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Condoleezza Rice, Call Your Office
Betty Friedan’s unfortunate legacy…
[Sally C. Pipes] 3/11/06
who died at 85 on February 4, issued plenty of misinformation
during her long life. The author of The Feminine Mystique, however,
would be hard pressed to match the nonsense being written about her. Consider,
for example, Marie Cocco of the Washington Post Writer's Group.
no way to thank the mother you've never acknowledged," wrote
Cocco, who evoked Friedan's "deep cultural legacy." Because
of Friedan, the writer argues, millions of women opted out
of the "psychic suffering" of suburban housewives
during the 1950s and 1960s. More specifically: "Hers was
a generation of educated women forced by the oppressive power
of post-World War II culture to stash their college diplomas
in the closet and engage in the consuming pursuit of perfect
compared to conditions in much of the world, those were very
liberating times, when educated women could do pretty much
anything they wanted. If they wanted to stay home and raise
children, a difficult and demanding job, that was really not
the business of Betty Friedan. Her task was to make an entire
generation feel miserable about themselves. Even so, some women
think they owe everything to her.
work of my life would hardly have been possible without Betty
Friedan," writes Cocco. That might be true because the
journalist appears to be an orthodox follower of Friedan-style
feminism. Unfortunately, Cocco is not just speaking for herself.
truth, without Friedan there would be no Condoleezza Rice," she
opined. That calls for some contrarian comment.
Rice, America's Secretary of State, suffered actual oppression,
not the "psychic" kind, because of racial prejudice.
She overcame that prejudice, and many more obstacles than the
affluent Betty Friedan ever faced, to become a woman of tremendous
accomplishment. National Security Advisor and Secretary of
State are two of the most difficult jobs anyone can undertake.
at the University of Denver at age 15 and graduated at 19.
She speaks Russian, French, German, and Spanish, and by all
accounts can hold her own as a concert pianist. She has never
attributed any of this, nor her career in politics, to Betty
Friedan, and she shouldn't. Indeed, she names as "one
of the most central figures in my life" Josef Korbel,
father of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who
taught a course on international politics and kindled Condoleezza's
interest in the Soviet Union. As we have pointed out (see "The
Fraud Mystique," December 4, 2002) Betty Friedan was also
interested in the Soviet Union, but in a different way.
to have found feminism when, at a Smith College reunion she
met classmates who found traditional roles at odds with their
careers. That's not quite how it happened. Friedan lived an
affluent life, supported by her husband, Carl, with a maid,
in a house overlooking the Hudson River. Her antipathy to the
American household, what she called a "comfortable concentration
camp," ruled by an oppressive race of men, was inspired
by left-wing ideology.
want the real story on Betty Friedan should read Daniel Horowitz,
Smith College professor and author of Betty Friedan and
the Making of the Feminine Mystique: The American Left, the
Cold War, and Modern Feminism. From her student days well
into her 30s, Friedan served as a professional propagandist
for the Stalinist left. Friedan-style feminism has always been
the women's auxiliary of socialism. In this world, Big Brother
is always right.
That is how
Betty Friedan should be remembered. Condoleezza Rice, and an
entire generation of successful women, got along just fine
without her. -one-
2006 Pacific Research Institute