I first read The Feminine Mystique when I was in high school. Mom Pony had a battered old copy, underlined and highlighted. She had clearly enjoyed and thought a great deal about this book, and I'm sure it influenced the way that she raised me and my sister. It certainly helped me to look at the world with new eyes, even though it was thirty years old when I read it. Friedan's book taught me to look systematically at the portrayal of women in media and to define freedom as the ability to make one's own decisions. It was from her that I learned to look critically at the female characters and authors represented in my sophomore English class and to realize just how few there were. It was from her that I learned how to think about female choice and agency, an issue that informs much of my own writing.
Because of what Betty Friedan wrote, because of the movement it started, I am able to write this from the computer lab of a school where I am earning a master's degree in a field where I will soon go on to earn a doctorate. I do not face discrimination or barriers in this field because of my gender. We are currently questioning the assumption that all a woman can do is to be a housewife and consumer. No one prevents me from studying whatever I want, no one insists that I earn an MRS before even thinking about a Ph.D.
Betty Friedan was a driving force that led to the state of affairs I currently enjoy. She will be sorely missed.