Woman; 114; Betty Friedan
With an in-depth exploration of the world of women today with San Bruno.Good evening and welcome to woman.We have a very special guest this evening.She's probably more responsible than anyone else for the current women's movement in the UnitedStates.My guest is Betty for Dan Bedi wrote The Feminine Mystique and founded theNational Organization for Women. And that was only the beginning.She continues to be in the vanguard of the women's fight for equality.Welcome to women.Good to be here. Betty can you describe what you were like just before you wrote TheFeminine Mystique. Well I had to give some thought to that recentlybecause of. Norton hasjust published the tenth anniversary edition of The Feminine Mystique and it was just a little over 10years ago.There was no women's movement of course and we had no word for sex discrimination ineach one of us felt that she was terribly alone. And I wrote in the new epilogue in the
prologue to the feminine mystique the anniversary edition.So I wrote I remembered what it was like then I had I was thenliving in suburbia in Rockland County New York. I had threechildren.I was occasionally freelancing for the women's magazines.Within that complete framework of what I later called The Feminine Mystique you know justthat women were supposed to live solely in terms of their home and their relationship ties but in children inso many of the things that now we are even the problems the.Equality opportunity all the rest of it we have no words for that then it was that was all supposed to beerotic and way behind us and we were just in terms of feminine fulfillment.And if people were working outside the home I mean they were sort ofmade to feel guilty no matter how much the money was needed and then they had to rush home or do otherhousework as they were being so unfeminine to work in the first place and you know heaven forbid that thehusband should share the housework or the children should take the bus to the Little League game and
I was presenting basically you know. But I wouldhide that from my suburban neighbors as if it were a secret drinking or something like that Imean I would sort of push the notes away and you know as I was getting to the final throesof my book if someone came over for coffee in the morning and I was really in the middle of something.I mean it was increasingly hard to hide. But it wasand I remember Dein each chapter that I finished in mycrazy and you know all of that and up to was say women are people women are human beingswe're entitled the same rights Aborigines are human beings. What has it done to us whyhave we kept from facing this fact why have we not use theopportunities and not even seen the problems. Soonafter the book came out 10 years ago it was likeso many women who said it to me and I felt it myself. It was such a reliefdiscover that we were not alone that we were not freaks that we were not meeting with an
individual freakish psychological situation since I'mnot a confessor expiate you know I just. But how did your friendsreact.Your close friend.Did you show people the manuscript before it was published and get my hands on it. You knowI was a little leery about that I didn't and the editor of thepublishing company started early.I remember showing one suburban neighbor just a little piece of it.She got so upset to know the answer came back to get it when she saidyou know it's like you're living among the starving Indians or something like I mean she was one of the starving Indiansherself and she was upset and I for some reason something in me notconsciously maybe but I knew that this was probably the mostimportant thing I'd ever done were writing a book.I've not ever written a book before I had been writing you know articles or earlierthan that newspaper stuff.
But I mean I knew it was important and I wasn't going to let anybody mess with it.You know and I just.But if I had it I couldn't possibly have imagined 10years ago what would have happened in less than 10 years theworldwide scale of this movement and how much we have changedthe conscience of women the kind of the minute it began to change the institutions that havekept women from being so people and it is fantastic and I dobelieve that wow a lot of these children is amid a lot of it is not done and we maybackslide from part of it that I really fully agree that my daughterand her generation by the time they reach adulthood they were have somany of these problems and kind of the same they have new ones that I think you cannot turnback its enormous tide. How soon after you published the book did nowbegin to happen. Well we started now in in1966 so there was about a three year period inwhich. You see first you could only see all this in
individual terms. And then he was very quick to seethat it was more than consciousness and more that individual that it wasn't enough to sayyes I am a person first you know I am not just like George's brother.My husband's wife I am a person first and I have been entitled toanything that any other American person or you know human being is a doddle too.Because you then could see problems that you couldn't see before as long as you were brainwashed by the feminine mystique.You could see that the society was structured against you that there was a lot ofdiscrimination that kept you as operating as a person in society in theevery field and profession was structured as a man's world. And the same time the home was too muchstructured as a woman's world and you were kind of between you and I have to change the world changesociety.You couldn't do that alone.No we have been isolated Up until then we have been isolated by the feminine mystique and we have been isolated individualsuburban houses and I started city apartments or if we worked outside the home we'd
still been isolated big because of our guilt sin our timidity and our selfdenigration and lack of ability to work with and affirm other women. But once wemoved through the feminine mystique it became clear that you couldn't just solve this individual that youneeded to move in then the civil rights movement thecivil rights march the civil rights legislation of 1964 and begetting sexdiscrimination outlawed employment in Title 7 along with race discrimination and you havethis sense that the government was not going to enforce this law that they weretreating it as a joke that even the administrators of the Civil RightsAct and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission were treating the sex part as a jokeand then people coming to me and saying we need you and you have the freedomto do it in. It was like a whole underground that I was going to be aware of of women intrade unions and women in the government women in the media and they came to you. Yes andand then as I was also doing research for my
