Sunday, February 05, 2006

Feminist pioneer Betty Friedan dies

Feminist pioneer Betty Friedan dies

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Betty Friedan, whose 1963 book "The Feminine Mystique" helped inspire the modern feminist movement and who co-founded the National Organization for Women, died on Saturday on her 85th birthday, a relative said.

Friedan died at her home in Washington of congestive heart failure, just before 3 p.m.(2000 GMT), her cousin Emily Bazelon told Reuters.

"For Betty, feminism was an aspect of humanism. And one of her sons said this morning that she demonstrated that sheer intelligence could trump lack of intelligence," Bazelon said.

Friedan was born Bettye Naomi Goldstein in Peoria, Illinois, and attended Smith College, a leading women's college in Massachusetts, where she edited a campus paper and graduated with honors in 1942. She attended the University of California, Berkeley for a year before working as a journalist. In 1947, she married Carl Friedan, a marriage that lasted 20 years and produced three children.

"The Feminine Mystique" emerged from an article about a survey she conducted of fellow graduates at Smith and focused on the restrictions on women of the role of full-time homemaker. It became a best-seller and helped invigorate the women's movement and U.S. feminism.

Friedan co-founded the National Organization for Women, with Pauli Murray, the first African-American female Episcopal priest and served as its first president from 1966 to 1970.

She also helped found NARAL, originally the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws.

Her other books included "The Second Stage, It Changed My Life: Writings on the Women's Movement," and "The Fountain of Age."

She is survived by two sons and a daughter, nine grandchildren, a brother and a sister. Her funeral is planned for 11 a.m. on Monday at Riverside Funeral Chapel in New York.