and so do women, even though some doctrinaire feminists claim it's macho for a man to make a hit playing a woman. But then, the women say, pointedly, Dustin Hoffman was much more attractive as a woman than when he went back to being a man, as if the only choice was between macho and wimp. Actually, the sensitivity he acquired, sharing woman's experience, made him a much better, stronger, more tender man.

It was a wonderful, heart-easing, surprising movie. And not a snigger in it. Somethow, putting together the male and female halves of our being seemed to clean up the sexual act.

We have clearly now broken through and beyond the masculine mystique for man and woman to find such hilarious joyous adventure in being a woman. Which is not the same thing at all as going back to the feminine mystique. It is the next clue in the human mystery.

4. How to Get the Women's Movement Moving Again -- by BETTY FRIEDAN
Published: November 3, 1985

THIS IS ADDRESSED TO ANY WOMAN who has ever said ''we'' about the women's movement, including those who say, ''I'm not a feminist, but. . . .'' And it's addressed to quite a few men. It's a personal message, not at all objective, and it's in response to those who think our modern women's movement is over - either because it is defeated and a failure, or because it has triumphed, its work done, its mission accomplished. After all, any daughter can now dream of being an astronaut, after Sally Ride, or running for President, after Geraldine Ferraro.

I do not think that the job of the modern women's movement is done. And I do not believe the movement has failed. For one thing, those of us who started the modern women's movement, or came into it after marriage and children or from jobs as ''invisible women'' in the office, still carry the glow of ''it changed my whole life,'' an aliveness, the satisfaction of finding our own voice and power, and the skills we didn't have a chance to develop before.

I do believe, though, that the movement is in trouble. I was too passionately involved in its conception, its birth, its growing pains, its youthful flowering, to acquiesce quietly to its going gently so soon into the night. But, like a lot of other mothers, I have been denying the symptoms of what I now feel forced to confront as a profound paralysis of the women's movement in America. And this, in turn, has forced me to think about how we can get the women's movement moving again - a new round of consciousness-raising, for instance, or utilizing the networks of professional women, or ceasing the obsession with the matter of pornography.

I see as symptoms of the paralysis the impotence in the face of fundamentalist backlash; the wasting of energy in internal power struggles when no real issues are at stake; the nostalgic harking back to old rhetoric, old ideas, old modes of action instead of confronting new threats and new problems with new thinking; the failure to mobilize the young generation who take for granted the rights we won and who do not defend those rights as they are being taken away in front of our eyes, and the preoccupation with pornography and other sexual diversions that do not affect most women's lives. I sense an unwillingness to deal with the complex realities of female survival in male-modeled careers, with the new illusions of having it all in marriage and equality in divorce, and with the basic causes of the grim feminization of poverty. The potential of women's political power is slipping away between the poles of self-serving feminist illusion and male and female opportunism. The promise of that empowerment of women that enabled so many of us to change our own lives is being betrayed by our failure to mobilize the next generation to move beyond us.

EVIDENCE OF THE MOVEMENT'S paralysis has been impinging on my own life in many ways: Over the last few years, I've noticed how the machinery for enforcing the laws against sex discrimination in employment and education has been gradually dismantled by the Reagan Administration, and how the laws' scope has been narrowed by the courts, with little public outcry. Professional lobbyists for women's organizations objected, of course, but there have been no mass protests from the women in the jobs and professions that those laws opened to them. In the early days of the National Organization for Women, nearly 20 years ago, we demanded and won an executive order banning Government contracts to companies or institutions guilty of sex discrimination; it was the first major weapon women could use to demand jobs. Some officials in the Administration are proposing the order's elimination. The Reagan Administration is also urging the courts to undo recent movement victories regarding equal pay for work of comparable value. The crusade against women's right to choice in the matter of childbirth and abortion, preached from the pulpits of fundamentalist churches and by the Catholic hierarchy, first achieved a ban on Federal aid to poor women seeking abortion, then the elimination of United States Government aid to third-world family-planning programs that counsel abortion. The Attorney General announced this summer he would seek to reverse the historic Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, which 12 years ago decreed that the right of a woman to decide according to her own conscience when and whether and how many times to bear a child was as basic a right as any the Constitution originally spelled out for men.

At a recent meeting to mobilize women in mass communications to help save that right, I was amazed to hear a one-time radical feminist suggest that abortion should not be defended in terms of a woman's right. ''Women's rights are not chic in America anymore,'' she argued. The main interest of many feminist groups in various states in recent years seems to be outlawing pornography. Laws prohibiting pornography as a form of sex discrimination and violation of civil rights have been proposed in Minnesota, Indiana, California and New York. A former NOW leader who practices law in upstate New York was startled, when she dropped in on a feminist fund-raiser, to be asked to support a nationwide ban on sexually explicit materials. When she warned, ''A law like that would be far more dangerous to women than the most obscene pornography,'' she was greeted with incomprehension and hostility. At a black-tie banquet at the Plaza Hotel in New York in September, I proudly watched a sparkling parade of champion women athletes as they entertained the corporate donors who sponsor their games and scholarships through the 11-year-old Women's Sports Foundation. The women champions in basketball, judo, gymnastics, tennis, skiing, swimming, boxing, running and sports-car and dogsled racing paraded down the runway in sequined miniskirts and satin jumpsuits, clasping their hands over their heads in the victory gesture. They gave credit to parents and teachers, but not one mentioned the recent Supreme Court decision regarding Grove City College in Pennsylvania. That decision threatens to remove school athletic programs from the protection of the law banning sex discrimination in Federally assisted education - which is what provided crucial athletic training to these new female champions in the first place. At another reception, of one of the many new networks of women corporate executives, a woman in her late 30's, holding a job a woman had never been given before in a large insurance company, told me: ''If my slot became open today, they wouldn't give it to a woman. Not because I haven't done a good job - I keep getting raises. But they've stopped talking about getting more women on the board - or in the com-pany. The word has gone out from the White House: They don't have to worry anymore about women and blacks. It's over.'' At a media women's reception for Christine Craft, the last movement heroine to take a case to court against that particular mix of sex and age discrimination that threatens to impose a premature ceiling on the first gener-ation of female broadcasters, women now hitting their 40's, many younger women competing for anchor jobs did not show up to support her. At one company, executives who faced class-action suits a decade ago now boast that their best new employees are the women. They were shocked when one of their star superwomen, on a rung very near the top, became pregnant with her second child and announced she was quitting. The boss even offered her an extended maternity leave, which is not required by law or union contract, but she quit anyway. ''You may never have another chance like this,'' her colleagues, male and female, protested. ''I'll never have these years with my children again,'' she answered. Most of them did not understand. They figured that whatever guilt or pressure she suffered trying to juggle baby and demanding job was her peculiar ''personal problem.'' Another longtime feminist mother, with three ''yuppie'' daughters -banker, lawyer, talent agent - says, regretfully, ''They're not feminists . . . they take all that for granted.'' She goes on to tell me that ''Janey's problem is her love life and her job, and Ann's is her kids and her job, and Phyllis thinks maybe she should go back and get an M.B.A. With all that and exercise class, they don't have time for the meetings we used to go to. Why do they have to be feminists when they never had to suffer like we did?''

But the center for displaced housewives where this mother works - in a not-too-secure administrative job -may close down soon because of a cutoff in Government funds for job training. Seeking a part-time typist at $6,000 a year, the center was amazed to get more than 100 answers to a single ad, including women with degrees and years of job experience. Among the applicants was a long-divorced woman of retirement age who had served as a role model for feminist independence, enjoying brief celebrity for the self-help book she had written about her first brave years alone. Now she is applying for ''any kind of job, typing, sales'' - and has begun studying the ads for ''household help.'' She is, to put it bluntly, desperate. I have breakfast with two of my younger colleagues in the movement, the best and brightest, the kind that should be moving now into national leadership. One tells me she is leaving for a new job in foreign affairs. She has developed her women's rights office into such fine professional shape that ''any good pro can run it now.'' She needs a new purpose, room to grow. The other, barely 30, has the professional skills, honed during 10 years of service to the women's movement, but is not interested in the movement job. ''What's the use of all this professionalism if the grass-roots movement isn't there?'' she shrugs. ''What's wrong with it?'' I ask. ''There's a yearning for the same old music, the same old marches, by the ones who still meet in the church basements,'' she says. ''But they are the desperate ones, the lonely ones and the pros like myself who still make some kind of living off the movement. Let's face it, the yuppies - I hate that word - who are in the halfway decent jobs that the movement opened to women don't relate to the old rhetoric. The new professional networks, which supposedly help them get ahead, don't even pretend to be feminist anymore.''

