remembered as feminist pioneer
At funeral, family recalls feisty mother as
'mass of contradictions'
Monday, February 6, 2006; Posted: 5:36 p.m. EST
NEW YORK (AP) -- Betty Friedan, who championed the once-radical assertion
that women needed more than husbands and
children to find fulfillment, was eulogized
Monday as a feminist pioneer and loving mother
-- if not always an easy one to live with.
"I truly believe that
Betty Friedan was the most influential woman, not only
of the 20th century but of the second millennium," said
Muriel Fox, one of the co-founders with Friedan of the
National Organization for Women.
Colleagues from the women's movement as well as her
three children and their families were among more than
300 mourners at the funeral for Friedan, who died of
congestive heart failure Saturday on her 85th birthday.
(Watch: The life of an author and activist -- 2:41)
Friedan's son Jonathan remembered his mother hard at
work writing "The Feminine Mystique" -- the 1963
manifesto that shattered the cozy Ozzie-and-Harriet
ideal of the prosperous postwar era -- while her three
children bounced around their New York City apartment.
"Betty was not the perfect mother," he said. "Emily,
Daniel and I ate TV dinners growing up way beyond the
But when tens of thousands of people cheered his mother
at a rally when he was 17, "my heart, despite its
adolescent shell, burst with pride."
Friedan's daughter, Dr. Emily Friedan, called her mother
"a mass of contradictions."
"She made so many connections and yet was exquisitely
lonely," she said. "Maybe the ultimate contradiction was
that Betty just didn't fit into this world. That was her
curse, and yet she started a revolution."
Former Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman said she struggled to
keep up with Friedan at women's rights marches because
Friedan "had enough energy for all of us."
"Betty liberated our minds, and the gift of freedom is
one of the most important things that we can have,"
Several speakers remembered Friedan as a loving person
who could also be feisty and difficult.
"She was always very sweet and loving to me, but when it
came to other people she just didn't take any
[expletive] from anyone," said her 23-year-old grandson,
Raphael Friedan. "She was definitely the coolest
grandmother that a young guy like me could ask for."
He recalled how his grandmother took him to Cuba and let
him throw big parties at her summer house in Sag Harbor
on Long Island.
Six of Friedan's nine grandchildren accompanied her
plain wooden coffin out of Riverside Memorial Chapel
after the service. She was to be buried in Sag Harbor.
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