It's exceedingly rare that we do something like this, but then again, it was an exceedingly rare human being who died today. This has nothing to do with music, unless you take a very broad view of the term - the great dance that brings us all together, the song which is our lives, all that sort of thing. Well: sometimes we do take just that view.
Betty Friedan died today. She was eighty-five years old. Eighty-five is plenty of time to spend in a world like this one, so we don't complain that she was taken too soon from us. Rather we mourn the loss of a person whose impact on the world, and more particularly on American culture, was so great that it would take real effort to overstate it. This isn't to say that that impact won't be grossly distorted in the days to come; there will be much saliva sprayed by such op-ed mouthbreathers as yearn for a time when single mothers had to throw themselves on the mercy of the state or beg for charity. These people deserve the constant aggravation you see on their faces and in the thobbing veins of their necks. We wish them ill tonight.
It was Betty Friedan who pointed out to American men and women that there was really no reason a woman couldn't be anything she wanted to be. It was rather radical, in 1963, to suggest that a woman could be perfectly happy with neither a husband nor a child to her name. Suffrage gave woman the vote; Betty Friedan gave them hope, and the power to dream, and in so doing she brought us all a step closer to liberation. For if we tolerate a world in which our mothers — and our sisters; and our daughters, and our wives; our closest friends and dearest companions — are not free to follow their dreams and to chase down their passions, in short to seek out their true selves, then that world is a paltry thing, and our own lives within it are greatly diminished.
The school of thought that Betty Friedan set in motion came to be called feminism. Much damage has been done to its name over the past twenty years or so, largely by people who don't understand what it means ("the radical notion that women are human beings," a phrase from an old bumper sticker, sums the truth of it up nicely) but who, make no mistake, would not like it any better if they did. Such people aren't just my enemies, nor only yours. They the enemies of freedom itself. Betty Friedan, you spent much of your life reducing the power of such people, and we are all better for it. Though it can do you no good in your final rest, I thank you all the same. I owe you. We all do. Rest well.
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» In memorium of Betty Friedan from Les Faits de la Fiction
I’m posting this a day too late perhaps, but I thought I’d link to the eloquent and passionate eulogy for Betty Friedan composed by John Darnielle over at Last Plane to Jakarta. Darnielle’s prose managed to sum up most of my feelings,... [Read More]