If you believe that women should have equal rights, bow your head in honor of Betty Friedan, who died on Feb. 4, her 85th birthday.
Friedan's 1963 best-seller, "The Feminine Mystique," challenged the view that women could find fulfillment only in suburban domesticity: baking brownies, choosing color-coordinated curtains and keeping their husband's dinner warm until all hours of the night.
In the 21st century, that may not seem revolutionary. But it's easy to forget that in the 1950s, a woman's place was in the home. Birth control was illegal, pregnant women were routinely fired from their jobs and young girls who played sports were disparaged as "tomboys" -- if they were allowed to play at all.
Friedan did more than write one of the century's most influential books, however. She helped organize the major organizations of the women's movement: the National Organization for Women in 1966, the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws in 1969 (now called Naral Pro-Choice America) and the National Women's Political Caucus in 1971.
"I realized that it was not enough just to write a book," she said in a PBS interview several years ago. "There had to be social change. There had to be organization, and there had to be a movement."
She was no saint. She had a difficult personality, and she alienated lesbians and radical feminists with her attacks on sexual politics. But she was nonetheless a pioneer.
The passing of a pioneer is never a happy moment. It provides a chance, however, to tally victories and to renew one's commitment to overcoming remaining challenges.
The successes are many. Despite the complexity surrounding the term "feminism," there is little dispute that women should have the same political and legal rights as men.
Daycare, once a dirty word in America, is now an accepted part of life.
Women are senators, Supreme Court justices and brain surgeons.
Young fathers routinely share responsibilities, such as changing diapers and wiping runny noses.
For these victories, we should all be thankful.
Unfortunately, challenges abound.
The right to abortion, which Friedan believed was essential to securing women's equality, may not last the decade.
Women still earn only about 77 cents for every dollar that men earn, and the figures are far worse for African-American and Latina women.
Above all, young women are increasingly being told that they cannot have it all, and that they must choose between a career and a family. The media, rather than exposing how the American workplace is loath to institute family-friendly policies that can benefit men and women alike, is again glamorizing housework and housewives.
Even from the grave, Friedan can offer advice -- complete with a sense of humor. As she told an interviewer in 1963, "Some people think I'm saying, 'Women of the world unite -- you have nothing to lose but your men.' It's not true. You have nothing to lose but your vacuum cleaners."
Barbara Miner is a Milwaukee-based journalist who writes frequently on women's issues. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.