February 18, 2013

Betty Friedan v. the Lavender Menace

Lesbians wearing "Lavender Menace" t-shirts protest Betty Friedan in 1970.
Their signs say, "The Women's Movement Is a Lesbian Plot!"
A half-century after the publication of Betty Friedan's book The Feminine Mystique, her name is much in the news. I always thought the most interesting thing about her was that when she was the founding president of the National Organization for Women in 1966-1970, she publicly denounced what she called the "Lavender Menace:" the tendency for lesbians to hijack any organization with the word "women" in the title. 

Eventually, in 1977, Friedan submitted to lesbian power within the women's movement, but her many warnings in the decade before then that lesbians were taking over organized feminism make fascinating reading.

In the early 1990s, researching what became my article Why Lesbians Aren't Gay, I wanted to see if Friedan's predictions had turned out true. So, back in this pre-Web age, I joined the National Organization for Women to get their newsletter.

The post-Friedan NOW newsletter came printed in black ink, with one highlight color ... lavender ink. Much of the content was focused solely on lesbian concerns. The national leader of N.O.W. in the 1990s, Patricia Ireland, had a husband somewhere, but also a female partner who seemed to be around more.

So, score one for Betty Friedan's powers of prescience. 

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

One nice thing about living in L.A. is that the entertainment industry lesbians seem to be pretty cool women who just happen to like other ladies, rather than the really obnoxious politicized separatists you get in northern California or every college town.

One of the best film producers I know is a middle-aged lesbian who gets along really well with hypermacho directors like Michael Bay and the late Tony Scott, mainly by talking cars, cigars, and chasing girls with them.

Anonymous said...

"she publicly denounced what she called the "Lavender Menace:" the tendency for lesbians to hijack any organization with the word "women" in the title."

I guess she shushed when others pointed out that the Right had been making the same argument about Jews.
The bagel menace: Jews tend to take over every institution with the title of 'Western'.

deconstructingleftism said...

When the history of the age is written, the story of how homosexuals gained so much power will be fascinating to read. Of all the groups that have waxed since the social revolution, why would homosexuals benefit the most?

diana said...

Oh, by Lavender Menace I thought you meant Friedan's very harsh comments about male homosexuals, to be found on p. 385 in the book. You can look this up on Amazon "look inside":

"The boy smothered by such parasitical mother-love is kept from growing up....Homosexuals often lack the maturity to finish school...The shallow immaturity, promiscuity, lack of lasting human satisfaction that mark the homosexual's sex life usually characterize all his life and interests...But the homosexuality that is spreading like a murky smog over the American scene is no less ominous..."

It must be very embarrassing to read this in Women's Studies classes!

Anonymous said...

"why would homosexuals benefit the most?"

Television.

Homosexuals were always very prevalent in showbiz but showbiz always used to be marginal to the culture as a whole. As cinema and television grew to dominate the culture the influence of homosexuals grew with it.


Television completely dominates nominally democratic societies while being outside any democratic control.

(I assume the homosexual-showbiz connection is something to do with playing a role in their regular life?)

Anonymous said...

Also you can thank lesbians for killing off the feminist movement. It could have been a lot worse :)

josh said...

Isnt this whole women in combat horse-hockey really all about lesbians being eligible to rise higher in the command structure,as not being allowed in combat closes lots of options for the poor lil dears?? B) what about lesbian coaches;I hear there is a lot of non-kosher stuff going on with their nubile charges. c)No one commits domestic violence like a lesbian.No one.Yet the lesbian-feminists "own" D.V.,like they own rape. d)Note the shenanigans( why isnt this word banned?) of the lesbians at the DHS,which I refer to as the dept of homo-security?E)Dorner was set off by a lesbian who kicked some dude. Lesbians dont like us a hell of a lot. Theyre not really very nice,all in all. Thank god they have as little sexual attraction to us as we do to them...but then again I have heard some hair raising stories of dyke nuns and what they do to little boys. I read of a guy who posted to the online SNAP(Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests..sort of reminds me of the United Network Command for Law Enforcemnet,you know-UNCLE? Napoleon Solo? Illya? How the girls loved Illya. That hair. Some Russian!He was a Scott.)about his sex abuse by a nun. Some of the gals rudely attacked him,saying it was of no consequence,compared to the harm done by priests. Lesbians protect their own.F-I think) Lesbians are mad because the only girls THEY can get are usually other lesbians! Gods little joke! Had a cute feminine neighbor,she was living with a vile looking lesbian. She flirted with me,but it was the day they were moving out. Just as well--i would not want to get an ass whupping at the hands of some dour faced lezbo. No sir. Plenty of fish in the sea,nomesayne?

