Heroines are dropping like flies. It has indeed been a black week.
Wendy Wasserstein died on Monday January 30 of lymphoma at the age of 55. Her plays, including The Heidi Chronicles, The Sisters Rosensweig and Uncommon Women and Others "chronicled the feminist struggles and successes of the baby-boomer generation." As a loyal Mount Holyoke College alumna, I should note that Wasserstein graduated from Mount Holyoke in 1971. The ironic title of her play, Uncommon Women and Others, is taken from a speech by a past Mount Holyoke president who claimed that it was a college of "uncommon women."
Coretta Scott King died on Tuesday January 31 at the age of 78. She worked side-by-side with Martin Luther King, Jr. during the most contentious and difficult period of the Civil Rights Movement. She carried on his legacy after he died, becoming a civil rights leader in her own right. In recent years, King also declared gay marriage to be an important civil rights issue, a position I understand to be controversial among black civil rights leaders.
Betty Friedan died yesterday, Friday February 4, at the age of 85. She was one of the founding mothers of the modern feminist movement and author of The Feminine Mystique, published in 1963. "A woman has got to be able to say, and not feel guilty, `Who am I, and what do I want out of life?' She mustn't feel selfish and neurotic if she wants goals of her own, outside of husband and children," Friedan said. It's amazing how this simple statement still remains controversial! She also said, "For a great many women, choosing motherhood makes motherhood itself a liberating choice." (emphasis added).