Start of a bad ending: The Feminine Mystique

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Part of the series ‘Communism → second-wave feminism → social re-engineering’
Index and preamble for series
Last updated 2018 10 16

‘The Feminine Mystique’, the start of a bad ending

Betty Friedan, the author of The Feminine Mystique, had decided that women in the U.S. did have a problem, an undefinable problem that no one could put a finger on.  She nevertheless decided to describe what it was and called it “the problem with no name.”  Betty Friedan was by no means the first to express those sentiments, she merely popularized them in the U.S.A. and in doing so catered to a demand market.  She went to great lengths describing that women with college and university educations were overqualified for what many individuals think of as the mundane jobs of mothers and housewives.  Betty Friedan asserted that women could therefore not possibly be happy, because they were being subjugated and condemned to live out their lives in perpetual boredom.

Betty Friedan’s recommendation was to liberate women from the slavery of having children, having to change diapers and to wipe snotty noses, cook meals, make beds, clean homes, shop, and being all-around domestics for their husbands. Thereby, women would be able to escape their bonds and contribute more constructively to society by having rewarding careers, just as men had, which it was women’s right to enjoy and society’s duty to make allowances for.  The result of that would be happiness (and who would not go out of his way to make women happy), as a result of which we would gain Utopia, Paradise on Earth.

Second-wave feminism got an enormous boost through Betty Friedan's 'The Feminine Mystique'.

Betty Friedan put the expressed in ‘The Feminine Mystique’ to work, by participating in the launching of NOW (The National Organization for Women).

The message in The Feminine Mystique is familiar to students of history and of social evolution.  Many social reformers throughout history tried to motivate mankind to strive to attain Utopia, Paradise on Earth — through various means and methods, as explained excellently by Igor Shafarevich in The Socialist Phenomenon (1975, by YMCA Press; 1980 
English translation–online
, by Harper & Row).  No one had ever tried to succeed with that by developing a marketing strategy and message that targeted just the female half of mankind as well as had Betty Friedan (she and the second chapter of her book had been influenced by Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex).  She was a messenger who became a prophet, because the message she brought filled a void, the perception (no matter whether it was right or not, it was desired — it is hard to resist the lure of Paradise on Earth) that women’s role in society need not be boring but should have meaning. Many of Betty Friedan’s collaborators surely saw it for what it could become. Women were entitled to have meaningful lives, and society, all of civilization, owed it to them.

“A society that puts equality—in the sense of  equality of outcome—ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom.  The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom, and the force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests.”

—Milton and Rose Friedman
in Free to Choose: A Personal Statement

Why stop at full equality when everything is up for grabs?  In the perfect guise of seeking equality for women, Betty Friedan’s message was used as a Trojan horse that put mankind on the road to feminist supremacy.

The message in The Feminine Mystique proved to be irresistibly attractive to the nation’s women who had everything that women in the rest of the world envied them for.  Women who had everything but their full share of responsibilities could feel that their eyes had been opened.  The problem that had no name finally had received the recognition it deserved.  The boredom and lack of duties and responsibilities that so many felt they were suffering under became duly recognized as insidious oppression by the patriarchy.  The Feminine Mystique opened the  eyes of millions of dissatisfied women who yearned for their place in the sun, because they deserved it.  They were women.  They wanted it, and they wanted it now!

Millions of bored, dissatisfied women suddenly had a mission worth going on (although the membership of NOW apparently never rose above about 250,000). Many of them realized that, of course, they would not have to stop at achieving equality, but that, with enough imagination, they could rule, which they set out to achieve.

The message in The Feminine Mystique got soaked up as a dry sponge soaks up water.  The book became very popular.

»The Feminine Mystique is a book written by Betty Friedan which is widely credited with sparking the beginning of second-wave feminism in the United States.[2]….

