Sunday, February 05, 2006

She Was Not Well Behaved

One of the most hated and revered women of the late 20th century died yesterday – Betty Friedan. She had the revolutionary idea that getting married, having children, and keeping a nice, clean home, were not enough. Friedan’s book, The Feminine Mystique, took the position that women should have identities of their own as individuals and not just as Mrs. So-and-So or Bobby’s Mom.

It was the start of a revolution that has benefited all women. Today’s 20- and 30-somethings cannot even wrap their minds around the idea that women might not be allowed to do or be anything they want. In less than 50 years we have finally started to tap the vast reservoir of talent in women.

In the 1960’s there were three jobs for a woman: nurse, teacher, secretary. And, of course, those were only until she snagged a man, got married, and had babies. Today’s women are astronauts, engineers, scientists, university presidents, doctors, lawyers, politicians, and yes, wives and mothers. The difference is choices, and we are so much richer for them.

I have a sign on my bulletin board: “Well behaved women rarely make history.” - Laurel Thatcher Urich. Women of every generation can be grateful that Betty Friedan was not well behaved.

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