Monday, February 06, 2006

Betty Friedan, RIP

Speaking as a feminist, I have long had great admiration for Betty Friedan. There are too many ways of remembering this great woman's numerous contributions, but my favorite is summed up in one quote:

"Man is not the enemy here, but the fellow victim"

This summarized the ultimate truth: That everyone is a victim. (Of course, this is a generalization, since not every man is a victim. Not as long as there are misogynists, racists, capitalists, Christians, white heterosexuals, Republicans, Zionists, Haliburton employees, and George W. Bush himself floating around out there.)

Ms. Friedan also realized that women and men are equals (with the above-noted exceptions). And yet, women were being abused. In the workplace, for instance, women were paid much less than men. But thanks to Betty, they are still paid much less, but have nonetheless become empowered. This empowerment, victim empowerment, enabled women to assert their feminism through a new-found identity. So, although were equal to men, women were also simultaneously superior to men.

But despite their equality/superiority, women were still at a disadvantage. And that's why Betty's support for extending the 1964 Civil Rights Act to women was so critical. The mere thought of a lawsuit resulting from firing women has resulted in an extra inducement to hire them. (I cannot explain this phenomena in this short space. Suffice it to say that I have an advanced degree in sociology, and therefore know what I am talking about.)

Betty's accomplishments were not limited to identifying victim classes, setting a foundation for civil litigation, and Virginia Slims. She also fought for gender-free want ads, maternity leave, and legal abortion. Legal abortion was a huge milestone, as it furthered our fight against America's Christian theocracy -- to say nothing of establishing a woman's right to her body and her child, as long as she eventually sends it to a public school.

And paid maternity leave has also greatly encouraged companies to hire young women. In fact, our job will not be done until companies are compelled to pay triple wages to women on maternity leave; after all, having a new child is expensive!

But I am afraid that the goal of gender-free want ads has, sadly, not been realized. A visit to any "singles" site on the Internet will reveal that gender discrimination is ubiquitous; people universally indicate gender in their ads! Perhaps some day, this too will be corrected.

Update: I just read that Betty was a Stalinist Marxist through her 30s. My admiration for this brave woman has increased to heights heretofore thought inconceivable.

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