so-called second book which never got written because I started a movement instead about newpatterns beyond the feminine mystique but I couldn't find in the United States new patterns.All I could find was women with problems but no new patterns becausesociety was structured against him. We all remember I was a third of the way through thissecond book and I said all it is so far is just talk because there waslots and lots of talk.I mean there were panel discussions and more books and the president's commission on thestatus of women the state commissions cities were in they would make reports reports would be put away ingovernment office drawers and nothing was happening and youand I had this discouraged he was already drowned in a wave of talk to the world about the problemsand if there were real women. No you know they didn't want to go back they were itwas painful but they were facing a whole new possibilities of life. But something had to happen tochange the society in so I remember writing
this happens of course talk all this happened is a change of consciousness.But the first step of a revolution such as this is consciousness and the next step was toorganize a movement to change society. And I guess what I did was put down.The second book and I have to start the movement that became now in1966. And in the seven yearssince then the movement is become worldwide.It now has the identification of women now is of course the largestorganization.The only one with a national structure is the movement but nowitself is merely the Who are you know the core perhaps ofthe mainstream of it being the 500 chapters in different cities and suburbs I think you have toin here in Buffalo and you know in every large city small inin the south west in the Northeast you never imagine did justthat and it is where everybody is doing things. Everywhere there the agenda we
mapped out roughly in 1996 just a handful of years. And now they're doing it on aworld scale and now it seems to me that we reach a new stage againwhere there is this necessity. To take absoluteresponsibility you know for the power that we have or you have and do use it and youuse it to move through the door we've opened for women generally tokeep that door open in a period of economic turmoil so that it doesn't slam in ourfaces. Who are the wise it's just tokenism and a few women who will be in with the lead.The rest will be left you know behind.And then also to see the larger implications of what we've been doing for men forchildren for the society as a whole and not just sort of the easy traps of the rhetoricyou know.I mean a male chauvinist pig and and you know in the Down With that sort of thing because that's notwhere it's at.So you don't feel that sexual politics really has a place in the current women's movement.Well it's there is certainly a note of that.
I think the note of that on the extreme fringe is basically at this pointnot too productive.I think that that are our sexuality is a verybasic part of us that has been very. Subverteddistorted made unnecessary misery for women and men anda dehumanized sexuality for women and men by the very sexroles of farce absolute sex roles the mask the mystique and the feminine mystiquethat we've lived through and in the the exploitation of the frustratedenergies and out of sexual energy itself by theprofiteers by the neo establishment bylarge business by the mass media in trying toend the sexual set and then trying to make a product of sex and the dehumanizing of thePlayboy bunny or that even you know the devices the vibrator and so on.
And then the hostility that breeds in people women and men when theyhave to live in Mass.And when their basic human and sexual need for intimacy and love isviolated in this frustrated. But I wouldn't I hate to see the extremefringe of the women's movement fall into that trap and then simply addto the dehumanization by an anti sexual rhetoric by arepudiation of human sexuality.Or by a distortion of what our real politics have to be about. That is our realpower to change society and to make it possible for women to develop to their fullabilities and use them in society in every field and profession at the same timenot sacrifice the human needs that women have as well as men forhome for family for love for sexual satisfaction even to havechildren that we want to have a free choice whether or not to have them to build a new kind of home. And ifyou feel that happening though is that a real danger as well. No I think that
that what is emerging is likely that the mainstream of the movement isas I say that women who do want equality who do want their fullpersonhood in their decision making voice in politics and in the church inemployment in profession but they also walk home as they wouldhusbands or lovers they want children or not children but they will but say theywant a good rich full life you know and that thats humanand the rhetoric of the extreme fringe the hate rhetoric theantisexual rhetoric that is the radical Shiek rhetoric that is basicallya note that will die out because it is a thing that does not speak to the needsof most women and it alienates more and more women.We believe in one equality and therefore person it alienates our So.More and more men who otherwise can identify with the movement and it is simply notwhere it's at now I don't in any means
deny the right of people who voice this kind ofbasically alike sex class warfare you know it. It's a kind of afemale chauvinism. I don't deny the right to say even if I disagreewith it and in fact perhaps very good they exist in the extreme fringes of the movementbecause you know they do their thing and then it leaves the majority of womenand Jew work.I hope increasingly with men though sometimes we have to fight men too.What about men's liberation liberties are I think that's the next thing and I think that's going to happen.I mean I think that that men more and more being young ones you know ones thataren't so you really do there see their stake in what women have been doing inthe women's movement there was a ration we would implies men's liberation tofrom the vast and Misty from the burdens of the guilt to the torments.Not only of of woman's nonlife and frustration which she takes
out. Inevitably I manage children but of their ownnecessary feelings of inadequacy.If they can't live up to a definition of masculinitythat make must make most men feel inadequate and defeated even before they begin andmakes them drive then a heavy heart attacks and dyingof it 30 aided you know their 40s and so I mean that's that'sright and that's linkage with this obsoletemask and mystique you know that and the torment built into thefamily with opposite sex roles we've both been livingwhich somehow makes us very vulnerable tothe I don't know that it's a conscious conspiracy but to the forces thatsomehow profit by keeping us moving on this rat race that you can neverwin and.