Thinking of my own daughter-the-doctor and my daughter-in-law the editor-mother, I realize how much more complex, confident, vital and pressured their lives are than ours were. Their problems, putting it all together, keep them too busy to go to meetings. But are their problems as serious as those of the desperate housewives and the invisible women in the offices 20 years ago? Or as serious as those of the women struggling alone for economic and emotional survival today? Do women who are moving ahead in their own lives have less in common with the desperate ones? Do they even want to deny the very possibility of that desperation? (We were all pretty desperate then.) This last year, books, articles and notices of television programs have been piling up on my desk about these new problems of ''the postfeminist generation.'' ''Smart Women, Foolish Choices,'' for instance, and ''Lesser Lives.'' This growing chorus expresses a personal disillusionment with male-defined careers, a faintheartedness about ''having it all,'' a rebellion against superwoman standards, a sense of malaise or guilt or regret about prices paid in marriage or with children - and a recurring theme of ''not wanting to be like a man.'' For most of this year, NOW has been locked in a bitter, vengeful internal power struggle. Eleanor Smeal, for whom the limit of a four-year presidency of NOW had been waived for the duration of the equal rights amendment battle, came out of retirement to run against her successor, Judy Goldsmith, in midterm. She blamed her for NOW's depleted treasury and loss of members, and demanded a return to street demonstrations for E.R.A. and free choice in abortion. Many older feminists, who thought both had been good leaders for their time, deplored the waste of energy in such a clash, as powerful enemies were closing in. Futile nostalgia for the radical marching tunes of another day will not enlist a new generation, in different circumstances, to save the rights now being taken away. But the weakening of the organization and the longing for the old sense of empowerment are real enough - and not likely to be solved by recriminations that, unfortunately, continue to divide NOW since Eleanor Smeal's return to power.

A WARE OF THESE symptoms, and yet denying my own sense that the American women's movement was over, not ready to admit defeat but wanting to move on to other things myself, I went to Kenya last summer out of a sheer sense of historic duty to see the thing through to its end. Most card-carrying American feminists were not even bothering with the meeting in Nairobi. NOW had scheduled its own convention in New Orleans at the same time as the United Nations World Conference of Women.

Ten years earlier, when the modern women's movement was spreading from America to the world, I had joined women wanting to organize in their countries in appealing to the U.N. to call a world assembly of women. At the first two world women's meetings, in Mexico in 1975 and Copenhagen in 1980, I had seen the beginnings of international networking among women broken up by organized disrupters led by armed gunmen shouting slogans against ''imperialism'' and ''Zionism.'' I had been appalled at the way the official male delegates from Arab countries and other third-world and Communist nations that control the U.N. showed contempt for women's rights, using those conferences mainly to launch a new doctrine of religious and ethnic hate, equating Zionism and racism. And I had been repelled by the way the delegates from Western countries, mostly male officials or their wives and female flunkies, let them thereby rob those conferences of the moral and political weight they might have given to the advance of women worldwide. This year, the United States delegation had instructions from President Reagan to walk out if the question of Zionism was included in the conclusions reached at Nairobi.

To my amazement, the women's movement emerged in Nairobi with sufficient strength worldwide to impose its own agenda of women's concerns over the male political agenda that had divided it before. Despite, or because of, the backlash and other problems they face at home, nearly 17,000 women from 159 nations assembled, some 14,000 having paid their own way or been sent by volunteer, church or women's groups to the unofficial forum that is part of every such U.N. conference. Some traveled by plane three and four days, or by bus from African villages.

There was a bypassing, or bridging, of the old, abstract ideological conflicts that had seemed to divide women before - a moving beyond the old rhetoric of career versus family, equality versus development, feminism versus socialism, religion versus feminism, or feminism as an imperialist capitalist arrogance irrelevant to poor third-world women. What took the place of all this was a discussion of concrete strategies for women to acquire more control of their lives. Third-world revolutionaries, Arab and Israeli women, as well as Japanese, Greeks and Latins, gathered under a baobab tree where, every day at noon, like some African tribal elder, I led a discussion on ''Future Directions of Feminism.''

We shared common concerns about how to move ahead and earn a living in man's world - as women, even in African villages, now have to do - without losing, even using, one's best values and strengths as women. We talked about how to keep forging ahead as women when other questions - like the Israeli-Arab conflict or the superpowers' nuclear-arms race - are preoccupying our nations and using up their resources. We shared ideas on how to keep advancing, even underground, when fundamentalist groups try to take away a woman's right to control her own body or to move independently in the world, as they are doing in Egypt and the United States and have done in Iran.

When the black-veiled Iranian women, in their chadors and with their armed male guards, occupied my tree one day, we moved to another, and when they occupied both trees, we carried on our dialogue in the sun. ''That's the way women have to move now everywhere in the world,'' I said. ''We go forward, we get pushed back, we regroup. It's not a win-lose battle, to be finished in any year.'' ''And we don't waste energy on nonessentials,'' said an African teacher.

At the official U.N conference in Nairobi, American women delegates, mainly Republicans led by Maureen Reagan, the President's daughter, were working the hall for consensus on forward-looking strategies on equality that included things American feminists hardly dare dream of in Reagan's Washington - parental leave, child care, family planning and an economic value for women's work in home and field counted in a nation's G.N.P. as well as equal pay for work of comparable value. Many of the other delegations from European, Latin American, African and Asian nations were now led by or included women who had been fighting for women's rights at home. Ninety percent of the world's governments have set up national bodies for the advancement of women, most of them in this last decade, while ours in the United States have been dismantled.

At Nairobi, when Arab and Communist delegations engaged, as usual, in ''anti-Zionist'' and ''anti-imperialist'' rhetoric, these strong women delegates, especially the Africans, kept warning that the women of the world would condemn those who blocked consensus on equality. And they forced the male diplomats to negotiate round the clock until they deleted that anti-Zionist expression of hate that has been ritual at every U.N. conference since 1975. To the amazement of experts, a program involving forward-looking strategies to advance women to equality was adopted by consensus of the nations of the world, calling on the U.N. to implement them and to report back to another world assembly of women before the year 2000.

I and other Americans - as many black as white among the 2,000 of us at Nairobi -went home strengthened, resolved not to accept backward-nation status for American women. For though we had gone to Nairobi subdued by our own setbacks and sophisticated enough not to of-fer Western feminism as the answer to the problems of women of the third world, it was truly humiliating to discover that we are no longer the cutting edge of modern feminism or world progress toward equality. Even Kenya has an equal rights clause in its Constitution!

HOW CAN WE LET THE WOMEN'S movement die out here in America when what we began is taking hold now all over the world? I would like to suggest 10 things that might be done to break the blocks that seem to have stymied the women's movement in America:

1. BEGIN A NEW ROUND OF CON-sciousness-raising for the new generation. These women, each thinking she is alone with her personal guilt and pressures, trying to ''have it all,'' having second thoughts about her professional career, desperately trying to have a baby before it is too late, with or without husband, and maybe secretly blaming the movement for getting her into this mess, are almost as isolated, and as powerless in their isolation, as those suburban housewives afflicted by ''the problem that had no name'' whom I interviewed for ''The Feminine Mystique'' over 20 years ago. Those women put a name to their problem; they got together with other women in the new feminist groups and began to work for political solutions and began to change their lives.

That has to happen again to free a new generation of women from its new double burden of guilt and isolation. The guilts of less-than-perfect motherhood and less-than-perfect professional career performance are real because it's not possible to ''have it all'' when jobs are still structured for men whose wives take care of the details of life, and homes are still structured for women whose only responsibility is running their families. I warned five years ago that if the women's movement didn't move into a second stage and take on the problems of restructuring work and home, a new generation would be vulnerable to backlash. But the movement has not moved into that needed second stage, so the women struggling with these new problems view them as purely personal, not political, and no longer look to the movement for solutions.

Putting new names to their problems, they might stop feeling guilty for not being able to conduct their professional lives just like men, might give each other support in new patterns of professional advance and parenting, might together demand new political solutions of parental leave and child care from company or profession or community, or even, once again, from government. They might, then, find new energy to save the rights they now take for granted or even secretly resent, because they are so hard to live with.

2. MOBILIZE THE NEW PROFESSIONAL networks and the old established volunteer organizations to save women's rights. We can't fight fundamentalist backlash with backward-looking feminist fundamentalism. Second-stage feminism is itself pluralistic, and has to use new pluralist strengths and strategies. The women who have been 30 and 40 percent of the graduating class from law school or business school and 47 percent of the journalism school classes, the ones who've taken women's studies, the women who grew up playing Little League baseball and cheered on those new champion women athletes, the new professional networksof women in every field, every woman who has been looking to those networks only to get ahead in her own field, must now use her professional skills to save the laws and executive orders against sex discrimination in education and employment. They must restore the enforcement machinery and the class-action suits that opened up all these opportunities to her in the first place.

