Monday Motivation: Five Inspirational Quotes by Feminist Betty Friedan

Betty Friedan, Photo: Fred Palumbo, 1960
Betty Friedan, Photo: Fred Palumbo, 1960

For today’s Monday Motivation, we turn to feminist writer and activist Betty Friedan of Sag Harbor, author of the 1963 book The Feminine Mystique, which is widely credited with igniting the second-wave of feminism in America.

In 1921, Friedan was born in Illinois as Bettye Naomi Goldstein and would grow up as an active member of the Jewish and Marxist communities. She attended the all-female Smith College, graduating in 1942 with top honors. She returned for her 15th reunion to conduct a survey of her fellow alumni that sought to gauge their general life satisfaction, which she then used in published articles that detailed what she referred to as “the problem that has no name.” Inspired by the positive responses the articles received, she expanded the topic into The Feminine Mystique, which delved into the plight of the American housewife, a lack of female role models who worked outside the home and the roles of women in industrial societies.

Friedan co-founded the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966, which organized the Women’s Strike for Equality march on Fifth Avenue from her Hamptons rental home. She later decided to relocate to the East End permanently by purchasing the home at 31 Glover Street, Sag Harbor, where she hosted weekly lunches for artists and academics. She joined Kurt Vonnegut, William Demby, E.L. Doctorow and others to organize the Sag Harbor Initiative event, which aimed to shed a light on societal fear, poverty, discrimination, apathy and crime. The event, held at Pierson High School, succeeded in curating a meaningful discussion about the issues at hand.

While her words of insight are largely aimed at women, anyone can find empowerment and inspiration in the following quotes.

“Aging is not ‘lost youth’ but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”

“The only way for a woman, as for a man, to find herself, to know herself as a person, is by creative work of her own.”

“You can have it all, just not all at the same time.”

“The feminist revolution had to be fought because women, quite simply, were stopped at a state of evolution far short of their human capacity.”’

“Who knows what women can be when they are finally free to be themselves.”

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