US feminist Betty Friedan Dies, aged 85

 

US feminism pioneer, Betty Friedan, whose manifesto "The Feminine Mystique" helped shatter the cozy suburban ideal of the post-World War II era and laid the groundwork for the modern feminist movement has died, aged 85.

Friedan died at her Washington, D.C., home of congestive heart failure, according to a cousin, Emily Bazelon.

Few books have so profoundly changed so many lives as did Friedan's 1963 best seller. Her assertion that a woman needed more than a husband and children was a radical break from the Eisenhower era, when the very idea of a wife doing any work outside of house work was fodder for gag writers, like an episode out of "I Love Lucy."

Independence for women was no joke, Friedan wrote. The feminine mystique was a phony deal sold to women that left them unfulfilled, suffering from "the problem that has no name" and seeking a solution in tranquilizers and psychoanalysis.

"A woman has got to be able to say, and not feel guilty, `Who am I, and what do I want out of life?' She mustn't feel selfish and neurotic if she wants goals of her own, outside of husband and children," Friedan said.