The volunteer organizations, it became clear in Nairobi, have been given new goals and gumption and professional expertise by the women's movement. Let NOW heal its internal wounds and join with these other groups, as it did in the E.R.A. struggle, to face the current emergency, rather than indulge in wishful thinking about refighting the E.R.A. battle.

3. GET OFF THE PORNOG-raphy kick and face the real obscenity of poverty. No matter how repulsive we may find pornography, laws banning books or movies for sexually explicit content could be far more dangerous to women. The pornography issue is dividing the women's movement and giving the impression on college campuses that to be a feminist is to be against sex. More important, it is diverting energies that need to be spent saving the basic rights now being destroyed.

Karen DeCrow, who once was elected president of NOW on the slogan ''Out of the mainstream, into the revolution,'' wrote a recent article entitled ''Strange Bedfellows'' for Penthouse. She pointed out that the new feminist-supported proposals to make pornography an illegal violation of the civil rights of women have an unlooked-for effect. They aid the far right agenda that would also ban the teaching of evolution in schools, prohibit a woman's right to choose abortion, cut Government funding for textbooks that portray women in nontraditional roles, and repeal Federal statutes against spouse and child abuse.

What is behind some women's obsession with pornography? Women's sexuality has been distorted and suppressed in almost every society, we learned at Nairobi, and that suppression has gone hand in hand with a general attempt to deny women freedom to control their own lives, to move and earn independently in society. Pornography, and also the crusade to suppress pornography, reduce women to a single dimension, defining them as only passive sex objects, not people who can run their own lives.

But I think the secret this obsession with pornography may mask for women alone, for aging women, and for women still more economically dependent on men than they would like, is fear of poverty, which is the ultimate obscenity for Americans. I sat at a dinner table recently with several women, who I know are struggling personally with these problems, and could not believe their venom against the young rock star Madonna. I suggested that teen-agers identified with her gutsiness, strength and independence as well as with her not-at-all-passive sexuality, which to me was not a retreat from women's liberation, but a celebration of it. Whoever said that feminism shouldn't be sexy!

They were women in their 40's, 50's and 60's, and they virtually spat in disgust. Perhaps an unspoken reason so many women are protesting sexually explicit materials is that their own sexuality is denied by society. But I suspect that as long as sex is distorted by women's economic dependence, or fear of it, it can't be truly, freely enjoyed. The obscenity that not even many feminists want to confront in personal terms is the sheer degradation of being poor in opulent, upwardly mobile America. Of course, the women's movement in America, like all such revolutions everywhere, has been mainly a middle-class movement, but the shameful secret it has never really dealt with is the fact that more and more middle-class women are sinking into poverty.

America's first movement for women's rights died out after winning the vote, four generations ago, because women didn't tackle the hard political tasks of restructuring home and work so that women who married and had children could also earn and have their own voice in the decision-making mainstream of society. Instead, those women retreated behind a cultural curtain of female ''purity,'' focusing their energies on issues like prohibition, much like the pornographic obsession of some feminists today.

4. CONFRONT THE ILLU-sion of equality in divorce. Economists and feminists have been talking a lot lately about ''the feminization of poverty'' in theoretical terms, but the American women's movement has not developed concrete strategies that get at its root cause. It's not just a question of women earning less than men -though as long as women do not get equal pay for work of comparable value, or earn Social Security or pensions for taking care of children and home, they are both economically dependent on marriage and motherhood and pay a big economic price for it. And this is as true for divorced aging yuppies as for welfare mothers.

A startling new book by the sociologist Lenore J. Weitzman, ''The Divorce Revolution: The Unexpected Social and Economic Consequences for Women and Children in America,'' reveals that in the 1970's, when 48 states adopted ''no-fault'' divorce laws treating men and women ''equally'' in divorce settlements -laws feminists originally supported - divorced women and their children suffered an immediate 73 percent drop in their standard of living, while their ex-husbands enjoyed a 42 percent rise in theirs.

In dividing ''marital property,'' Lenore Weitzman reports, judges have systematically overlooked the major assets of many marriages -the husband's career assets that the wife helped make possible, his professional education that she may have helped support, the career on which he was able to concentrate because she ran the home, and his salary, pension, health insurance and earning power that resulted. They have also ignored the wife's years of unpaid housework and child care (not totally insured by Social Security in the event of divorce) and her drastically diminished job prospects after divorce. And, for most, the ''equal'' division of property means the forced sale of the family home - which used to be awarded to the wife and children. Child support, which has often been inadequate, unpaid and uncollectable, usually ends when the child is 18, just as college expenses begin. Thus the vicious cycle whereby an ever-increasing majority of the truly poor in America are families headed by women.

A new generation of feminist lawyers and judges has now drafted, and must get urgent grass-roots political support for, the kind of law needed, a law that treats marriage as a true economic partnership - and includes fairer standards of property division, maintenance and child support. It should be a law that does not penalize women who have chosen family over, or even together with, professional career.

5. RETURN THE ISSUE OF abortion to the matter of women's own responsible choice. I think feminists have been so traumatized by the fundamentalist crusade against abortion and all the talk of fetuses and when life begins that they are in danger of forgetting the values that made abortion a feminist issue in the first place. Underneath the hysteria, poll after poll shows that the great majority of women in this nation, and most men, still want to decide when and whether to have a child in accordance with their own conscience. This includes women of faith, including the majority of Catholic women. Attacks on the Pope and picketing the churches, as some desperate or deranged male and female abortion champions have lately proposed, would play right into the hands of our ''right to life'' enemies, who love to paint feminists as satanic opponents of God and family. We must not surrender family values and religious principles to the far right. Let the new women theologians and feminist women of faith in every church take on the fundamentalist preachers.

I think women who are young, and those not so young, today must be able to choose when to have a child, given the necessities of their jobs. They will indeed join their mothers, who remember the humiliations and dangers of back-street butcher abortions, in a march of millions to save the right of legal abortion. I certainly support a march for women's choice of birth control and legal aborion. NOW has called for one in the spring of 1986.

6. AFFIRM THE DIFFER-ences between men and women. New feminist thinking is required if American women are to continue advancing in man's world, as they must, to earn their way, and yet ''not become like men.'' This fear is heard with more and more frequency today from young women, including many who have succeeded, and some who have failed or opted out of male-defined careers. More books like Carol Gilligan's ''In a Different Voice'' and consciousness-raising sessions are needed. First-stage feminism denied real differences between women and men except for the sexual organs themselves. Some feminists still do not understand that true equality is not possible unless those differences between men and women are affirmed and until values based on female sensitivities to life begin to be voiced in every discipline and profession, from architecture to economics, where, until recently, all concepts and standards were defined by men. This is not a matter of abstract theory alone but involves the restructuring of hours of work and patterns of professional training so that they take into account the fact that women are the people who give birth to children. It must lead to concrete changes in medical practice, church worship, the writing of history, standards of ethics, even the design of homes and appliances.

7. BREAKTHROUGH FOR older women. The women's movement has never put serious energy into the job that must be done to get women adequately covered by Social Security and pensions, especially those women now reaching 65 who spent many years as housewives and are ending up alone. The need for more independent and shared housing for older women now living alone in suburban houses they can't afford to sell, or lonely furnished rooms - and the need for services and jobs or volunteer options that will enable them to keep on living independent, productive lives - has never been a part of the women's movement agenda. But that first generation of feminist mothers, women now in their 60's, is a powerful political resource for the movement as these women retire from late or early professional or volunteer careers. Women in their 50's and 60's are shown by the polls to be more firmly committed than their daughters to the feminist goals of equality. Let the women's movement lead the rest of society in breaking the spell of the youth cult and drawing on the still enormous energies and the wisdom that may come to some of us in age.

8. BRING IN THE MEN. IT'S passe, surely, for feminists now to see men only as the enemy, or to contemplate separatist models for emotional or economic survival. Feminist theorists like Barbara Ehrenreich cite dismal evidence of the ''new men'' opting out of family responsibilities altogether. But in my own life I seem to see more and more young men, and older ones - even former male chauvinist pigs - admitting their vulnerability and learning to express their tenderness, sharing the care of the kids, even though most of them may never share it equally with their wives.

And as men let down their masks of machismo, and admit their dependence on the women in their lives, women may admit a new need to depend on men, without fear of sinking back into the old abject subservience. After all, even women who insist they are not, and never will be, feminists have learned to defend themselves against real male brutality. Look at Charlotte Donahue Fedders, the wife of that Security and Exchange com-missioner, who testified in divorce court about his repeated abuse - his repeated beatings caused black eyes and a broken eardrum. At one time, a woman in her situation would have kept that shame a secret. The Reagan Administration had to ask him to resign, because wife-beating is no longer politically acceptable, even in conservative America in 1985.

