Thursday, March 14, 2013


I’ve been rereading The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. She wrote the book in 1963 and this is the 50th anniversary of its publication. In the 1997 edition, she wrote a preamble “Metamorphoses”. By then, her book had been a catalyst of the 1970’s Women’s Liberation movement and much had changed in women’s roles in society. “The problem that has no name” had largely been resolved. By then, women were participating fully in society outside of their homes holding jobs and getting elected to public office, enrolling in professional schools and defining their own destinies.

Yet, even as much had changed, Betty Friedan was prescient enough to see the backlash starting from those who abhorred or felt threatened by the changes and predicted that the backlash would polarize society. She herself had retreated from her earlier militancy and suggested changes that would humanize the workplace for men, women, and children. She was a leader of her time and she can be credited with much of the progress made.    

Nevertheless, even though the “Women Libbers” of the 1970’s were able to get much changed, much remains to be done. Betty Friedan was one of the people who advocated re-introducing the Equal Rights Amendment. As far back as Abigail Adams admonishing her husband John Adams to “remember the ladies,” women were only remembered once in the Constitution when the 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote. The Equal Rights Amendment was proposed then and again in the 1960’s and ‘70’s, but it has never become law. I participated in many marches and rallies  on its behalf during that period unfortunately in vain.(You can see more at Without the ERA being passed, all our rights are in jeopardy.

The polarization that Betty Friedan saw coming in 1997 over abortion and birth control are definitelystill with us. Just last week, Arkansas enacted a law with the strictest limits on abortion in the nation. In 26 states, laws have been proposed which would severely limit and even outlaw many forms of birth control. The supposed simplicity of the 1950’s is often glorified as a prototype in TV shows and movies.

In short, we still have work to do. There isn’t much time to cook so I’m sharing a recipe from Peace de Resistance, the Women’s Strike for Peace cookbook from that same era. Many of their recipes were quick and gave whoever is doing the cooking (more often than not women) time to get out of the kitchen and do other things. This one is my adaptation of “Mary’s Mishmash.” Prep time 10 minutes or less.

                                                     Mary's Mishmash

2 cans chicken gumbo soup
½ can water
1 can vegetable beef soup
1 can tiny shrimp (optional)
1 can corn drained
2 small tomatoes quartered or 1 can stewed tomatoes
1 can chick peas
seasoning to taste (I suggest coriander, turmeric, cumin, and garlic but put in whatever you like)

Mix all the ingredients in a big pot and cook. Serve with bread and salad. It doesn’t get easier than that.      

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