In 1962, future Pulitzer Prize–winning author Alex Haley sat down with jazz musician Miles Davis for what would become an institution of American journalism—the Playboy Interview. To celebrate the Interview’s 50th anniversary, Playboy has culled 50 of its most (in)famous Interviews and will publish them over the course of 50 weekdays (from September 4, 2012 to November 12, 2012) via Amazon’s Kindle Direct platform. Here, a glimpse at our conversation with feminist crusader Betty Friedan from the September 1992 issue.
“Women are the people who give birth to children, and that is a necessary value in society. For the great majority of women, no feminism that was opposed to family would work. I never believed that feminism was opposed to family. Feminism implied an evolution of the family. Feminism was not opposed to marriage and motherhood. It wanted women to be able to define themselves as people and not just as servants to the family. You want a feminism that includes women who have children and want children because that’s the majority of women.”
“When women are not people, when they are full of impotent rage directed against themselves, sex is not going to be lots of fun—for their partners or for them. The erotic experiences of many women were twisted by their self-images. And, of course, men played along with it, mostly because they didn’t know differently. Masochism and self-denigration were considered normal sexuality for women. Before that, frigidity.”
“I’m not sure it’s true that successful women seem as macho as any of their male counterparts. But when you are the first woman in any field, it’s very hard not to follow the male model. There is no other model. It’s only when women approach critical mass that you begin to see them show characteristics of leadership that really use the qualities associated with women.”
“Sexual liberation is a misnomer if it denies the personhood of women. The first wave of so-called sexual liberation in America, where women were passive sex objects, was not real liberation. For real sexual liberation to be enjoyed by men and women, neither can be reduced to a passive role. When a woman is a sex object, it limits a man’s enjoyment, too. Maybe some people still haven’t caught on, but the best sex requires a deeper, more profound knowledge of oneself and the other person. In the Bible, sexual love was to know. It suggests something deeper. That is why the women’s movement had to happen for sexual liberation to be real.”
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