Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin
queerbychoice

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Coretta Scott King and Betty Friedan

I don't understand why so many queer women are grieving the death of Betty Friedan. I mean, it's not like I wished death on her, but I don't feel that I owe her any particular gratitude for having promoted the rights of women on the condition that the women promise to be exclusively heterosexual. I feel a lot more gratitude toward Coretta Scott King than toward Betty Friedan, but I've seen a ton of people posting LiveJournal entries about how sad they are that Betty Friedan died, and I haven't seen even one person on LiveJournal mention the death of Coretta Scott King.

I'm sure this has something to do with the fact that I read a lot more journals of women than of people of African descent, and those are the groups whose rights Betty Friedan and Coretta Scott King, respectively, are perceived to have stood for. But really, people stand for more than one thing at a time. Almost everyone whose LiveJournal I ever so much as glance at is queer, and queer rights was a very significant part of what both Betty Friedan and Coretta Scott King stood for: opposing queer rights in Betty Friedan's case, and supporting queer rights in Coretta Scott King's case.

And yes, the right wing pressured the women's rights movement to prove its homophobia in a way that the right wing did not similarly pressure the black rights movement - but all the same, Betty Friedan gave in to those pressures. I hold her responsible for that. The lesbians of her era experienced much the same treatment from her that queer by choice people like me currently experience from groups like PFLAG and the Human Rights Campaign, which similarly exist supposedly to promote my rights as a queer person yet focus so much of their energy on spreading hostile misinformation about queer by choice people. Their message is: You only have the right to be treated equally as a queer person if you promise to be a type of queer person that we deem acceptable, and don't go off doing anything weird or unusual like saying you chose to be queer. Similarly, Betty Friedan's message was: You only have the right to be treated equally as a woman if you promise to be a type of woman that we deem acceptable, and don't go off doing anything weird or unusual like wanting to have sexual relationships with other women. I don't feel that I owe any gratitude to anybody who spent their life promoting either of these messages.
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