Then Again, Maybe It Wasn't That Bad--Updated
Ruth Marcus talks about Betty Friedan
and marvels at how much things have changed:I write this not to belittle Friedan's metaphor but rather to revel in its obsolescence. For to reread the "The Feminine Mystique," as I did after Friedan's death last weekend, is to be reminded of the transformation of American women -- indeed, American society -- in the 43 years since the publication of her then-shocking manifesto. There have been remarkable advances, and not just in the technology of no-wax floors.
This change -- the long way that women have, in fact, come -- is easy to forget, in part because we are still picking our way unsteadily along the path that Friedan helped cut, still enmeshed in work-vs.-family debates that are at once stale and impassioned.
I have often thought that one of the major reasons for the feminist movement was that women's work had become so automated that the household chores that had filled their days became much easier. Washing clothes and washing dishes became simpler when they didn't have to be done by hand. I have read that women spent eight hours a week just dusting in the 1920s; not because they were fussbudgets, but because coal (which was used to heat houses in those days) caused so much dust.
Update: L-Dotter David999
pointed us to this article
on Betty Friedan's past as a communist.Professor Horowitz documents that Friedan was from her college days, and until her mid-30s, a Stalinist Marxist, the political intimate of the leaders of America's Cold War fifth column and for a time even the lover of a young Communist physicist working on atomic bomb projects in Berkeley's radiation lab with J. Robert Oppenheimer.
Jeez, next thing you'll be telling me Rosa Parks wasn't just tired one day and refused to give up her seat on the bus!