Always frustrated. Always lovely always isolated always feeling thiscondition of impotent rage which I think has been the condition to many aman as well as women. We live in has beennot to difficult to make each other scapegoats for that and yet you know we areindissoluble together women in bed and the next stage of the women'smovement is word that will not beat women against men but with good and bad together thesex role revolution obviously basket and feminine mistakes andthe institutions to restructure not about us but you restructure the familythough the church and all the institutions the structureof the practice of medicine and law and all the rest that have been built around these obsoletesex rows. Let's backtrack a second to when you first wrote the book and your ownmarriage dissolved at that point. Well not at that point it took.
It was easier for me to write this I had to seek it even tostart the words will be there todo that much more painful thing of making very crucial stepsin my own personal life and I think incidentally that for all womenwe must realize that for all women I mean what isreally threatening about the women's movement is not to men but to women. It requirescourage on our part to move from a pattern that is a painful as it may havebeen it seems safe seems secure in to risk ourselves in newways and to to take risks to makedecisions to go on around and I'm not saying at all though it wasnecessary for me to end a marriage that should have been in the lawbut I didn't have the guts to do it.
I don't think that to walk out of a marriage is the answer for every woman. In fact I thinkthat that is sometimes too easy to make the marriage of the husband thescapegoat that when we come to grips with what we really want in life beyondmarriage and we begin to do something about it.We get more confidence in ourselves and get less angry because we're doing things that maybe themarriage can be sort of put on a better basis and that theman even if the man is initially threatened. By a woman really movinginto her own identity and stop manipulating unmasking and Heidithen he can get over that because he can see great benefits.That's not true for all of us some of us were holding on to very bad marriages because we wereafraid to go it alone and that was my kids.How do you feel about consciousness raising as a tool. Well I have aquote and I'm not sure it's accurate.Did you once say that consciousness raising is like looking into your own navel a little bitI think that everything we do is geared First of all
to changing our own consciousness and that of others and then which is the first stepyou know requisite to changing society.But what does change your consciousness you see.I mean I think that everything we did in the movement that has changed societyhas been a thousand percent more conscious reason to the people who did it that Eddiea matter of hours moaning and groaning around the living room. In effectit may be a great relief at first to realize that you know you're not alone.Did your sisters have the same grief the same misery the same problems that is a relief.I guess I did that in writing my book and many of us in the beginning did that in otherways but I think what I noticed is if the conscious raisinggroups stay that way they can justmutually egg each other on in a rhetoric that doesn't really give them more confidencethat doesn't really change their consciousness. Their ability to act and move
in different ways and they can somehow keep them well away eitherself pity or in an empty rhetoric rather thanto move. When we take it action to change societywhether it was the gaining the right to control our own bodies in our reproductiveprocess and to decide when and whether to have children and theright to medical help at abortion as we did in New York State and in the Supreme Court decision or whetherit's breaking through sex discrimination to refuse toserve women where restaurants where you know business like should place or do.We did serve women at night unless they were escorted by a man which assumed that I were prostitutesor whether we take on the question of discrimination against women in credit. When we dosomething and when we effect a change and when we discover that we have the abilityto hold a press conference to take on a legislator to change a piece of legislation toamass a difficult complex a body of legislative material
you learned you can do a television program whatever it is. We become differenttoo you see we what more than our consciences change our wholebehavior possibility our total person who is one stepforward in the development of our potential.So you only think it's effective.It becomes an effective political tool and well but I use political in thelargest sense not the narrow partisan politics since there's a lot of that. Yes what we've been doingin the women's movement is in many sense more truly political for this era thenthat anything that Republican Party the Democratic Party or the leftwing communist or Maoists. All these rhetoricalsights that are they are basically dealing with political rubricsterms slogans that are either completely cynical and youknow as friends as we're learning in Watergate and are just devoid of
