Rachel Shteir: Betty Friedan: Magnificent Disrupter (Jewish Lives)

Rachel Shteir: Betty Friedan: Magnificent Disrupter (Jewish Lives)

March 14, 2024
7:00 PM

Purchase Tickets

Thursday, March 14 | 7:00 PM | In Person | $18

In commemoration of Women’s History Month, The Lessans Family Literary Series is delighted to welcome Rachel Shteir for her presentation of her book, Betty Friedan: Magnificent Disrupter (Jewish Lives).  Rachel will be in conversation with local community member and author Deborah Kalb.


Feminist writer and activist Betty Friedan (1921 – 2006), and path breaking author of The Feminine Mystique, was powerful and polarizing. In this biography, the first in more than twenty years, author Rachel Shteir draws on Friedan’s papers and on interviews with family, colleagues, friends, and rivals to create a nuanced portrait. Friedan, born Bettye Naomi Goldstein, chafed at society’s restrictions from an early age. As a journalist she covered racism, sexism, labor, class inequality, and antisemitism. As a wife and mother, she struggled to balance her work and homemaking. Her malaise as a housewife and her research into the feelings of other women resulted in The Feminine Mystique (1963), which made her a celebrity. Using her influence, Friedan cofounded the National Organization for Women and many other women-centered organizations. She fought for the Equal Rights Amendment, universal childcare, and workplace protections for mothers, but she disagreed with the women’s liberation movement over “sexual politics.” Her volatility and public conflicts fractured key relationships. Shteir considers how Friedan’s Judaism was essential to her feminism and tells why she left so much undone. This is a new Friedan for a new era of women.


Rachel Shteir is the author of three previous books, Striptease: The Untold History of the Girlie Show, Gypsy: The Art of the Tease, and The Steal: A Cultural History of Shoplifting. Her work has appeared in many magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. She is the founder and head of the Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism Program at the Theatre School at DePaul University. She holds a DFA in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism from the Yale School of Drama and a BA in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from the University of Chicago.


Deb­o­rah Kalb is the author of the nov­el Off to Join the Cir­cus, her debut nov­el for adults. She has writ­ten fic­tion for kids and non­fic­tion for adults, and she is the host of the blog Book Q&As with Deb­o­rah Kalb, where she inter­views an eclec­tic range of authors. A for­mer long­time D.C.-based jour­nal­ist cov­er­ing Con­gress and pol­i­tics, she lives in the Wash­ing­ton, D.C., area.

Questions? Contact Marcie Blackman at 301.348.3808 or mblackman@benderjccgw.org.

     Maryland State Arts Council