Oliver said...

I for one, applaud the lavender menace, as well as the gay menace that is creeping into being 'cool' among the liberals. That and a selfish focus that precludes having children. These people should not be breeding. They're doing mankind a great favor, and give hope to a brighter future.

dirk said...

An interesting point in your linked 1994 essay was to note that gay men are not very political. That doesn't seem like the case today at first glance, yet... look closer at the gay marriage zealots. There's twenty feminists rallying the cause for each gay male activist, showing that the inverse of what Friedan predicted has also occurred: not only have lesbians taken over the women's rights movement; women have taken over the gay rights movement.

After all, aren't contemporary demands for "gay rights" mainly a demand by mainly women for the redefinition of marriage? Isn't the redefinition of marriage what the women's movement has mainly been about? The few actual gay activists out there aren't getting the joke.

Anonymous said...

So, back in this pre-Web age, I joined the National Organization for Women to get their newsletter.

The Web be blessed! At least you won't need to join NAMBLA if you ever decide to write about pedophiles. :-)

Anonymous said...

Erin Pizzey, the founder of women's shelters, also had encounters of the lavender kind.


"I went to work in the Women's Liberation Work Shop in Newport Street, off Shaftesbury Avenue. I also attended the first women's conferences and I was struck by the hundreds and hundreds of women claiming to be radical militant lesbians. The first women's conferences were destroyed by violent fisticuffs between these women and most of us were very afraid of them. "

http://fathersforlife.org/pizzey/how_women_were_taught_to_hate_men.htm

"The dream materialized but with it, the awful certainty that if I attracted funds and publicity. I would hear the tramp of the man-hating feminists trying to oust me and take over. That is what happened, and the first little get together I ran to encourage other groups to open refuges was dominated by the lesbians and feminists who crowded into our little church hall and voted themselves into a national movement. We, horrified and unused to political maneuvering, abstained. 'There isn't a working-class women among you,' one of my mothers yelled. This has always been the truth of this disastrous movement. Born in ivory tower academia, it had no relevance to women on the street. 'If only you were all lesbians, you would have no problems of violence,' we were told. We often had women beaten up by their female partners in our refuge. The worst beating I ever saw was between a vicar's daughter and her lover."

Whiskey said...

Jews are not very prevalent in Silicon Valley. Most of the engineers and founders are not Jews, rather Eastern Europeans, Indians, and the like. Nor are Jews prevalent in the quant set among the hedge funds. Guys like Lloyd Blankfein at Goldman-Sachs get a lot of ink, but the real action is CT in leafy suburbs (or Gstaad) where quant guys fine tune algorithms searching for advantage. And get paid plenty.

What is really, really striking is the decline in Jews in science, and math, and medicine, and their entry into showbiz (as actors and directors and writers, not agents and managers); the law, government, NGOs, and Fortune 500 companies. Its a bet all-in on the elites and a total rejection of entrepreneurial options. Do the math: demand from the Latino/Black masses to be the elites means as Michelle Obama said, people have to give up their jobs so other people can have them. That's a poor bet -- Jewish lawyers, NGO types, Fortune 500 people, will all be the first to go so Hispanics and Blacks can have those jobs.

Meanwhile if you own your own small/midsize company that makes something, you can always flee abroad. It is by historic terms a very un-Jewish choice, and represents IMHO a complacent attitude towards American security. No borders means America is just a place on a map, and a free-for-all. A Hobbsian nightmare.

Anonymous said...

"c)No one commits domestic violence like a lesbian.No one."

So true. Very weird.

Anonymous said...

I for one, applaud the lavender menace, as well as the gay menace that is creeping into being 'cool' among the liberals. That and a selfish focus that precludes having children. These people should not be breeding. They're doing mankind a great favor, and give hope to a brighter future.

As a pantheist-evolutionist I think that's why gayness-lesbianness evolved: to remove a certain band of people from the gene pool. We are better off letting homosexuals separate themselves and not breed instead of making them marry the opposite sex as cover and breed more of their kind.

I knew William S. Burroughs Jr. slightly, he was every bit as weird as you'd think. a study of children of homosexual men would be instructive.

agnostic said...

Diana gives a great quote above. Sums up so much about the mid-century -- smothering mothers who bring up effeminate and psychologically stunted sons.

I realize that Betty Friedan was your standard neurotic Jewess and had a repulsive personality. But her work doesn't seem to have been as bad as many conservatives think.

Like Steve mentions, there was always an anti-homosexual bent to it. And she never wanted things to go in a radical direction. It was more about having more of an independent life outside of the home, including a meaningful and satisfying career.

