Betty Friedan

Photo: AP

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Betty Friedan (1921—2006)
In 1963, Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique, a book that is credited with sparking the "second wave" of feminism in the United States.

"Betty Friedan was the perfect mixture for her moment," Collins says. "When you look back, her politics actually seem very moderate. Her famous book, The Feminine Mystique, was in the end mainly a call for women to have careers as well as families. But she delivered the message with a kind of primal scream of frustration and outrage that shook up a quiet, conservative country and made millions of women—particularly middle-class, college-educated women—look up and say: 'Wow. That's me.'"

At a long, dreary conference in the summer of 1966, Friedan and several other women co-founded NOW, the National Organization for Women. She also organized the National Women's Political Caucus in 1971. Among her many accomplishments, Friedan helped organized the nationwide Women's Strike for Equality on August 26, 1970, on the 50th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (which granted women the right to vote). That day, 50,000 people marched down Fifth Avenue in New York City to demonstrate their support for the Equal Rights Amendment.

A famous battle of the sexes
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