I don't think women can, or should try to, take the responsibility for liberating men from the remnants of machismo. But there has to be a new way of asking what do men really want, to echo Freud, a new kind of dialogue that breaks through or gets behind both our masks. Women cannot restructure jobs or homes just by talking to themselves.

9. CONTINUE TO FIGHT for real political power. Although feminists do not now, and never really did, support a woman just because she is a woman, there is no substitute for having women in political offices that matter. But more women are discovering that they have to fight, as men do, in primaries where victory is not certain, and not just wait for an ''open seat.'' After the E.R.A.'s defeat, feminists and their supporters raised money nationally to run women candidates in virtually every district in Illinois, Florida and North Carolina where legislators voted against the amendment. And in that single election they increased sizably women's representation in those state legislatures.

10. MOVE BEYOND SIN-gle-issue thinking. Even today, I do not think women's rights are the most urgent business for American women. The important thing is somehow getting together with men who also put the values of life first to break through the paralysis that fundamentalist backlash has imposed on all our movements. It is not only feminism that is becoming a dirty word in America, but also liberalism, humanism, pluralism, environmentalism and civil liberties. The very freedom of political dissent that enabled the women's movement to start here has been made to seem unsafe for today's young men as well as young women. I think the yuppies are afraid to be political.

Women may have to think beyond ''women's issues'' to join their energies with men to redeem our democratic tradition and turn our nation's power to the interests of life instead of the nuclear arms race that is paralyzing it. I've never, for instance, seen the need for a separate women's peace movement. I'm not really sure that women, by nature, are more peace-loving than men. They were simply not brought up to express aggression the way men do (they took it out covertly, on themselves and on their men and children, psychologists would say). But the human race may not survive much longer unless women move beyond the nurture of their own babies and careers to politcial decisions of war and peace, and unless men who share the nurture of their children take responsibility for ending the arms race before it destroys all life. In that sense, I think the women's movement is only a particular moment in human evolution, and once its job is really done, then it can and should be allowed to fade away, honorably discharged.

5. Original NY Times review of 'The Feminine Mystique' -- by LUCY FREEMAN
Published: April 7, 1963

Millions of American women stand victim of "the feminine mystique," a philosophy that has convinced them that their only commitment is the fulfillment of a femininity found in "sexual passivity, male domination and nurturing maternal love." They are dangerous in that, unable to find their real selves, they feed emotionally on their children -- thus crippling them -- and are unable to satisfy their husbands because they cannot enjoy sex for sex's sake. They try to relieve their feelings of depression and emptiness by seeking "strained glamor." They have won the battle for suffrage but little else. This is the damning indictment levelled by Betty Friedan in her highly readable, provocative book.

The core of her thesis is that woman's problem today is not sexual but a problem of identity. "Our culture does not permit women to accept or gratify their basic need to grow and fulfill their potentialities as human beings, a need which is not solely defined by their sexual role."

Sweeping generalities, in which this book necessarily abounds, may hold a certain amount of truth but often obscure the deeper issues. It is superficial to blame the "culture" and its handmaidens, the women's magazines, as she does. What is to stop a woman who is interested in national and international affairs from reading magazines that deal with those subjects? To paraphrase a famous line, "The fault, dear Mrs. Friedan, is not in our culture, but in ourselves."

6. The Feminine Mystique: Chapter 1: "The Problem that Has No Name" – by Betty Friedan

The problem lay buried, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American women. It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning that women suffered in the middle of the twentieth century in the United States. Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night--she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question--"Is this all?"

For over fifteen years there was no word of this yearning in the millions of words written about women, for women, in all the columns, books and articles by experts telling women their role was to seek fulfillment as wives and mothers. Over and over women heard in voices of tradition and of Freudian sophistication that they could desire--no greater destiny than to glory in their own femininity. Experts told them how to catch a man and keep him, how to breastfeed children and handle their toilet training, how to cope with sibling rivalry and adolescent rebellion; how to buy a dishwasher, bake bread, cook gourmet snails, and build a swimming pool with their own hands; how to dress, look, and act more feminine and make marriage more exciting; how to keep their husbands from dying young and their sons from growing into delinquents. They were taught to pity the neurotic, unfeminine, unhappy women who wanted to be poets or physicists or presidents. They learned that truly feminine women do not want careers, higher education, political rights--the independence and the opportunities that the old-fashioned feminists fought for. Some women, in their forties and fifties, still remembered painfully giving up those dreams, but most of the younger women no longer even thought about them. A thousand expert voices applauded their femininity, their adjustment, their new maturity. All they had to do was devote their lives from earliest girlhood to finding a husband and bearing children.

By the end of the nineteen-fifties, the average marriage age of women in America dropped to 20, and was still dropping, into the teens. Fourteen million girls were engaged by 17. The proportion of women attending college in comparison with men dropped fro m 47 per cent in 1920 to 35 per cent in 1958. A century earlier, women had fought for higher education; now girls went to college to get a husband. By the mid-fifties, 60 per cent dropped out of college to marry, or because they were afraid too much education would be a marriage bar. Colleges built dormitories for "married students," but the students were almost always the husbands. A new degree was instituted for the wives--"Ph.T." (Putting Husband Through).

Then American girls began getting married in high school. And the women's magazines, deploring the unhappy statistics about these young marriages, urged that courses on marriage, and marriage counselors, be installed in the high schools. Girls started going steady at twelve and thirteen, in junior high. Manufacturers put out brassieres with false bosoms of foam rubber for little girls of ten. And on advertisement for a child's dress, sizes 3-6x, in the New York Times in the fall of 1960, said: "She Too Can Join the Man-Trap Set."

By the end of the fifties, the United States birthrate was overtaking India's. The birth-control movement, renamed Planned Parenthood, was asked to find a method whereby women who had been advised that a third or fourth baby would be born dead or defective might have it anyhow. Statisticians were especially astounded at the fantastic increase in the number of babies among college women. Where once they had two children, now they had four, five, six. Women who had once wanted careers were now making careers out of having babies. So rejoiced Life magazine in a 1956 paean to the movement of American women back to the home.

In a New York hospital, a woman had a nervous breakdown when she found she could not breastfeed her baby. In other hospitals, women dying of cancer refused a drug which research had proved might save their lives: its side effects were said to be unfeminine. "If I have only one life, let me live it as a blonde," a larger-than-life- sized picture of a pretty, vacuous woman proclaimed from newspaper, magazine, and drugstore ads. And across America, three out of every ten women dyed their hair blonde. They ate a chalk called Metrecal, instead of food, to shrink to the size of the thin young models. Department-store buyers reported that American women, since 1939, had become three and four sizes smaller. "Women are out to fit the clothes, instead of vice-versa," one buyer said.

Interior decorators were designing kitchens with mosaic murals and original paintings, for kitchens were once again the center of women's lives. Home sewing became a million-dollar industry. Many women no longer left their homes, except to shop, chauffeur their children, or attend a social engagement with their husbands. Girls were growing up in America without ever having jobs outside the home. In the late fifties, a sociological phenomenon was suddenly remarked: a third of American women now worked, but most were no longer young and very few were pursuing careers. They were married women who held part-time jobs, selling or secretarial, to put their husbands through school, their sons through college, or to help pay
the mortgage. Or they were widows supporting families. Fewer and fewer women were entering professional work. The shortages in the nursing, social work, and teaching professions caused crises in almost every American city. Concerned over the Soviet Union's lead in the space race, scientists noted that America's greatest source of unused brain-power was women. But girls would not study physics: it was "unfeminine." A girl refused a science fellowship at Johns Hopkins to take a job in a real-estate office. All she wanted, she said, was what every other American girl wanted--to get married, have four children and live in a nice house in a nice suburb.

The suburban housewife--she was the dream image of the young American women and the envy, it was said, of women all over the world. The American housewife--freed by science and labor-saving appliances from the drudgery, the dangers of childbirth and the illnesses of her grandmother. She was healthy, beautiful, educated, concerned only about her husband, her children, her home. She had found true feminine fulfillment. As a housewife and mother, she was respected as a full and equal partner to man in his world. She was free to choose automobiles, clothes, appliances, supermarkets; she had everything that women ever dreamed of.

In the fifteen years after World War II, this mystique of feminine fulfillment became the cherished and self-perpetuating core of contemporary American culture. Millions of women lived their lives in the image of those pretty pictures of the American suburban housewife, kissing their husbands goodbye in front of the picture window, depositing their stationwagonsful of children at school, and smiling as they ran the new electric waxer over the spotless kitchen floor. They baked their own bread, sewed their own and their children's clothes, kept their new washing machines and dryers running all day. They changed the sheets on the beds twice a week instead of once, took the rughoolag class in adult education, and pitied their poor frustrated mothers, who had dreamed of having a career. Their only dream was to be perfect wives and mothers; their highest ambition to have five children and a beautiful house, their only fight to get and keep their husbands. They had no thought for the unfeminine problems of the world outside the home; they wanted the men to make the major decisions. They gloried in their role as women, and wrote proudly on the census blank: "Occupation: housewife."

