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Letters: Friedan's message: good and bad

Betty Friedan, feminist spokeswoman shown in 1974.

Betty Friedan, feminist spokeswoman shown in 1974. Credit: AP

Columnist Kathleen Parker's understanding of Betty Friedan and the women's movement of 50 years ago is shallow at best [" 'Feminine Mystique': 50 and not so fabulous," Opinion, Feb. 14]. I'm writing to disabuse her of some erroneous notions about who Friedan's target was.

I am one of those women who "stampeded" into the streets after reading her book, and I've never looked back. I was not from a wealthy family, privileged and overeducated, but from a working-class background; my father was a storekeeper and my mother a stay-at-home mom.

What I became was a frustrated young woman. To get into Brooklyn College, girls needed a 92 average but boys only an 80. When I looked for jobs, I was confined to the women's section of the want ads. When I wanted to go to Barnard College -- because girls couldn't go to Columbia -- I was told that it was a waste of money because I was just going to get married and have children anyway.

That world was stifling, and Friedan spoke to every woman. It's true that she didn't specifically speak to the poor and people of color, but that doesn't invalidate her basic premise.

Barbara Mehlman, Great Neck

How refreshing to read Kathleen Parker's column. I agree that, with equal rights, come equally hard decisions that are not always beneficial for everyone.

I have been home since my first child was born 22 years ago. All the while, people asked my husband and me when I was going back to work. I know that I am one of the lucky ones who had a choice to be home caring for my own children.

It's only in the last few years, since my children have become adults and I have seen the amazing people they have become, that I have stopped trying to defend our decision, and I have been able to proudly say I have stayed home. It is plenty of work, and it is more than meaningful and fulfilling.

Valerie Aiello, Miller Place