Betty Friedan, encourager of female fulfilment, dies at 85

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The Independent US

Betty Friedan, whose book The Feminine Mystique helped inspire the modern feminist movement and helped found the National Organisation for Women in the US, died yesterday on her 85th birthday.

Friedan's assertion in her 1963 bestseller that having a husband and babies was not everything and that women should aspire to separate identities as individuals, was highly unusual, if not revolutionary, just after the baby and suburban booms of the Eisenhower era.

The feminine mystique, she said, was a phoney bill of goods society sold to women that left them unfulfilled, suffering from "the problem that has no name" and seeking a solution in tranquillisers 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.

Born Bettye Naomi Goldstein in Peoria, Illinois, Friedan attended Smith College in Massachusetts, where she edited a campus paper and graduated with honours in 1942.

She then attended the University of California, Berkeley, for a year before working as a journalist. In 1947, she married Carl Friedan, a marriage that lasted 20 years and produced three children.