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It Changed My Life: Writings on the Women's Movement [Paperback]

Betty Friedan
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

April 14, 1998 0674468856 978-0674468856 1ST

"It Changed My Life." That's what Betty Friedan heard over and over from women throughout the United States, after the publication of her radical best-seller, The Feminine Mystique, sparked the beginning of contemporary feminism. The first stirring and uncertain years of the women's movement helped many women put a name to the sense of invisibility, powerlessness, and depression that Friedan famously called "the problem that has no name."

First published in 1976, "It Changed My Life" is a compellingly readable collection of reports from the front, back in the days less than a generation ago when women were routinely shut out of the professions and higher education, underpaid, condescended to, and harassed without consequences to the harassers. The book describes the political campaigns for equal pay and job opportunities, for the outlawing of sex discrimination, for the Equal Rights Amendment, and for legalized abortion, the creation of National Organization for Women, the National Abortion Rights Action League, and the National Women's Political Caucus, and analyzes the antifeminist backlashes. Encounters with Simone de Beauvoir and Indira Gandhi are juxtaposed with moving and vivid personal struggles of many ordinary women. Among those women was Friedan herself, who frankly recorded her astonishment, gratification, and anger as the movement she helped create grew beyond all her hopes, and then raced beyond her control into a sexual politics she found disturbing.

A classic of modern feminism, "It Changed My Life" brings back years of struggle for those who were there, and recreates the past for the readers of today who were not yet born during these struggles for the opportunities and respect to which women can now feel entitled. In changing women's lives, the women's movement has changed everything.

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It Changed My Life: Writings on the Women's Movement + The Second Stage: With a New Introduction + The Fountain of Age
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Editorial Reviews


Betty Friedan has been and remains a bridge between conservative and radical elements in feminism, and an ardent advocate of harmony and human values. (Marilyn French Esquire)

It Changed My Life is a series of essays amounting to a thoughtful first-person history of the nascent feminist movement in the 1950s and '60s...[It is] perfect for mothers to give to daughters who 'don't get' feminism. (H. J. Kirchhoff Globe and Mail [Toronto])

About the Author

Betty Friedan was a founder and first president of the National Organization for Women, and convener of the National Women's Political Caucus and the National Abortion Rights Action League. She is author of The Feminine Mystique, The Second Stage, and The Fountain of Age. She is currently Distinguished Visiting Professor at Cornell.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; 1ST edition (April 14, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674468856
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674468856
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 6 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,032,510 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional collection of "Second Wave" writings June 8, 2000
By Pamela
Betty Friedan was a pivotal figure in the "second wave" women's movement of the 1960s and 70s. The publication of her book, _The Feminine Mystique_ in 1963 catapulted her into international celebrity. The book was a catalyst of change. Fueled by an economic boom in which a single wage-earner could provide a satisfactory standard of living for an entire family, post World War II women had been pressured to abandon the workplace in order to bury their identities in housekeeping and motherhood.
Many middle class women felt stifled by the false feminine ideals and enforced domesticity of this era, and it was their frustration and anger to which Friedan's writing resonated. She was an educated Jewish woman with three children, a journalist, who had lived the suburban lifestyle, but who was propelled by her sense of injustice to speak to the larger world.
_It Changed My Life_ is a compilation of old and new writings, interviews, magazine articles, and recollections ten years after Friedan and a handful of other women founded the National Organization for Women (NOW) in a Washington hotel room. This book was published in 1976, at a time when the original energy of the "second wave" women's movement had been submerged in pro-lesbian, anti-family rhetoric, and the futile struggle to pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) had many people questioning whether feminism was dead.
Her exceptional and powerful writings prove Friedan to be an outspoken radical, a true leader of our times. She is a spokeswoman for the heterosexual woman who loves her children, but who also wants to be valued by the human race. Friedan spoke out against social and economic powerlessness for women, as well as false standards of "machismo" for men.
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