For over fifteen years, the words written for women, and the words women used when they talked to each other, while their husbands sat on the other side of the room and talked shop or politics or septic tanks, were about problems with their children, or how to keep their husbands happy, or improve their children's school, or cook chicken or make slipcovers. Nobody argued whether women were inferior or superior to men; they were simply different. Words like "emancipation" and "career" sounded strange and embarrassing; no one had used them for years. When a Frenchwoman named Simone de Beauvoir wrote a book called The Second Sex, an American critic commented that she obviously "didn't know what life was all about," and besides, she was talking about French women. The "woman problem" in America no longer existed.

If a woman had a problem in the 1950's and 1960's, she knew that something must be wrong with her marriage, or with herself. Other women were satisfied with their lives, she thought. What kind of a woman was she if she did not feel this mysterious fulfillment waxing the kitchen floor? She was so ashamed to admit her dissatisfaction that she never knew how many other women shared it. If she tried to tell her husband, he didn't understand what she was talking about. She did not really understand it herself.

For over fifteen years women in America found it harder to talk about the problem than about sex. Even the psychoanalysts had no name for it. When a woman went to a psychiatrist for help, as many women did, she would say, "I'm so ashamed," or "I must be hopelessly neurotic." "I don't know what's wrong with women today," a suburban psychiatrist said uneasily. "I only know something is wrong because most of my patients happen to be women. And their problem isn't sexual." Most women with this problem did not go to see a psychoanalyst, however. "There's nothing wrong really," they kept telling themselves, "There isn't any problem."

But on an April morning in 1959, I heard a mother of four, having coffee with four other mothers in a suburban development fifteen miles from New York, say in a tone of quiet desperation, "the problem." And the others knew, without words, that she was not talking about a problem with her husband, or her children, or her home. Suddenly they realized they all shared the same problem, the problem that has no name. They began, hesitantly, to talk about it. Later, after they had picked up their children at nursery school and taken them home to nap, two of the women cried, in sheer relief, just to know they were not alone.

Gradually I came to realize that the problem that has no name was shared by countless women in America. As a magazine writer I often interviewed women about problems with their children, or their marriages, or their houses, or their communities. But after a while I began to recognize the telltale signs of this other problem. I saw the same signs in suburban ranch houses and split-levels on Long Island and in New Jersey and Westchester County; in colonial houses in a small Massachusetts town; on patios in Memphis; in suburban and city apartments; in living rooms in the Midwest. Sometimes I sensed the problem, not as a reporter, but as a suburban housewife, for during this time I was also bringing up my own three children in Rockland County, New York. I heard echoes of the problem in college dormitories and semiprivate maternity wards, at PTA meetings and luncheons of the League of Women Voters, at suburban cocktail parties, in station wagons waiting for trains, and in snatches of conversation overheard at Schrafft's. The groping words I heard from other women, on quiet afternoons when children were at school or on quiet evenings when husbands worked late, I think I understood first as a woman long before I understood their larger social and psychological implications.

Just what was this problem that has no name? What were the words women used when they tried to express it? Sometimes a woman would say "I feel empty somehow . . . incomplete." Or she would say, "I feel as if I don't exist." Sometimes she blotted out the feeling with a tranquilizer. Sometimes she thought the problem was with her husband or her children, or that what she really needed was to redecorate her house, or move to a better neighborhood, or have an affair, or another baby. Sometimes, she went to a doctor with symptoms she could hardly describe: "A tired feeling. . . I get so angry with the children it scares me . . . I feel like crying without any reason." (A Cleveland doctor called it "the housewife's syndrome.") A number of women told me about great bleeding blisters that break out on their hands and arms. "I call it the house wife's blight" said a family doctor in Pennsylvania. "I see it so often lately in these young women with four, five and six children who bury themselves in their dishpans. But it isn't caused by detergent and it isn't cured by cortisone."

Sometimes a woman would tell me that the feeling gets so strong she runs out of the house and walks through the streets. Or she stays inside her house and cries. Or her children tell her a joke, and she doesn't laugh because she doesn't hear it. I talked to women who had spent years on the analyst's couch, working out their "adjustment to the feminine role," their blocks to "fulfillment as a wife and mother." But the desperate tone in these women's voices, and the look in their eyes, was the same as the tone and the look of other women, who were sure they had no problem, even though they did have a strange feeling of desperation.

A mother of four who left college at nineteen to get married told me:

I've tried everything women are supposed to do--hobbies, gardening, pickling, canning, being very social with my neighbors, joining committees, running PTA teas. I can do it all, and I like it, but it doesn't leave you anything to think about--any feeling of who you are. I never had any career ambitions. All I wanted was to get married and have four children. I love the kids and Bob and my home. There's no problem you can even put a name to. But I'm desperate. I begin to feel I have no personality. I'm a server of food and putter-on of pants and a bed maker, somebody who can be called on when you want something. But who am I?

A twenty-three-year-old mother in blue jeans said:

I ask myself why I'm so dissatisfied. I've got my health, fine children, a lovely new home, enough money. My husband has a real future as an electronics engineer. He doesn't have any of these feelings. He says maybe I need a vacation, let's go to New York for a weekend. But that isn't it. I always had this idea we should do everything together. I can't sit down and read a book alone. If the children are napping and I have one hour to myself I just walk through the house waiting for them to wake up. I don't make a move until I know where the rest of the crowd is going. It's as if ever since you were a little girl, there's always been somebody or something that will take care of your life: your parents, or college, or falling in love, or having a child, or moving to a new house. Then you wake up one morning and there's nothing to look forward to.

A young wife in a Long Island development said:

I seem to sleep so much. I don't know why I should be so tired. This house isn't nearly so hard to clean as the cold-water Hat we had when I was working. The children are at school all day. It's not the work. I just don't feel alive.

In 1960, the problem that has no name burst like a boil through the image of the happy American housewife. In the television commercials the pretty housewives still beamed over their foaming dishpans and Time's cover story on "The Suburban Wife, an American Phenomenon" protested: "Having too good a time . . . to believe that they should be unhappy." But the actual unhappiness of the American housewife was suddenly being reported--from the New York Times and Newsweek to Good Housekeeping and CBS Television ("The Trapped Housewife"), although almost everybody who talked about it found some superficial reason to dismiss it. It was attributed to incompetent appliance repairmen (New York Times), or the distances children must be chauffeured in the suburbs (Time), or too much PTA (Redbook). Some said it was the old problem--education: more and more women had education, which naturally made them unhappy in their role as housewives. "The road from Freud to Frigidaire, from Sophocles to Spock, has turned out to be a bumpy one," reported the New York Times (June 28,1960). "Many young women--certainly not all--whose education plunged them into a world of ideas feel stifled in their homes. They find their routine lives out of joint with their training. Like shut-ins, they feel left out. In the last year, the problem of the educated housewife has provided the meat of dozens of speeches made by troubled presidents of women's colleges who maintain, in the face of complaints, that sixteen years of academic training is realistic preparation for wifehood and motherhood."

There was much sympathy for the educated housewife. ("Like a two-headed schizophrenic . . . once she wrote a paper on the Graveyard poets; now she writes notes to the milkman. Once she determined the boiling point of sulphuric acid; now she determine s her boiling point with the overdue repairman....The housewife often is reduced to screams and tears.... No one, it seems, is appreciative, least of all herself, of the kind of person she becomes in the process of turning from poetess into shrew.")

Home economists suggested more realistic preparation for housewives, such as high-school workshops in home appliances. College educators suggested more discussion groups on home management and the family, to prepare women for the adjustment to domestic life. A spate of articles appeared in the mass magazines offering "Fifty-eight Ways to Make Your Marriage More Exciting." No month went by without a new book by a psychiatrist or sexologist offering technical advice on finding greater fulfillment through sex.

A male humorist joked in Harper's Bazaar (July, 1960) that the problem could be solved by taking away woman's right to vote. ("In the pre-19th Amendment era, the American woman was placid, sheltered and sure of her role in American society. She left all the political decisions to her husband and he, in turn, left all the family decisions to her. Today a woman has to make both the family and the political decisions, and it's too much for her.")

A number of educators suggested seriously that women no longer be admitted to the four-year colleges and universities: in the growing college crisis, the education which girls could not use as housewives was more urgently needed than ever by boys to do the work of the atomic age.

