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Women cannot advance as people unless men also help to solve the problems of sexual inequality, author and sociologist Betty Freidan told a crowd of about 850 at the ARCO Forum last night.
"We cannot go any further as women in isolation," Freidan told the audience, adding that although the help men have offered, such as doing the laundry and clearing the table, appears minimal, they should not be criticized.
Freidan, who spoke at the invitation of the Women's Student Coalition (WSC), the Radcliffe Forum and the Institute of Politics, challenged women at the University not "to fall into the trap of thinking that all the battles are won. There's no turning back in this revolution. You can't go back and become a housewife the way mommy used to--forget it. In the first place you'd be bored," she said.
Freidan said a WSC questionnaire on sex discrimination distributed at the graduate schools proves that affirmative action is in critical danger.
"You even sense in yourself that it's tenuous. You realize that while there is no overt discrimination to keep you from getting into graduate school, there's something missing that makes you uneasy," Freidan said.
The WSC plans to formulate a major report on the questionnaire in January 1980.
While Freidan stressed that women should continue the struggle for equality, she warned them against becoming "superwomen"--married women professionals who try to outdo male colleagues who have little or no responsibilities at home.
"You can't just try to please the 'powers that be' at the Law School, the Business School or the Medical School, make all A's and do it better than the boys. You just can't," she said.
The competition to surpass the male coworker has left few women with a choice in their personal and private lives, she said. "It isn't right if women are choosing or thinking not to have children for all the wrong reasons," she added.
Freidan proposed a new set of "demands for the 1980s" to approach the real problems of equality. "Society and every profession it it has got to be restructured in new terms, she added. "There have to be options for both men and women," she said.
Freidan said she sees a new respect for jobs traditionally held by women, such as nurses and secretaries. This redefinition of women's roles suggests that some men envy rather than fear women, she said. "They're envious that women can have feelings and don't have the burdens that men have," she added.
Freidan said both men and women must work together to solve the problems of the future. "If we insist on making men the enemy, they will be the enemy," she said.
"Men are still imprisoned by the need for machismo," Freidan said, adding that playing the role of constant supporter has added greater pressures to men's lives.
The author said that women have had an easier struggle for success in the working world than men because men first opened the pathways in most professions.
The definition of masculinity "is no more appropriate for men than to achieve lifelong motherhood is for women," she added.
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