Of course she was clueless to paint things as though men enjoyed such meaningful and satisfying careers, which women were being denied. Rather, the era that she describes is the exact same as that of the Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. Sloan Wilson and Friedan were born only one year apart.

In the local historical context, it seems like most of those who took the book's message and ran with it were the female counterparts of the Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. Rad-fem was at least a decade later, and never caught on in a mainstream way during the '70s and '80s.

Note that Wilson wrote the Man in the Gray Flannel Suit in 1955, whereas the very idea to write the Feminine Mystique didn't strike Friedan until the late '50s, and she only published her book years later still, in 1963.

So in this as in so many other societal changes, men blazed the trail out of the mid-century malaise, and risk-averse women followed behind quite a bit later, when the trail felt worn-in enough.

Anonymous said...

Betty is showing her commie roots here. She was a card carrying member of the CPUSA for many years (one of the Stalinist faithful that held on even after the brutal suppression of the Hungarian Revolt in 1956). Communism has always had a puritanical streak and sexual deviation is as frowned upon as idealogical deviation. I've always thought that Friedan was a secret follower of 'Tonio Gramsci. This Italian marxist made the empirical observatuion that communism could not compete with capitalism as an economic system and that the working classes much prefereed fascism to communism/socialism as a poloitical movement. Instead of drawing the obvious conclusion that communism sucked, Gramsci argued that communism needed to attack underlying institutions in order to destroy societies and pave the way for communist revolution. His particular targets of opportunity were the family and sexual/reproductive relations in general, religion, and community loyalties. Judged by a Gramscian perspective Friedan may be the most succesful Marxist ever, even thoght Gramscian philosophy is a Marxist heresy.

Anonymous said...

"c)No one commits domestic violence like a lesbian.No one."

So true. Very weird.


And no one blames it on White Males quite like a lesbo-fembo. Get the log out of your own eyes, and deal with lesbian domestic violence and lesbian rape. And if you tackle White Male rapists, start with your own fathers.

Anonymous said...

the working classes much prefereed fascism to communism/socialism as a political movement

Isn't that itself an admission that communism is a failure?

ben tillman said...

No one commits domestic violence like a lesbian. No one.Yet the lesbian-feminists "own" D.V.,like they own rape.

My wife's parents recently mentioned an Owsley they knew in South Texas. Knowing that the famous Owsley was from Texas, I googled her to see whether there was any connection. About the only thing I could determine was that she was a signatory to the "National Petition to Legalize Corporal Punishment of Female Spouses/Partners for Any and All Domestic Infractions", which garnered more than a million signatures, the overwhelming majority of which purport to be from women.

d)Lesbians dont like us a hell of a lot. Theyre not really very nice, all in all.

They have an annoying tendency to violate the unwritten rules of male/male interaction. Lesbians at the gym frequently cross lines that men know not to cross.

Anonymous said...

"the working classes much prefereed fascism to communism/socialism as a political movement"

Isn't that itself an admission that communism is a failure?


No, it was the dawning realization that the working class was a failure. They've sense followed through on the logic of that insight.

Cennbeorc

Anonymous said...

"Jews are not very prevalent in Silicon Valley."

They are prevalent at the top.

Holan Raturn said...

Alot of rhetoric of the left in the early 70's has been forgotten, and not be be brought up again. They seem to reinvent themselves every 3-4 years.

Anonymous said...

"When the history of the age is written, the story of how homosexuals gained so much power will be fascinating to read. Of all the groups that have waxed since the social revolution, why would homosexuals benefit the most?


Within ten years (maybe sooner), get ready for the wane.

Anonymous said...

"There's twenty feminists rallying the cause for each gay male activist, showing that the inverse of what Friedan predicted has also occurred..."

Do you recall seeing the mass demonstrations in the streets of LA and SF the day Prop 8 passed?

Gays about numbered lesbians big time. (Of course, they treated it like a party so.....no, really, the number of gay men was really high.)

Hunsdon said...

deconstructingleftism asked: Of all the groups that have waxed since the social revolution, why would homosexuals benefit the most?

Hunsdon: Good thing Whiskey showed up to point out that it wasn't the Jews, no sir. What was the line----I never watched the show, and only know it from here---from Larry David? It's not the Jews that run Hollywood, it's the gay Jews.

diana said...

"They have an annoying tendency to violate the unwritten rules of male/male interaction. Lesbians at the gym frequently cross lines that men know not to cross."

What are these lines? Not being a gym bunny I wouldn't know. What do they do, spit on the barbells? Wipe the dumbbells under their hairy armpits?

Anonymous said...