The problem was also dismissed with drastic solutions no one could take seriously,. (A woman writer proposed in Harper's that women be drafted for compulsory service as nurses' aides and baby-sitters.) And it was smoothed over with the age-old panaceas: "love is their answer," "the only answer is inner help," "the secret of completeness--children," "a private means of intellectual fulfillment," "to cure this toothache of the spirit--the simple formula of handling one's self and one's will over to God."1

The problem was dismissed by telling the housewife she doesn't realize how lucky she is--her own boss, no time clock, no junior executive gunning for her job. What if she isn't happy--does she think men are happy in this world? Does she really, secretly, still want to be a man? Doesn't she know yet how lucky she is to be a woman?

The problem was also, and finally, dismissed by shrugging that there are NO solutions: this is what being a woman means, and what is wrong with American women that they can't accept their role gracefully? As Newsweek put it (March 7, 1960):

She is dissatisfied with a lot that women of other lands can only dream of. Her discontent is deep, pervasive, and impervious to the superficial remedies which are offered at every hand.... An army of professional explorers have already charted the major sources of trouble.... From the beginning of time, the female cycle has defined and confined woman's role. As Freud was credited with saying: "Anatomy is destiny." Though no group of women has ever pushed these natural restrictions as far as the American wife, it seems that she still cannot accept them with good grace.... A young mother with a beautiful family, charm, talent and brains is apt to dismiss her role apologetically. "What do I do?" you hear her say. Why nothing. I'm just a housewife." A good education, it seems, has given this paragon among women an understanding of the value of everything except her own worth. . .

And so she must accept the fact that "American women's unhappiness is merely the most recently won of women's rights," and adjust and say with the happy housewife found by Newsweek: "We ought to salute the wonderful freedom we all have and be proud of our lives today. I have had college and I've worked, but being a housewife is the most rewarding and satisfying role.... My mother was never included in my father's business affairs. . . she couldn't get out of the house and away from us children. But I am an equal to my husband; I can go along with him on business trips and to social business affairs."

The alternative offered was a choice that few women would contemplate. In the sympathetic words of the New York Times: "All admit to being deeply frustrated at times by the lack of privacy, the physical burden, the routine of family life, the confinement of it. However, none would give up her home and family if she had the choice to make again." Redbook commented: "Few women would want to thumb their noses at husbands, children and community and go off on their own. Those who do may be talented individuals, but they rarely are successful women."

The year American women's discontent boiled over, it was also reported (Look) that the more than 21,000,000 American women who are single, widowed, or divorced do not cease even after fifty their frenzied, desperate search for a man. And the search begins early--for seventy per cent of all American women now marry before they are twenty-four. A pretty twenty-five-year-old secretary took thirty-five different jobs in six months in the futile hope of finding a husband. Women were moving from one political club to another, taking evening courses in accounting or sailing, learning to play golf or ski, joining a number of churches in succession, going to bars alone, in their ceaseless search for a man.

Of the growing thousands of women currently getting private psychiatric help in the United States, the married ones were reported dissatisfied with their marriages, the unmarried ones suffering from anxiety and, finally, depression. Strangely, a number of psychiatrists stated that, in their experience, unmarried women patients were happier than married ones. So the door of all those pretty suburban houses opened a crack to permit a glimpse of uncounted thousands of American housewives who suffered alone from a problem that suddenly everyone was talking about, and beginning to take for granted, as one of those unreal problems in American life that can never be solved-like the hydrogen bomb. By 1962 the plight of the trapped American housewife had become a national parlor game. Whole issues of magazines, newspaper columns, books learned and frivolous, educational conferences and television panels were devoted to the problem.

Even so, most men, and some women, still did not know that this problem was real. But those who had faced it honestly knew that all the superficial remedies, the sympathetic advice, the scolding words and the cheering words were somehow drowning the problem in unreality. A bitter laugh was beginning to be heard from American women. They were admired, envied, pitied, theorized over until they were sick of it, offered drastic solutions or silly choices that no one could take seriously. They got all kinds of advice from the growing armies of marriage and child-guidance counselors, psychotherapists, and armchair psychologists, on how to adjust to their role as housewives. No other road to fulfillment was offered to American women in the middle of the twentieth century. Most adjusted to their role and suffered or ignored the problem that has no name. It can be less painful for a woman, not to hear the strange, dissatisfied voice stirring within her.

It is NO longer possible to ignore that voice, to dismiss the desperation of so many American women. This is not what being a woman means, no matter what the experts say. For human suffering there is a reason; perhaps the reason has not been found because the right questions have not been asked, or pressed far enough. I do not accept the answer that there is no problem because American women have luxuries that women in other times and lands never dreamed of; part of the strange newness of the problem is that it cannot be understood in terms of the age-old material problems of man: poverty, sickness, hunger, cold. The women who suffer this problem have a hunger that food cannot fill. It persists in women whose husbands are struggling intern and law clerks, or prosperous doctors and lawyers; in wives of workers and executives who make $5,000 a year or $50,000. It is not caused by lack of material advantages; it may not even be felt by women preoccupied with desperate problems of hunger, poverty or illness. And women who think it will be solved by more money, a bigger house, a second car, moving to a better suburb, often discover it gets worse.

It is no longer possible today to blame the problem on loss of femininity: to say that education and independence and equality with men have made American women unfeminine. I have heard so many women try to deny this dissatisfied voice within themselves because it does not fit the pretty picture of femininity the experts have given them. I think, in fact, that this is the first clue to the mystery; the problem cannot be understood in the generally accepted terms by which scientists have studied women, doctors have treated them, counselors have advised them, and writers have written about them. Women who suffer this problem, in whom this voice is stirring, have lived their whole lives in the pursuit of feminine fulfillment. They are not career women (although career women may have other problems); they are women whose greatest ambition has been marriage and children. For the oldest of these women, these daughters of the American middle class, no other dream was possible. The ones in their forties and fifties who once had other dreams gave them up and threw themselves joyously into life as housewives. For the youngest, the new wives and mothers, this was the only dream. They are the ones who quit high school and college to marry, or marked time in some job in which they had no real interest until they married. These women are very "feminine" in the usual sense, and yet they still suffer the problem.

Are the women who finished college, the women who once had dreams beyond housewifery, the ones who suffer the most? According to the experts they are, but listen to these four women:

My days are all busy, and dull, too. All I ever do is mess around. I get up at eight--I make breakfast, so I do the dishes, have lunch, do some more dishes, and some laundry and cleaning in the afternoon. Then it's supper dishes and I get to sit down a few minutes, before the children have to be sent to bed. . . That's all there is to my day. It's just like any other wife's day. Humdrum. The biggest time, I am chasing kids.

Ye Gods, what do I do with my time? Well, I get up at six. I get my son dressed and then give him breakfast. After that I wash dishes and bathe and feed the baby. Then I get lunch and while the children nap, I sew or mend or iron and do all the other things I can't get done before noon. Then I cook supper for the family and my husband watches TV while I do the dishes. After I get the children to bed, I set my hair and then I go to bed.

The problem is always being the children's mommy, or the minister's wife and never being myself.

A film made of any typical morning in my house would look like an old Marx Brothers' comedy. I wash the dishes, rush the older children off to school, dash out in the yard to cultivate the chrysanthemums, run back in to make a phone call about a committee meeting, help the youngest child build a blockhouse, spend fifteen minutes skimming the newspapers so I can be well-informed, then scamper down to the washing machines where my thrice-weekly laundry includes enough clothes to keep a primitive village going for an entire year. By noon I'm ready for a padded cell. Very little of what I've done has been really necessary or important. Outside pressures lash me through the day. Yet I look upon myself as one of the more relaxed housewives in the neighborhood. Many of my friends are even more frantic In the past sixty years we have come full circle and the American housewife is once again trapped in a squirrel cage. If the cage is now a modern plateglass -and-broadloom ranch house or a convenient modern apartment, the situation is no less painful than when her grandmother sat over an embroidery hoop in her gilt-end-plush parlor and muttered angrily about women's rights.

The first two women never went to college. They live in developments in Levittown, New Jersey, and Tacoma, Washington, and were interviewed by a team of sociologists studying workingmen's wives. 2 The third, a minister's wife, wrote on the fifteenth reunion questionnaire of her college that she never had any career ambitions, but wishes now she had. The fourth, who has a Ph.D. in anthropology, is today a Nebraska housewife with three children.. Their words seem to indicate that housewives of all educational levels suffer the same feeling of desperation.

The fact is that NO one today is muttering angrily about "women's rights," even though more and more women have gone to college. In a recent study of all the classes that have graduated from Barnard College, a significant minority of earlier graduates blamed their education for making them want "rights," later classes blamed their education far giving them career dreams, but recent graduates blamed the college for making them feel it was not enough simply to be a housewife and mother; they did not want to feel guilty if they did not read books or take part in community activities. But if education is not the cause of the problem, the fact that education somehow festers in these women may be a due.