During the year of 1964, The Feminine Mystique became the bestselling nonfiction book with over one million copies sold.[5][6] In this book, Friedan challenged the widely shared belief in 1950s that “fulfillment as a woman had only one definition for American women after 1949—the housewife-mother.”[6]….« —Wikipedia

Wikipedia also informs that,

»During the year of 1964, The Feminine Mystique became the bestselling nonfiction book with over one million copies sold.[5][6] In this book, Friedan challenged the widely shared belief in 1950s that “fulfillment as a woman had only one definition for American women after 1949—the housewife-mother.”[6] « —More (and links)

Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique rose to fame, and so did its author. Perhaps that prevented her from delivering the promised sequel to her book.  She became engaged in helping to launch the National Organization for Women (NOW) and, in 1966, was one of its co-founders (or at least one of the  coauthors of its 1966 Statement of Purpose.)

1966 Founding of NOW, The National Organization for Women

NOW was at first somewhat gender-inclusive or made some concessions to gender tolerance, but perhaps that was just a pretense, to avoid the creation of a bad impression, as it became soon obvious that NOW would wage war against all things male.  NOW had a strong lesbian contingent, right from the start. One of the coauthors of its 1966 Statement of Purpose was a lesbian.

The 1998 version of its first agenda, The National Organization for Women’s 1966 Statement of Purpose, states: “This Statement of Purpose was co-authored by Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique, and Dr. Pauli Murray, an African-American, Episcopal minister.”

Analoyce Clapp wrote, “28 women met to set up a temporary organization for this purpose: To take action to bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American society now, assuming all the privileges and responsibilities thereof in truly equal partnership with men.” — NOW, in Founding: Setting the Stage

NOW’s 49 founders are…

From the June 1966 meeting — 28 women:

Ada Allness, Mary Evelyn Benbow, Gene Boyer, Analoyce Clapp, Kathryn Clarenbach, Catherine Conroy, Caroline Davis, Mary Eastwood, Edith Finlayson, Betty Friedan, Dorothy Haener, Anna Roosevelt Halstead, Lorene Harrington, Mary Lou Hill, Esther Johnson, Nancy Knaak, Min Matheson, Helen Moreland, Dr. Pauli Murray (later Rev.), Ruth Murray, Inka O’Hanrahan, Pauline A. Parish, Eve Purvis, Edna Schwartz, Mary-jane Ryan Snyder, Gretchen Squires, Betty Talkington and Dr. Caroline Ware.

From the October 1966 conference — 21 women and men:

Caruthers Berger, Colleen Boland, Inez Casiano, Carl Degler, Elizabeth Drews, Dr. Mary Esther Gaulden (later Jagger), Muriel Fox, Ruth Gober, Richard Graham, Anna Arnold Hedgeman, Lucille Kapplinger (later Hazell), Bessie Margolin, Margorie Palmer, Sonia Pressman (later Fuentes), Sister Mary Joel Read, Amy Robinson, Charlotte Roe, Alice Rossi, Claire R. Salmond, Morag Simchak and Clara Wells.

— NOW, Honoring Our Founders & Pioneers

Wikipedia makes the same claim, that there were 28 founders, and it even provides a link to the source of the preceding quote with the names of NOW’s founders. Wikipedia asserts that there were 28 original founders, lists their names, but it found a reason for including an additional one, that of Shirley Chisholm, although it does not specify why its list came to contain the names of 29 original founders of NOW, instead of the 28 it declares their number was, or why Shirley Chisholm’s name had to be included in the list.

NOW’s list of the 28 original founders does not contain the name of Shirley Chisholm, but it has another name that is not included in its count of names.  Then again, Wikipedia can be forgiven for becoming confused, over the names of NOW’s founders, because NOW itself appears to be confused on the subject.  NOW is the source of Wikipedia’s list of names and does neither identify Shirley Chisholm nor the name of another founding member and its very first vice president:

Richard Graham, 1920-2007

…. His dedication to feminism led to his election as NOW Vice President in October of 1966 during NOW’s first organizing conference. He went on to found the District of Columbia Commission on the Status of Women, and to serve as the Executive Director of the Center for Moral Development at Harvard. In 1975, Graham was named President of Goddard College, where he helped found the Goddard-Cambridge Center for Social Change, one of the earliest centers for women’s studies.

