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Learning English - Words in the News
 
06 February, 2006 - Published 12:28 GMT
 
US feminist Betty Friedan dies
 
Betty Friedan
Betty Friedan, a feminist icon

One of America's most famous feminist thinkers and writers, Betty Friedan, has died at the age of 85. She was best known for her book The Feminine Mystique, which helped start the modern women's movement in the United States. This report by Lucy Williamson:

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That the things Betty Friedan said in the 1960s seem unremarkable now is, partly at least, down to her impact. Back then the things she campaigned for - the right to abortion, equal pay, maternity leave and job adverts that didn't specify the sex of the person being sought - were seen by many in America as radical ideas. Something Betty Friedan herself was keenly aware of, when in 1963 she published her book The Feminine Mystique.

In the book, Betty Friedan described what she called 'the problem with no name' - the frustrations felt by educated, full-time mothers. In the 1950s, America expected its women to be completely fulfilled by marriage and motherhood. The idea that women might want to achieve something outside of this startled polite society.

The book became a best-seller; and Betty Friedan a household name. Three years later, she co-founded the National Organisation for Women and served as its first president. But in the 1970s, she split from the organisation, accusing many of her contemporaries of focusing too much on lesbian issues and of equating feminism with hating men.

Listen to the words

impact
influence, powerful effect

campaigned for
worked for

specify
describe, name

sought
looked for

radical
extreme, supporting great social and political change

mystique
the quality of being special in a mysterious and attractive way

startled polite society
surprised and worried large numbers of people who live in a socially correct way

a household name
a very famous person that most people know of

lesbian
to do with women who are sexually attracted to other women

equating feminism with hating men
thinking of feminism and hating men as the same thing

 
 
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