Betty Friedan is remembered in American history as a titan of twentieth-century feminism. She published The Feminine Mystique in 1963, presenting herself as a simple housewife wishing to be liberated from the supposed patriarchy. However, a friend of Friedan named David Horowitz began to suspect that her political experience may have gone beyond being just a feminist-sympathizing housewife.
Horowitz began to suspect she may have had experience in American Communism after noticing her use of communist community organizing skills during her professorship at the University of South California in the 80s. After some digging, Horowitz discovered that Friedan had taken courses on socialism as a student, was investigated by the FBI for alleged communist ties in the 50s, published articles in labor newspapers under her maiden name, and participated in rent protests.
When Horowitz inquired to Friedan about her history, she reacted strongly, stating that Horowitz would not be given access to her private papers. Should she discover that he somehow accessed them, Friedan assured Horowitz that legal action would follow.
Carrie Gress, author of the anti-feminist book The End of Woman, goes through Friedan’s political involvement before becoming a feminist icon. Gress states that “there was very little about her life that was not somehow intertwined with communist or progressive politics.”
Friedan even wrote that women were trapped by capitalism because they “wielded seventy-five percent of the purchasing power in America.” Women were spending too much money, and Communists were concerned that this was too empowering for Capitalism.
Betty Friedan’s feminist writings and advocacy were part of a larger project for communist control. 20th-century American Communism sought to win the hearts and minds of American women for their cause by appealing to manufactured feminist discontent. Friedan is evidence that Communism and feminism go hand-in-hand, and that liberation from the patriarchy comes packaged together with liberation from capitalism. Friedan’s hiding of this fact indicates the pernicious nature of Communism, desperate to infect and tear apart the American family.