Tonight I read the first of several introductions to my recently-purchased copy of The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. As part of a project I’m working on, I’ll be reading several classic works of feminism (The Beauty Myth is next on the list).

I grew up in a post-suffrage society; first-wave feminism had made its mark and become normalized. But even though second-wave feminism had also largely arrived by my first years of intellectual cognizance, in the sub-culture of conservative evangelicalism it had yet to take root. The third wave was still just a gleam in the eye of sexually-independent women everywhere, but somehow I missed that, too.

My upbringing may have protected me from outside ideas more effectively than I originally thought. Or possibly I was too busy with other pursuits during my young adulthood to give much thought to the tangle of competing post-modern ideas reshaping feminism at the time.

Whatever the reason, I now find myself with a need to absorb and synthesize the history of feminism as it has developed since the 1920s. Betty Friedan’s seminal Civil-Rights Era work seems like the right place to start.