Saturday, February 04, 2006

Something of Value?


Betty Friedan died today.

When my generation is gone, they'll be no one with living memories of an America in which most people stayed in marriages gone stale "for the sake of the children", and a middle class life style was accessible to modest earning blue collar workers like my butcher shop owner father.

Read the Feminine Mystique when it came out in the mid-1960s. Feminism is supposed to be the Holy Grail to women's happiness. Hardly seems to be the way things turned out.

The essense of the American experience is grand social experimentation. From a 21st century perspective Prohibition seems almost weird. Yet Americans so believed in cultural self transformation they amended the Constitution to ban the sale of alcohol. But beliefs which go against fundamental human nature and needs inevitably fail.

After 40 years of the feminist movement Friedan's book unleased, half of marriages end in divorce, marriage rates plummeted, children born today have less than a 25% to spend their entire childhood in an intact family, and it's the rare family which can get by financially on a single income.

New York Times book reviewer Lucy Freeman on the Feminine Mystique wrote "Sweeping generalities, in which this book necessarily abounds, may hold a certain amount of truth but often obscure the deeper issues. It is superficial to blame the 'culture' and its handmaidens, the women's magazines, as she does. What is to stop a woman who is interested in national and international affairs from reading magazines that deal with those subjects? To paraphrase a famous line, 'The fault, dear Mrs. Friedan, is not in our culture, but in ourselves.' "

Think Freeman was right. Women don't seem any happier today since Friedan "liberated" them from the tyranny and oppression of suburban fulltime homemaking.

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