Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Feminist writers pay tribute

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | 'I felt like falling to my knees and thanking her ghost for all she did'

Naomi Wolf

'I felt like falling to my knees and thanking her ghost for all she did'

Feminist writers pay tribute

Tuesday February 7, 2006
The Guardian

Naomi Wolf
Betty Friedan was the spark that set the whole 20th-century ablaze in terms of the gender revolution. Irascible, truth-telling and fearless, she was ready to call the entire culture on its shortcomings and hypocrisies in relation to "the problem that has no name" - the anomie of mid-20th-century, educated women trapped in The Feminine Mystique. She mattered and matters on so many different, profoundly important levels. Firstly, she invented the genre through which other writers of subsequent decades would scrutinize the mythologies surrounding women - by popularizing the highbrow theory of Simone de Beauvoir and training a sociologist's and social critic's eye on the ephemera and detritus of women's daily lives. Secondly, she essentially re-invented dormant feminist activism by co-founding the National Organization for Women (NOW), a model of an organization that rammed into practice an array of reforms - from the idea of equal pay for equal work, to the remaking of the movement to guarantee reproductive rights - that were unimaginable when she began. Finally, she hammered out the only real gameplan for change for women in western democracies: radical analysis followed by reformist pressure from both within and outside the system. It is hard to think of one individual who more completely created the western century that has recently closed. Bravo to Betty, wherever she is.

Article continues
Katharine Whitehorn
Lynn Segal
Camille Paglia
Julie Bindel
Allison Pearson
Natasha Walter
Claire Rayner
Polly Toynbee
Yvonne Roberts

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