concern for people or express their concern in such outmodedways. They are no longer applicable for the present at least dealing with the reallives of women as we have done in the women's movement. We have been genuinely political inthe sense of changing society and using the power of people to change society.But it's a little bit like when you look back to the origins of this of theblack civil rights movement the young black people thewomen in the South who refused to ride any longer in the back of the bus the young people that refused tobe.You know they sat down to lunch counters and they insist they're being served you know likeI mean you would be nice.They don't really open those lunch counters and ended that stigma. That said theplots were less than four you would be nice but they changed themselves. They changed themselves.They became more confident. They went one step further to their own full personand they got rid of a lot of that self-denigration that was taking it into themselves
the put down by society.Women have been doing this this last 10 years and they have beendoing it.I think most constructively and most productively bythe actions that have been change their own lives and by which they have united togetherin organizations like to change society and that these are the importantthings the real actions that have really changed society and the real risks they havetaken in their personal lives and in the public lives the rhetoric is very inconsequential if not destructive. The conscious raising groups in sofar as they just wallow in the rhetoric are in the end not completelyproductive although they can be a step if they lead to further const constructor action.The exhibitionism and the kind of extreme rhetoric that the media picks on has beencounterproductive really just any improvement in the way the media has treated the women's movement I know youare. You constantly complain about that but it's it's much improvement. This
program is an improvement I would say the fact that there is this program.There should be many more like it in Boston. Recently the major televisionstation gave a whole day to a program for women and I while I don't think they did itso well and they did there were certain to have to rip off and not really that you know wewould still know the fantastic response made them see what is important.Yes it was. I think that there is the importance of the arc.Class action suits in all three networks. They are not using enough withinfour producers four directors. There are not enough women in serious newscommentary it shouldn't be just talking about women. I mean Pauline Frederick says retired Where is ourfemale Cronkite.You know we've got to have we're getting all these roles not just about women butwomen responding commenting on it and doing active roles inevery aspect of television. But we're getting there we're moving there.I would like to spend the last couple minutes we have talking about priorities your priorities the priorities of
now.Well I think my priority and I hope the priority ofdoubt will get is to Reidy.Move responsibly understanding the power we have and moveit to confront the very real problems that that still exist for ourwomen and it can be exacerbated with this economic situation where forinstance that we are in a situation where with the energycrisis real or not real you know in the economic turmoil couldbe used as an excuse to take attention away from the movement that we havebuilt up so well to break through the Sex Discrimination against women in employment. We would after all intimes of recession and depression in the past have been the last hired first fired. We dont wantthat to happen again. I am working right now to put together an economic think tank forwomen because Thomas and all sorts of people like that with women respond to women leaders where the
spring that will take the necessary steps not only to keepwomen from being the victims of the economic turmoil that exists today but totake what has come out of the women's movement and see how this opened up a really greatnew horizons for the economy. You know as a whole. Wemust. There are certain manners like Schild care SocialSecurity. Other questions are limited. Anew parity of housing credit and other socialchanges that have to happen now that we have with it are movingquite surely toward equality and they understand that their place is in society aswell as the whole need a different kind of home.It means real change in certain measures in society. We must all use our political strengthto do so my priority is just is to move from the rhetoric to the realchanges and to marshal our political power in new ways. And I mean our
- Episode Number
- Betty Friedan
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- WNED (Buffalo, New York)
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- This episode features a conversation with Betty Friedan, the author of "The Feminine Mystique" and the founder of the National Organization for Women. She is largely responsible for the women's movement in the United States.
- Woman is a talk show featuring in-depth conversations exploring issues affecting the lives of women.
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Director: George, Will
Guest: Friedan, Betty
Host: Elkin, Sandra
Producer: Elkin, Sandra
Producing Organization: WNED
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Identifier: WNED 04291 (WNED-TV)
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- Chicago: “Woman; 114; Betty Friedan,” 1974-01-30, WNED, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 20, 2019, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_81-9995xhm0.
- MLA: “Woman; 114; Betty Friedan.” 1974-01-30. WNED, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 20, 2019. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_81-9995xhm0>.
- APA: Woman; 114; Betty Friedan. Boston, MA: WNED, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_81-9995xhm0