Liberal feminists: Betty Friedan and Anne Oakley
In this super-quick video we explore Betty Friedman and Anne Oakley’s liberal feminists views of the familyWhat do Liberal Feminist Believe?
In 1966, Betty Friedan established the National Organization for Women (NOW), gaining support primarily from college-educated women. Aligned with liberal feminism, they advocated for legislative changes without opposing marriage or family structures. Their agenda included calls for maternity leave, childcare facilities, equal opportunities in education and job training, and women’s reproductive rights. Additionally, liberal feminists sought to alter societal attitudes towards gender roles, challenge media stereotyping, and address issues related to sexist language.
Betty Friedan’s groundbreaking book, “The Feminine Mystique” (1963), was a pioneering work that shed light on the discontent felt by numerous American housewives. It posed the poignant question, “Is this all?” while unraveling the societal concept of ‘the feminine mystique.’ This ideology perpetuated the idea that fulfillment solely came from caring for children and a spouse, leaving women feeling guilty for desiring intellectual stimulation through academic pursuits or a career.
Friedan’s Liberal feminists insightful work resonated with women, expressing what many secretly felt. It inspired them to unite in consciousness-raising groups, sharing experiences and reevaluating their lives. As Friedan aptly noted, “The problem that has no name — which is simply the fact that American women are kept from growing to their full human capacities — is taking a far greater toll on the physical and mental health of our country than any known disease.”
Friedan’s resonated with Anne Oakley’s observations in Britain. Oakley (1974) revealed a parallel scenario, estimating that women invested an average of 77 hours weekly in domestic responsibilities.
Oakley’s inquiries to housewives, while considered loaded by some, echoed sentiments expressed by other researchers like Hannah Gavron (1966) and Jessie Bernard (1976). They, too, identified numerous housewives facing isolation and boredom due to monotonous, unpaid tasks. As Anne Oakley aptly stated, “Housework is work directly opposed to the possibility of human self-actualization.