The Thinking 

Conservative Feminism

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How Sexual Liberation Can be Reversed

November 18, 2009


JOEL writes:

I’m not sure how conservatives, such as yourself, can object to teen pregnancies, such as Bristol Palin’s. While I agree that single-motherhood is horribly destructive to the fabric of society, I cannot see how preaching and pontificating makes any difference in its inexorable march. As the average age of first marriage steadily increases, what you are asking is for individuals to forego having sex until their thirties, given that the average age of first marriage is now that high in some coastal cities. Recently, I was speaking with some older social conservative types, I live in Seattle, and joked that the reason my peers don’t vote Republican is that “Republicans are the people who don’t want anyone to have sex until thirty-five”, and, with the social reality in big cities, that assessment is not far from the truth.

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Why Not Support Palin?

October 17, 2009


In the following exchange, a reader challenges my comments about Sarah Palin. I present what I believe to be the traditionalist woman’s case against Palin for president.  

Elizabeth P. writes:

Many of your comments I find great rapport with, until I read the one concerning Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, and their husbands [see preceding entry].

It is perhaps stretching it a bit to say that Sarah Palin is a dedicated mother in the light of the unhappy events surrounding her daughter. But there have sadly been many families who have had a daughter go astray in the area of morality, and hopefully everyone is sadder yet wiser and forgiven as well. So to out-and-out say that she is not a dedicated mother is, I believe, a bit uncharitable.

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The Conservative Man Holds the Purse

October 15, 2009



A G.O.P. Agitator Whose Name Is Not Palin

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, New York Times


Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, of Minnesota, was the subject of a profile yesterday in the New York Times. She is an up-and-coming Republican star.  In her recent statements on health care reform, she has questioned the Constitutional authority for a federal mandate on health insurance. Bachmann, who is pretty and a frequent guest on cable news shows, has been accused of spreading “reckless lies” by Democrats. This speaks well to her honesty and principles. 

I like many of the public statements Bachmann has made, except for this:

 “Sarah Palin is a dedicated mother, committed public servant and strong political figure who has fought hard to protect life, the family budget, and freedom.”

Palin is not a dedicated mother and has done nothing to support the family budget, which has been decimated by the sort of feminism Palin exemplifies. Bachmann, by the way, has five children. Her husband, in a nice reversal of roles, is a clinical therapist, and they have reportedly taken in some 23 foster children. This is the conservative feminist ideal:  hyper-domesticity and hyper-careerism at the same time. Plus a man who holds the purse.

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Conservative Feminism

August 30, 2009


Conservatives have long tried to have it both ways when it comes to feminism. They aggressively attack the silliness of women studies departments and the absurdities of feminist chic. At the same time, they happily embrace careerism in women. They secretly believe a benign feminism is possible and that they might go on lampooning radical feminism without any logical contradictions and without offending any of the working women they know, including their own wives and daughters.

But, the truth is careerism in women is inseparable from extreme feminism. It is not possible for a society to exalt two mutually exclusive models. Either it must support careerism in women, with the provision that family life be just a beautiful hobby, or it must support the devotion of women to family, home and community.

Here is a typical example of mainstream conservative feminism. In his 1996 book, Slouching Towards Gomorrah, Robert H. Bork decries the worst of feminism in academics and the military. He then attacks the devaluation by feminists of the homemaking role. He says,

“It is fine that women are taking up careers, but the price for that need not be the demoralization of women who do not choose that path.”

This statement is illogical. If it is fine that women are taking up careers, then it is fine that they are abandoning homemaking. You can’t have it both ways, Mr. Bork. Society will only respect the traditional role of women if society considers it not fine that women are taking up careers.

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