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Remembering Betty Friedan

Feminist author Betty Friedan responds during an interview in a New York hotel, in a May 10, 2000 photo. Betty Friedan, whose manifesto "The Feminine Mystique" became a best seller in the 1960s and laid the groundwork for the modern feminist movement, died Saturday, her birthday. She was 85. (AP Photo/Jim Cooper, file)
AP (file)
This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.
One of the advantages of living into your fifties is being able to say with some certainty what things were like back in the day. Betty Friedan's funeral was yesterday, here in New York, and I've been thinking about those days when her message of feminism ricocheted through our culture.

The presumption in America for most of the twentieth century was that women should serve men. Remember, the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote wasn't passed until 1920. Even when I was in college, few women were entering professional schools. There were some doctors and some lawyers, but not nearly the numbers of today.

You'll find plenty of women who say the playing field is fairly level now, and plenty who say it's still skewed something fierce.

Women now ask, "Can you have it all — a career and a family?"

Well, we're still working on the answer, but before Betty Friedan, no one was asking the question.



Harry's daily commentary can be heard on manyCBS Radio News affiliates across the country.
By Harry Smith