If the secret of feminine fulfillment is having children, never have many women, with the freedom to choose, had so many children in so few years, so willingly. If the answer is love, never have women marched for love with such determination. And yet there is a growing suspicion that the problem may not be sexual, though it must somehow relate to sex. I have heard from many doctors evidence of new sexual problems between man and wife--sexual hunger in wives so that their husbands cannot satisfy it. "We have made women a sex attire," said a psychiatrist at the Margaret Sanger marriage counseling clinic. "She has no identity except as a wife and mother. She does know who she is herself. She waits all day for her husband to come home at night to make her feel alive. And now it is the husband who is interested. It is terrible for the women, to lie there, night after night, tiny for her husband to make her feel alive." Why is there such a market for books and articles offering sexual advice? The kind of sexual orgasm which Kinsey found in statistical plenitude in the recent generations of American women does not seem to make this problem go away.

On the contrary, new neuroses are being seen among women--and problems as yet unnamed as neuroses--which Freud and his followers did not predict, with physical symptoms, anxieties, and defense mechanisms equal to those caused by sexual repression. And strange new problems are being reported in the growing generations of children whose mothers were always there, driving them around, helping them with their homework--an inability to endure pain or discipline or pursue any self-sustained goal of any sort, a devastating boredom with life. Educators are increasingly uneasy about the dependence, the lack of self-reliance, of the boys and girls who are entering college today. "We fight a continual battle to make our students assume manhood," said a Columbia dean.

A White House conference was held on the physical and muscular deterioration of American children: were they being over-nurtured? Sociologists noted the astounding organization of suburban children's lives: the lessons, parties, entertainments, play and study groups organized for them. A suburban housewife in Portland, Oregon, wondered why the children "need" Brownies and Boy Scouts out here. "This is not the slums. The kids out here have the great outdoors. I think people are so bored. they organize the children, and then try to hook ever' one else on it. And the poor kids have no time left just to lie on their beds and daydream."

Can the problem that has no name be somehow related to the domesroutine of the housewife? When a woman tries to put the problem into words, she often merely describes the daily life she leads. What is there in this recital of comfortable domestic detail that could possibly cause such a feeling of desperation? Is she trapped simply by the enormous demands of her role as modern housewife: wife, mistress, mother, nurse, consumer, cook, chauffeur, expert on interior decoration child care, appliance repair, furniture refinishing, nutrition, and education? Her day is fragmented as she rushes from dishwasher to washing machine to telephone to dryer to station wagon to supermarket, and delivers Johnny to the Little League field, takes Janey to dancing class, gets the lawnmower fixed and meets the 6:45. She can never spend more than 15 minutes on any one thing; she has no time to read books, only magazines; even if she had time, she has lost the power to concentrate. At the end of the day, she is so terribly tired that sometimes her husband has to take over and put the children to bed.

Thus terrible tiredness took so many women to doctors in the 1950's that one decided to investigate it. He found, surprisingly, that his patients suffering from "housewife's fatigue' slept more than an adult needed to sleep -as much as ten hours a day- and that the actual energy they expended on housework did not tax their capacity. The real problem must be something else, he decided-perhaps boredom. Some doctors told their women patients they must get out of the house for a day, treat themselves to a movie in town. Others prescribed tranquilizers. Many suburban housewives were taking tranquilizers like cough drops. You wake up in the morning, and you feel as if there's no point in going on another day like this. So you take a tranquilizer because it makes you not care so much that it's pointless."

It is easy to see the concrete details that trap the suburban housewife, the continual demands on her time. But the chains that bind her in her trap are chains in her own mind and spirit. They are chains made up of mistaken ideas and misinterpreted facts, of incomplete truths and unreal choices. They are not easily seen and not easily shaken off.

How can any woman see the whole truth within the bounds of her own life? How can she believe that voice inside herself, when it denies the conventional, accepted truths by which she has been living? And yet the women I have talked to, who are finally listening to that inner voice, seem in some incredible way to be groping through to a truth that has defied the experts.

I think the experts in a great many fields have been holding pieces of that truth under their microscopes for a long time without realizing it. I found pieces of it in certain new research and theoretical developments in psychological, social and biological science whose implications for women seem never to have been examined. I found many clues by talking to suburban doctors, gynecologists, obstetricians, child-guidance clinicians, pediatricians, high-school guidance counselors, college professors, marriage counselors, psychiatrists and ministers-questioning them not on their theories, but on their actual experience in treating American women. I became aware of a growing body of evidence, much of which has not been reported publicly because it does not fit current modes of thought about women--evidence which throws into question the standards of feminine normality, feminine adjustment, feminine fulfillment, and feminine maturity by which most women are still trying to live.

I began to see in a strange new light the American return to early marriage and the large families that are causing the population explosion; the recent movement to natural childbirth and breastfeeding; suburban conformity, and the new neuroses, character pathologies and sexual problems being reported by the doctors. I began to see new dimensions to old problems that have long been taken for granted among women: menstrual difficulties, sexual frigidity, promiscuity, pregnancy fears, childbirth depression, the high incidence of emotional breakdown and suicide among women in their twenties and thirties, the menopause crises, the so-called passivity and immaturity of American men, the discrepancy between women's tested intellectual abilities in childhood and their adult achievement, the changing incidence of adult sexual orgasm in American women, and persistent problems in psychotherapy and in women's education.

If I am right, the problem that has no name stirring in the minds of so many American women today is not a matter of loss of femininity or too much education, or the demands of domesticity. It is far more important than anyone recognizes. It is the key to these other new and old problems which have been torturing women and their husbands and children, and puzzling their doctors and educators for years. It may well be the key to our future as a nation and a culture. We can no longer ignore that voice within women that says: "I want something more than my husband and my children and my home."

7. Betty Friedan, Who Ignited Cause in 'Feminine Mystique,' Dies at 85 – by MARGALIT FOX

Betty Friedan, the feminist crusader and author whose searing first book, "The Feminine Mystique," ignited the contemporary women's movement in 1963 and as a result permanently transformed the social fabric of the United States and countries around the world, died yesterday, her 85th birthday, at her home in Washington.

The cause was congestive heart failure, said Emily Bazelon, a family spokeswoman.

With its impassioned yet clear-eyed analysis of the issues that affected women's lives in the decades after World War II — including enforced domesticity, limited career prospects and, as chronicled in later editions, the campaign for legalized abortion — "The Feminine Mystique" is widely regarded as one of the most influential nonfiction books of the 20th century. Published by W. W. Norton & Company, the book had sold more than three million copies by the year 2000 and has been translated into many languages.

"The Feminine Mystique" made Ms. Friedan world famous. It also made her one of the chief architects of the women's liberation movement of the late 1960's and afterward, a sweeping social upheaval that harked back to the suffrage campaigns of the turn of the century and would be called feminism's second wave.

In 1966, Ms. Friedan helped found the National Organization for Women, serving as its first president. In 1969, she was a founder of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, now known as Naral Pro-Choice America. With Gloria Steinem , Bella Abzug and others, she founded the National Women's Political Caucus in 1971.

Though in later years, some feminists dismissed Ms. Friedan's work as outmoded, a great many aspects of modern life that seem routine today — from unisex Help Wanted ads to women in politics, medicine, the clergy and the military — are the direct result of the hard-won advances she helped women attain.

For decades a familiar presence on television and the lecture circuit, Ms. Friedan, with her short stature and deeply hooded eyes, looked for much of her adult life like a "combination of Hermione Gingold and Bette Davis," as Judy Klemesrud wrote in The New York Times Magazine in 1970.

A brilliant student who graduated summa cum laude from Smith College in 1942, Ms. Friedan trained as a psychologist but never pursued a career in the field. When she wrote "The Feminine Mystique," she was a suburban housewife and mother who supplemented her husband's income by writing freelance articles for women's magazines.

Though Ms. Friedan was not generally considered a lyrical stylist, "The Feminine Mystique," read today, is as mesmerizing as it was more than four decades ago:

"Gradually, without seeing it clearly for quite a while, I came to realize that something is very wrong with the way American women are trying to live their lives today," Ms. Friedan wrote in the opening line of the preface. "I sensed it first as a question mark in my own life, as a wife and mother of three small children, half-guiltily, and therefore half-heartedly, almost in spite of myself, using my abilities and education in work that took me away from home." [ Excerpt From 'The Feminine Mystique' ]

The words have the hypnotic pull of a fairy tale, and for the next 400 pages, Ms. Friedan identifies, dissects and damningly indicts one of the most pervasive folk beliefs of postwar American life: the myth of suburban women's domestic fulfillment she came to call the feminine mystique.

