To understand the contemporary feminism one has to be steeped in marxist theory. In short, a great deal of feminism is not about women at all. On the left and right tracks of modern politics women’s interests are boxcars for socialist and or communist cargo. More conspiratorial theories might try to tie feminism to crony capitalists profiting from the “abortion complex.” I make no such claims here, knowing that capitalism is abused by the left and right even if “abortion rights” is an uniquely left-wing platform. Meanwhile, it’s one of the plainest features of the history of feminism that marxists have largely commandeered feminism, being about half of the first wave of feminism (late 19th-early 20th cent.), growing into the majority by the 2nd wave of feminism (mid-20th cent-1980’s), and becoming the establishment norm by the 3rd wave of feminism (1980’s-current). I welcome your dispute here. But I challenge you to do a deep search into the history of feminism, especially those movements described by the “1st, 2nd, and 3rd wave” terminology (see here).
Fortunately, there is no controlled market on ideas. Ideas like freedom, gender, family, justice, motherhood, equality, and dignity enjoy a free market where competing interpretations of these can be bandied about and compete against each other. The free market of ideas is perhaps even more sacred and central to conservatism than the free market economy. In that free market of ideas there is a real and growing presence of conservative feminism. Strictly speaking, any “pro-women” positioning is feminist. There is no intrinsic tie to “women’s interests” and “leftist politics.” If you support or oppose abortion you can be a kind of feminist. You can be a feminist if you believe in employer provided contraception or if you don’t think your boss should have any stake in your bedroom behavior. If you believe “women’s interests” are predominately matters of contraception and abortion, or if you believe that women’s interests include national and state debt, job markets, and tax rates–you can still be a feminist. If you oppose traditional family or support it, you can be a feminist. If you think women shouldn’t own guns and somehow should be just as safe as otherwise or you think women should be empowered to protect themselves by wider gun-ownership–you can be a feminist either way.
But let’s be clear. I’m not arguing here that both ends of the political spectrum are valid, nor that marxist feminists are ultimately right, okay, or otherwise excused for the sake of “good intentions.” I’m affirming tolerance in the classic sense, not the modern sense. That is, we all have the right to be wrong in our speech, our ideas, and our writing and that includes facing the consequences of the ideas we espouse. I have a great deal of faith in free markets, when they are genuinely free, to vet out bad ideas and that includes dangerous, debilitating and dumb ideas that sometimes swirl into the subject of feminism.
If you think women should have justice and a real and meaningful sense of equality and dignity before the eyes of the law, but you aren’t convinced that that marxist strands of feminist have the right idea, let me recommend to you some conservative forms of feminism.
Some Conservative Feminist Books and Articles:
Phyllis Schlafly Who Killed The American Family? (2014)
Kate Pavlich Assault and Flattery (2014)
Christina Hoff Summers Freedom Feminism (2013)
Susan Venker and Phyllis Schlafly The Flipside of Feminism (2011)
Ronnie Schreiber Righting Feminism (2008)
Kate O’Beirne Women who Make the World Worse (2005)
Christina Hoff Summers Who Stole Feminism? (1994)