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Jewish World Review June 12, 2000 / 9 Sivan, 5760

David Horowitz

David Horowitz
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Feminism's Dirty Secret -- THE PROPHETESS of women's liberation has been revealed as a liar and spouse abuser. If the personal is political – as feminists have long contended – what are the implications of this for feminism?

Friedan accused her ex-husband Carl Friedan of beating up on her, in her recent memoir Life So Far. The media ran with the story. Now Mr. Friedan has responded with a website,, in which he charges that his ex-wife was mentally disturbed and given to fits of violent rage. It was she who abused him, says Mr. Friedan, not the other way around.

The ex-Mrs. Friedan, meanwhile, has softened her charges, telling Good Morning America, "I almost wish I hadn't even written about it, because it's been sensationalized out of context. My husband was no wife-beater, and I was no passive victim of a wife-beater. We fought a lot, and he was bigger than me."

If I am more inclined to believe Mr. Friedan's side of the story, it is only because his ex-wife has a long and well-documented history of lying.

Betty Friedan presented herself in The Feminine Mystique—the 1963 book that launched modern feminism—as a suburban housewife who had never given a thought to "the woman question," until she attended a Smith College reunion which revealed the dissatisfaction of her well-educated female classmates, unable to balance traditional roles with modern careers.

But, as Smith College professor Daniel Horowitz (no relation) revealed in his book Betty Friedan and the Making of the Feminist Mystique, Betty was not very candid about the facts of her own life and the sources of her radical perspective. She was hardly a suburban housewife when she wrote those words, but a twenty-five year veteran of professional journalism in the Communist Left, where she had been thoroughly indoctrinated in the politics of "the woman question" and specifically the idea that women were "oppressed."

As Horowitz's biography makes clear, Friedan, from her college days and until her mid-thirties, was a Stalinist marxist (or a camp follower thereof), the political intimate of leaders of America's Cold War fifth column, and for a time even the lover of a young communist physicist working on atomic bomb projects with J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Not at all a neophyte when it came to the "woman question" (the phrase itself is a marxist construction), she was certainly familiar with the writings of Engels, Lenin, and Stalin on the subject and had written about it herself as a journalist for the official publication of the communist-controlled United Electrical Workers union.

Friedan: Husband batterer?

Friedan's secret was shared by hundreds of her comrades on the Left – though not, of course, by the unsuspecting American public – who went along with her charade presumably as a way to support her political agenda.

The actual facts of Friedan's life—that she was a professional marxist ideologue, that her husband supported her full-time writing and research, that she had a maid and lived in a Hudson river mansion, attending very little to household duties—were inconvenient to the persona and the theory she was determined to promote.

Even the much-abused Mr. Friedan – also a leftist -- continues to praise his wife for her political "achievements." On his website, he writes, "I am proud of what she did for the world… Betty being monstrous in pursuit of her goals doesn't bother me at all. She changed the course of history almost singlehandedly and it took a `monster' perhaps, a driven, super-aggressive, egocentric, almost lunatic dynamo to rock the world the way she did. Unfortunately, she was the same person at home, where this kind of conduct does not work."

What Mr. Friedan seems to be saying is that it was all right for his wife to abuse everyone else, but not to abuse him. This sort of thinking is typical of the Left.

The example of Betty Friedan should be a wake-up call. If we are going to restore civility and honesty to public discourse about issues like feminism, it is necessary to insist on candor from people about their political commitments. And it is important to call things by their right names.

Over and over again, the world vision of the left has failed in this century not because the ideas behind it weren’t noble or seductive, but because in practice they did not work. The vision of the left is by nature a romance of good and evil, of liberators and oppressors. Is the requirement of sustaining such a Manichaean vision the flattening of a reality that is so much more complex, and the reshaping of its narrative truth? Is the vision itself so at odds with what is, that it necessitates this lying; that it requires an underpinning of fiction to sustain its romance? More practical and prosaic minds will conclude that there is.

JWR contributor David Horowitz is editor of Front Page Magazine and the author of several books, including, Hating Whitey, Art of Political War, Radical Son : A Generational Odyssey . Comment on this article by clicking here.


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03/29/00: No reason To Glorify the Left's Legacy of Violence
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01/25/00: Intellectual Class War
01/03/00: A faith that ruined whole continents and destroyed a world of human lives
12/28/99: Brain Dead Till the End
12/14/99: Letter to the past
12/07/99: Why Republicans Lose
11/23/99: MLK is no doubt spinning in his grave
11/10/99: Finding the American Center
11/02/99: Reflections on The Road Taken and Not

© 2000, David Horowitz