Monday, February 06, 2006

Betty Friedan, R.I.P.

Betty Friedan (born Bettye Naomi Goldstein) died last Friday, February 4th, 2006, on her 85th birthday. She is credited with creating modern Feminism in the United States.

She was a Marxist and was active in radical atheistic Jewish organizations. In 1963 she published The Feminine Mystique, which lamented the life of homemakers in an industrial society. She co-founded the National Organization of Women and NARAL (originally National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws). Friedan was opposed to equating feminism with lesbianism, coining the term "Lavender Menace" in 1969.


Popular American culture changed dramatically in the 1950s. Popular music was once the domain of women, but by mid-decade, beginning with Elvis Presley, popular music culture became male-driven and aggressively sexual. Explicit sexuality became culturally acceptable with Playboy magazine, and the Kinsey Reports (now found to be based on fraudulent science) increased this emphasis. This all had a tremendous effect on the teenagers of that era: that decade had the lowest average age of first marriage in American history.

These vast numbers of immature married couples, having married early in a sexualized culture, and when birth control products were becoming more available, were the main targets for discontent and alienation. The moral confusion proceeding from the Second Vatican Council further fueled this discontent.

Many of these women who became sexualized at a young age by Rock 'n' Roll music, who married early, who were on the birth control pill, and who also doubted their Faith, eventually left their husbands and became sexually liberated feminists who demanded entry into the workforce in the formerly male-dominated professions. The traditional female sex-role of a homemaker was greatly attenuated by the relative lack of children in the 1960s. Betty's famous book did not start Feminism, but was just the push that sent an already unstable society over the edge. Why be dependent on some man or be responsible for children when you can be free and make your own money, spending as you choose?

For young men also, women became objectified, and Playboy centerfolds were a high standard of beauty coupled with easy sexuality. Popular music was no longer shackled to the desires of women, but became the domain of men who wanted to collect as many women as possible. Now, pregnancy was no longer a major fear, so a young man no longer needed to have a sense of responsibility. The Church seemed to lower its standards of morality, and the apparent desacaralization of the Mass made it seem hardly worth attending anymore. Why be stuck with the same boring broad when there were plenty of loose chicks around?

The Communist threat was still great in the 1960s. Marxists like Friedan probably would have wanted the United States to capitulate to the Soviets, but if not, they still wanted a Socialist system where every adult was working in a paid position. They also like equality of wages for all workers. Under this system, children should not be allowed to be raised in the home, but were to be the wards of the State as soon as possible, so as to mold the next generation of Socialist Man. Women had to work under Socialism, and so marital bonds should be weak under this system, and certainly raising children was denigrated. Also, to the atheist, pleasure is often the Greatest Good, so sexuality outside of marriage was encouraged.

Capitalists like this new system of working women also. A quickly-growing pool of workers means a lowering of the average wage. A greater number of workers means a larger economy, an expanded consumer sector, and greater ability to accumulate wealth. Where once public morality dictated that a man should be able to support a large family on a single paycheck, now a middle-class lifestyle with even a smaller family requires two incomes. At one time, a man who was single tended to get paid less than a married man with many children; the feminists' demand of "equal pay for equal work" destroyed this old system: young women entering the workforce demanded salary equality with older married men. The concept of a "living wage", promulgated by Pope Pius XI to allow heads of households the means to support a family, was now effectively dead; the minimum wage, which does not take need into consideration, is a bad alternative.

The State likes this new system also: more workers means more tax revenue. More women demanding special protections under the law means more regulatory action from the government. But paying for a vast military to deter the Soviet Union led the United States to adopt the Soviet system of working women. Ironically, a single United States agency subsidized both the right-wing National Review and the left-wing Ms. magazines, at the same time: the former promoted the growth of the economy, and the latter promoted a larger working force in that same economy.

Like public education, it's a win-win situation. If Socialists and Capitalists alike will benefit from a new system, it will almost certainly happen, and if the government gets into the action, it will quickly become a matter of law.

Both systems of thought are based on Cartesian subjectivism...what feels good for me? Neither system uses rational judgment when it comes to society as a whole, and lacks a public morality; instead society is seen as groups of competing interests, locked in a Darwinian struggle, fighting for supremacy. Children are seen as nuisance, something to be avoided, and immigration is used to make up the population loss, furthering societal instability.

The Catholic view has the family as the basic unit of governance in a society. Business, trade associations, government, and labor should all cooperate responsibly to ensure that a family can be supported by just one worker with a reasonable number of work hours a week. Marriage should be relatively late, with both spouses being mature and well-formed morally. Children should be freely accepted in a marriage, and a society should have a self-sustaining population. Government programs should be administered and funded at the lowest level of society as possible. Stability of marriage, society, and employment should be promoted. Children should be loved and nurtured in the home by their parents, and schooling outside of the home should only take place when the children reach the age of reason. Government should promote public morality and charity.

Betty Friedan can be credited or blamed for much of the massive change in society of the past forty years. Public as well as private morality is now lost, as is the sense of charity that was once enshrined by law and custom. May she rest in peace.

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