Drawing on history, psychology, sociology and economics, as well as on interviews she conducted with women across the country, Ms. Friedan charted a gradual metamorphosis of the American woman from the independent, career-minded New Woman of the 1920's and 30's into the vacant, aproned housewife of the postwar years.

The portrait she painted was chilling. For a typical woman of the 1950's, even a college-educated one, life centered almost exclusively on chores and children. She cooked and baked and bandaged and chauffeured and laundered and sewed. She did the mopping and the marketing and took her husband's gray flannel suit to the cleaners. She was happy to keep his dinner warm till he came wearily home from downtown.

The life she led, if educators, psychologists and the mass media were to be believed, was the fulfillment of every women's most ardent dream. Yet she was unaccountably tired, impatient with the children, craving something that neither marital sex nor extramarital affairs could satisfy. Her thoughts sometimes turned to suicide. She consulted a spate of doctors and psychiatrists, who prescribed charity work, bowling and bridge. If those failed, there were always tranquilizers to get her through her busy day.

A Nebraska housewife with a Ph.D. in anthropology whom Ms. Friedan interviewed told her:

"A film made of any typical morning in my house would look like an old Marx Brothers comedy. I wash the dishes, rush the older children off to school, dash out in the yard to cultivate the chrysanthemums, run back in to make a phone call about a committee meeting, help the youngest child build a blockhouse, spend fifteen minutes skimming the newspapers so I can be well-informed, then scamper down to the washing machines where my thrice-weekly laundry includes enough clothes to keep a primitive village going for an entire year. By noon I'm ready for a padded cell. Very little of what I've done has been really necessary or important. Outside pressures lash me though the day. Yet I look upon myself as one of the more relaxed housewives in the neighborhood."

"The Feminine Mystique" began as a survey Ms. Friedan conducted in 1957 for the 15th reunion of her graduating class at Smith. It was intended to refute a prevailing postwar myth: that higher education kept women from adapting to their roles as wives and mothers. Judging from her own capable life, Ms. Friedan expected her classmates to describe theirs as similarly well adjusted. But what she discovered in the women's responses was something far more complex, and more troubling — a "nameless, aching dissatisfaction" that she would famously call "the problem that has no name."

When Ms. Friedan sent the same questionnaire to graduates of Radcliffe and other colleges, and later interviewed scores of women personally, the results were the same. The women's answers gave her the seeds of her book. They also forced her to confront the painful limitations of her own suburban idyll.

Bettye Naomi Goldstein was born on Feb. 4, 1921, in Peoria, Ill. Her father, Harry, was an immigrant from Russia who parlayed a street-corner collar-button business into a prosperous downtown jewelry store. Her gifted, imperious mother, Miriam, had been the editor of the women's page of the local newspaper before giving up her job for marriage and children. Only years later, when she was writing "The Feminine Mystique," did Ms. Friedan come to see her mother's cold, critical demeanor as masking a deep bitterness at giving up the work she loved.

Growing up brainy, Jewish, outspoken and, by the standards of the time, unlovely, Bettye was ostracized. She was barred from the fashionable sororities at her Peoria high school and rarely asked on dates. It was an experience, she would later say, that made her identify with people on the margins of society.

At Smith, she blossomed. For the first time, she could be as smart as she wanted, as impassioned as she wanted and as loud as she wanted, and for four happy years she was all those things. Betty received her bachelor's degree in 1942 — by that time she had dropped the final "e," which she considered an affectation of her mother's — and accepted a fellowship to the University of California, Berkeley, for graduate work in psychology.

At Berkeley, she studied with the renowned psychologist Erik Erikson, among others. She won a second fellowship, even more prestigious than the first, that would allow her to continue for a doctorate. But she was dating a young physicist who felt threatened by her success. He pressured her to turn down the fellowship, and she did, an experience she would later recount frequently in interviews. She also turned down the physicist, returning home to Peoria before moving to Greenwich Village in New York.

There, Ms. Friedan worked as an editor at The Federated Press, a small news service that provided stories to labor newspapers nationwide. In 1946, she took a job as a reporter with U. E. News, the weekly publication of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America.

In 1947, she married Carl Friedan, a theater director who later became an advertising executive. They started a family and moved to a rambling Victorian house in suburban Rockland County, N.Y.

Ms. Friedan, whose marriage would end in divorce in 1969, is survived by their three children, Daniel Friedan of Princeton, N.J.; Emily Friedan of Buffalo; and Jonathan Friedan of Philadelphia; a brother, Harry Goldstein, of Palm Springs, Calif., and Purchase, N.Y.; a sister, Amy Adams, of New York City; and nine grandchildren.

"The Feminine Mystique" had the misfortune to appear during a newspaper printers' strike. The reviews that appeared afterward ran the gamut from bewildered to outraged to cautiously laudatory. Some critics also felt that Ms. Friedan had insufficiently acknowledged her debt to Simone de Beauvoir, whose 1949 book, "The Second Sex," dealt with many of the same issues.

Writing in The New York Times Book Review in April 1963, Lucy Freeman called "The Feminine Mystique" a "highly readable, provocative book," but went on to question its basic premise, writing, of Ms. Friedan:

"Sweeping generalities, in which this book necessarily abounds, may hold a certain amount of truth but often obscure the deeper issues. It is superficial to blame the 'culture' and its handmaidens, the women's magazines, as she does. What is to stop a woman who is interested in national and international affairs from reading magazines that deal with those subjects? To paraphrase a famous line, 'The fault, dear Mrs. Friedan, is not in our culture, but in ourselves.' " [ Read the review. ]

Among readers, however, the response to the book was so overwhelming that Ms. Friedan realized she needed more than words to address the condition of women's lives. After moving back to Manhattan with her family, she determined to start a progressive organization that would be the equivalent, as she often said, of an N.A.A.C.P. for women.

In 1966, Ms. Friedan and a group of colleagues founded the National Organization for Women. She was its president until 1970.

One of NOW's most visible public actions was the Women's Strike for Equality, held on Aug. 26, 1970, in New York and in cities around the country. In New York, tens of thousands of woman marched down Fifth Avenue, with Ms. Friedan in the lead. (Before the march, she made a point of lunching at Whyte's, a downtown restaurant formerly open to men only.)

Carrying signs and banners ("Don't Cook Dinner — Starve a Rat Tonight!" "Don't Iron While the Strike Is Hot"), women of all ages, along with a number of sympathetic men, marched joyfully down the street to cheering crowds. The march ended with a rally in Bryant Park, behind the New York Public Library, with passionate speeches by Ms. Friedan, Ms. Steinem, Ms. Abzug and Kate Millett.

Not all of Ms. Friedan's ventures were as successful. The First Women's Bank and Trust Company, which she helped found in 1973, is no longer in business. Nor were even her indomitable presence and relentless energy enough to secure passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.

Though widely respected as a modern-day heroine, Ms. Friedan was by no means universally beloved, even — or perhaps especially — by members of the women's movement. She was famously abrasive. She could be thin-skinned and imperious, subject to screaming fits of temperament.

In the 1970's and afterward, some feminists criticized Ms. Friedan for focusing almost exclusively on the concerns of middle-class married white women and ignoring those of minorities, lesbians and the poor. Some called her retrograde for insisting that women could, and should, live in collaborative partnership with men.

Ms. Friedan's private life was also famously stormy. In her recent memoir, "Life So Far" (Simon & Schuster, 2000), she accused her husband of being physically abusive during their marriage, writing that he sometimes gave her black eyes, which she concealed with make-up at public events and on television.

Mr. Friedan, who died in December, repeatedly denied the accusations. In an interview with Time magazine in 2000, shortly after the memoir's publication, he called Ms. Friedan's account a "complete fabrication." He added: "I am the innocent victim of a drive-by shooting by a reckless driver savagely aiming at the whole male gender."

Ms. Friedan's other books include "It Changed My Life: Writings on the Women's Movement" (Random House, 1976); "The Second Stage" (Summit, 1981); and "The Fountain of Age" (Simon & Schuster, 1993).

The recipient of many awards and honorary degrees, she was a visiting professor at universities around the country, among them Columbia, Temple and the University of Southern California. In recent years, Ms. Friedan was associated with the Institute for Women and Work at Cornell University.

Despite all of her later achievements, Ms. Friedan would be forever known as the suburban housewife who started a revolution with "The Feminine Mystique." Rarely has a single book been responsible for such sweeping, tumultuous and continuing social transformation.

The new society Ms. Friedan proposed, founded on the notion that men and women were created equal, represented such a drastic upending of the prevailing social norms that over the years to come, she would be forced to explain her position again and again.

"Some people think I'm saying, 'Women of the world unite — you have nothing to lose but your men,' " she told Life magazine in 1963. "It's not true. You have nothing to lose but your vacuum cleaners."


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