"Do you recall seeing the mass demonstrations in the streets of LA and SF the day Prop 8 passed?

Gays about numbered lesbians big time. (Of course, they treated it like a party so.....no, really, the number of gay men was really high.)"

LA and SF both have huge communities of gay men. Lesbians tend to favor Northern college towns like Ithaca, NY.

MaMu1977 said...

@Diana

During my time in the military, I worked with a grand total of two DADT personnel (1 male, 1 female.)
The male, when trying to figure out if someone was gay or not, would invite the guy to his apartment for dinner, then ask loaded questions, then kick the guy out if the answer was "No, he isn't gay." He prepared a *great* pollo asado, but my workmates had to explain the rest of his qualification process to me after our ill-fated "date".
Conversely, the female would invite herself over to other girls' dorm rooms, complain of "aggressive" guys, finangle her way into the girls' beds, then grab their breasts and/or vulvae in their sleep.

These actions were constants: guys insinuate themselves into your life slowly, girls did it quickly (if admissions over some beers at a pub count for anything.) However, they all ended the same way:
Guys-"Then, all of a sudden, 'Ben' stopped hanging out with me."
Girls-"And then I felt a finger inside of me and I remembered that I let 'Tammi' in before I fell asleep."

There's a reason for thefemale military members' disdain of homosexuality: they know that gay men (for the most part) *attempt* to gain consent before a proposition, but lesbians *don't bother to do so*.

pat said...

Let's say for the sake of argument that lesbianism is like male homosexuality in that it is caused by a infection. Specifically a toxoplasma gondi infection of the mother while pregnant. That's my hypothesis. I'm still looking for a sponsor to fund a study.

If that's true then shortly the last lesbian will be born in America. What will that mean politically?

Normal women are much less effective than men in forming politically active groups. Compare the effectiveness of the YMCA versus the YWCA. Much of feminist movement and other female political movements have been the work of lesbians, and soon, no more lesbians.

When the last lesbian dies out it will certainly be bad for the BDSM porn industry. About half of all the women being beaten in web videos are being being beaten by other women. I'm told women are less circumspect about their female slaves than men. They beat them harder.

Albertosaurus

kaganovitch said...

"Anonymous said...
the working classes much prefereed fascism to communism/socialism as a political movement

Isn't that itself an admission that communism is a failure?"

aaah, Tovarisch that is beauty of theory of false consciousness. Revolutionary vanguard know whats good for proletariat. Proletariat own opinion worthless.

helene edwards said...

For a long time one of the leaders of NOW's Northern California organization was, along with her husband, a self-defense instructor, big on close quarters combat training and firearms. Rumor has it that when they got underwater on their house, her friend Kamela Harris, the Cal. Atty. General, forced the bank to write down the mortgage by 300K.

Anonymous said...

"It's not the Jews that run Hollywood"

It's not just Jews though. What percentage of the non-Jewish white males left in the MSM *aren't* homosexual? Very few imo.

It shouldn't be surprising really. Pushing for an "anything goes" sexual culture implicitly includes tolerance of homosexuality.

Dr Van Nostrand said...

To paraphrase Chief Wiggum: Not a looker among them.

An unkind observation but as Steve pointed out that does explain so much!

Whiskey ,I dont think you would have to worry about Jews losing their control of Hollywood to the blacks and Hispanics LOL. Wall Street and Hollywood establishment own Obama and they know he owes them a solid.
If Obama really cared about blacks, he wouldnt unleash the Hispanics on them and allow them to ethnically cleanse large parts of LA and SoCal of blacks and depress the wages of poor blacks even further with cheap Mexican labor.
Obama, a white liberal in black face, cares only for the fawning praise of the smart set which includes his white baiting light skinned Reverends who choose to live all white gated communities.

But thats OT

Coming back to Lesbians and feminists: I had a great lesbian Lithuanian friend who hated feminists and to some extent women in general.She thought like a man so she was great fun.
Funnily she married an American gay male for her green card.Thats a Nora Ephron film for you!

NOTA said...

blacks : hispanics :: gays : lesbians

Gays and blacks produce an outsized number of stars--blacks produce a lot of top tier singers, sports stars, and maybe actors for their proportion of the population. Gays produce an outsized number of singers and actors and writers and artists. And so, even though blacks are no bigger a group than hispanics, and gays are a quite small group, they are extremely visible. It's easy to think of examples of highly accomplished blacks or gays.

By contrast, I think hispanics and lesbians produce a number of stars more in proportion to their fraction of the population, or maybe even a little below. There are hispanic sports stars, singers, and actors, but they're not nearly so successful overall as black stars. Similarly, there are successful lesbian women athletes (one area they are overrepresented in, but unfortunately for them, most womens' sports don't get all that much public attention), but probably no greater a fraction of lesbians are super successful actors or singers or writers than straight women.

