• U.S.

Why We Marched, My Darlings

2 minute read
Betty Friedan

We knew our mothers didn’t have great lives. My mother had lots of energy and ability. She was a brilliant bridge and mah-jongg player, a good golfer and hostess, head of the women’s division of the community chest, etc. But I didn’t want to be like my mother. Women in my generation had to be self-made. We were the first women to move into careers and autonomy. The energy released by the move to women’s equality was stronger than that released by the H-bomb.

The vote for women was won the year before I was born. Now women participate more and more on equal terms in society, with equal opportunities and rights. What used to be the agenda of the suffragists is in society today. But we are just beginning to see what women can do and how their creativity can enhance the policies and practices of any field or profession. I recently saw some figures showing that women in America are getting as many professional degrees as men. Wow, I thought, we can pull up our skirts and declare victory–if only parenting were considered the equal responsibility of men and society. That’s the next step.

We are still very mother-centered. It’s still “mother, mother, mother,” when it really has to be “mother, father, society.” It’s quite outrageous that the rich, powerful U.S. is one of the few modern industrial nations without a national child-care program. We are backward in that respect. Before, men had wives who took care of the details of life. And because of that, men became too divorced from the concrete dailiness of life. Now they are beginning to carry the baby in the backpack and share in the details of life.

Young women are also in a different place. They take for granted the things we fought for. That’s O.K., because you know what? It was fun fighting for those rights.

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