— NOW, Honoring Our Founders & Pioneers

There were at least three other men who are listed in that document containing the name of the founding members of now:  Phineas Indritz, Rev. Dean Lewis,  and Herbert Wright. but they were part of the 21 additional founding members of the October 1966 founding conference.  There are not many people who know that men were founding members of NOW. NOW itself doesn’t seem to know.

That is not the end of the problems with NOW’s forgetfulness. It appears that some time after 1998 and no later than February 22, 2018, NOW had either contracted organizational amnesia or felt that it had reasons for erasing Dr. Pauli Murray’s memory from its corporate consciousness or at least to remove all evidence of her from the copy of its 1966 Statement of Purpose that NOW had been publishing then at its website.

The 2018 version of that (of The National Organization for Women’s 1966 Statement of Purpose) no longer mentions Dr. Pauli Murray and the fact that she was a coauthor of The National Organization for Women’s 1966 Statement of Purpose.  It concludes with: “This Statement of Purpose was written by Betty Friedan, author of “The Feminine Mystique”.

By 2016, the fact that all memory of Dr. Pauli had vanished came to light in an article that NOW could not resist posting to its website, thereby proving that what has been lost can be found.

Finding Pauli Murray

Printable PDF

Finding Pauli Murray:
The Black Queer Feminist Civil Rights Lawyer Priest who co-founded NOW, but that History Nearly Forgot
October 24, 2016

Pauli Murray Project,


It seems that ‘herstory’ is as flexible and variable as were Stalin’s infamous photos, which at first showed him in the company of trusted party officials who were later removed from life, from his photos and from history.  A side-by-side comparison of NOW’s 1966 Statement of Purpose to NOW’s and its 1996 National Conference Resolutions reveals substantial differences.  The advent of second-wave feminism had not just changed all of society with the help and leadership of NOW, it had changed NOW as well.

In 1966, NOW had been somewhat benign, agreeable, and sedate. By 1996, NOW had become aggressively demanding, confrontational, belligerent, even shrill, and men were by then most definitely considered to be the enemy of women.

1996 National Conference Resolutions [Index]

– Parental Rights of the Disabled
– Anti-Lesbian and Gay Ballot Initiatives After Amendment 2
– Church Burnings
– Monitoring Sexual Harassment Policies and Title IX Compliance
– Fairness in Courts Dealing with Family Matters
– NOW Action Alert on “Fathers’ Rights”
– Elimination of Gender Apartheid in Sports
– Indigenous Hawai’ian Peoples Resolution
– Breast Implant Resolution
– Veteran Feminists
– Elimination of Discriminatory Labor Practices in Maquila Factory Industries
– National Day of Action in Support of Same-Sex Marriage
– Moving the Feminist Agenda in State Legislatures
– Activism on Native American Issues
– Reproductive Rights
– NOW Vision Summit
– Women’s Vote: Use It or Lose It
– Reaffirmation of Support for the Voting Rights Act
– Supporting Young Feminism Within NOW
– Violence and Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

From the National Organization of Women (NOW):
The original may be accessed at:
(The preceding link is broken, but the text of NOW’s 1966 National
Conference Resolutions was accessed in 1999 at that link, downloaded and
annotated.  It can be accessed via the links in the preceding linked index.)

As can be seen, NOW’s 1996 Agenda had something for every woman.  It had been vastly expanded, compared to the 1966 Statement of Purpose, and little was left out (except, of course, all pretense that women’s rights as seen by NOW had anything to do with equality for all, and that a functioning society needs respect for and coöperation with men.)

»No doubt, if you have read any of the documentation relating to the VAWA II [the Violence Against Women Act], you’ll recognize that much of what was contained in the 1966 Agenda of NOW is now firmly embedded in VAWA II. NOW is formulating national policy in the US, not only lobbying to formulate but actually controlling national policy.

Anyone may wonder why that should concern a Canadian.  The reason for that concern is that NOW and other “women’s” organizations in the world, such as NACSOW (National Action Committee Status of Women) in Canada are closely collaborating to dominate world politics.  That is done through their extraordinary influence at the UN, in every possible sector of the UN imaginable.«

— WHS, from my footnotes to
NOW’s 1966 National Conference Resolutions

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