And this probably drives a great deal of public perception via the availability heruistic and the desire of various sports and media commentators to be on good terms with the people they spend their lives following around. (I have to guess it would be quite uncomfortable to be openly anti-gay if you were trying to be a showbiz reporter--lots of gay actors and singers might just refuse to talk to you, as might their straight friends.)

SGOTI said...

" I had a great lesbian Lithuanian friend who hated feminists and to some extent women in general.She thought like a man so she was great fun.
Funnily she married an American gay male for her green card.Thats a Nora Ephron film for you!


That's either a green card, or a great name for a garage band.

Tonight, one show only: The Lesbian Lithuanians.

Doors at 9, $10 cover, $2 PBRs 'til 10.

elvisd said...


told women are less circumspect about their female slaves than men. They beat them harder.


Is there any weird nook of American society that pat/Albertosaurus has not investigated or worked in?

Dr Van Nostrand said...

NAMBLA if you ever decide to write about pedophiles. :-)"

What does the North American Marlon Brando Look Alikes organization have to do with pedophiles? How dare you besmirch such an august institution!

Dr Van Nostrand said...

re NOTA blacks and Hispanics

I think Hispanics underperform not so much because they are lazy, indeed the stereotype of say a lazy Mexican is inaccurate, those illegal immigrants dont cross over to be lounge around all day, but they lack ambition and are easily satisfied once they achieve a certain standard.

Black society is much harsher due to the lack of a viable middle class and family structure.Its either sink or swim ,and only a small minority achieve the success in athletics,music and movies and hence are the most visible.

Dr Van Nostrand said...

She flirted with me,but it was the day they were moving out. Just as well--i would not want to get an ass whupping at the hands of some dour faced lezbo. No sir. Plenty of fish in the sea,nomesayne?"

LOL, that very nearly happened to me. I remember indulging in a mildly flirtatious banter with this hot chick in a bar when I caught some dyke giving me the stink eye and going out of her way to hover next to me and scowl at me up close.

I asked the bartender what her story was and he told me that I was hitting on her on and off significant other and that I would be wise to beat a hasty retreat as she had administered a beating to men of considerably more impressive physiques than myself for doing the same.

Deciding that in this case discretion was the better part of valor, I took his advice.

Last thing I wanted was my picture in the paper next morning for fighting a lesbian over a woman whom I had known for barely 20 minutes.

This was in the late 90s when the lesbian in the story title would be somewhat interesting to readers.

Not so much since that stuff went much more mainstream.

dirk said...

""There's twenty feminists rallying the cause for each gay male activist, showing that the inverse of what Friedan predicted has also occurred..."

Do you recall seeing the mass demonstrations in the streets of LA and SF the day Prop 8 passed?

Gays about numbered lesbians big time. (Of course, they treated it like a party so.....no, really, the number of gay men was really high.)"

Let me clarify what I mean. Yes, of course, a big popular rally for gay rights is going to draw primarily gays just as a gay pride parade is going to draw primarily gays.

But what is the largest demographic group supporting gay marriage? Single women. In fact, gay marriage could lose 100% of the gay vote and hardly anybody would notice.

On college campuses, who is most promoting the idea that gay marriage is cool among their classmates? The few gay men on campus or the many single women on campus?

Anonymous said...

"What are these lines? Not being a gym bunny I wouldn't know. What do they do, spit on the barbells? Wipe the dumbbells under their hairy armpits?"

Butch lesbians will quite often do things you'd feel obliged to hit a man for - or at least i would - but you don't hit em cos they're a gurl so they never learn not to do those things like boys do before they're 12.


It's not something that comes up much outside of specific environments.

Anonymous said...

I was at that anti prop 8 march that went past the Mormon temple on the west side of LA and from what I saw it was mostly young women (lots of cuties too)

Anonymous said...

Few butch lezzos could really hold their own in a fight with a reasonably fightworthy male if he were not restrained by the societal taboo against hitting a woman. This reluctance has gotten more than one man killed and several others quite severely beaten.

There's also the fact that if you do win you will receive great social disapprobation and usually an assault charge. Therefore such individuals should simply be avoided at all costs in any setting where this could be an issue.

ben tillman said...


Butch lesbians will quite often do things you'd feel obliged to hit a man for - or at least i would - but you don't hit em cos they're a gurl so they never learn not to do those things like boys do before they're 12.

Exactly.

Nomennovum said...

I thought lesbianism was supposed to be a joke. Is it a real phenomenon?