List of conservative feminisms
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Because almost any feminism can have a conservative element, this list does not attempt to list feminisms simply with conservative elements. Instead, this list is of feminisms that are primarily conservative.
This list may include organizations or individuals where a conservative feminism is more readily identified that way, but is primarily a list of feminisms per se. Generally, organizations and people related to a feminism should not be in this list but should be found by following links to articles about various feminisms with which such organizations and people are associated.
- backlash feminism: see new conservative feminism in this list
- balanced feminism: see right-wing feminism in this list
- conservative feminism (in addition to various feminisms in this list and that are conservative):
- Katherine Kersten objects "that in many of their endeavors women continue to face greater obstacles to their success than men do", thus acknowledging that sexism exists, and does not reject feminism entirely but draws on a classical feminist tradition and draws on, e.g., Margaret Fuller. Kersten advocates for conservative feminism based on equality and justice defined alike for women and men and acknowledgment of historical and present injustice suffered by women. She also advocates building on Western ideals and institutions, with reform pursued slowly and cautiously and accepting that human failings mean that perfection is unattainable. Her concerns include crime and violence against women, cultural popular media's degradation of women, noncommittal sex, and poverty's feminization, but opposing affirmative action and class action litigation.
- Sarah Palin "made her case for conservative feminism" in 2010, at a meeting of the Susan B. Anthony List.
- Richard A. Posner "suggest[s]" "'conservative feminism' .... is ... the idea that women are entitled to political, legal, social, and economic equality to men, in the framework of a lightly regulated market economy." Posner tentatively argues for taxing housewives' at-home unpaid work to reduce a barrier to paid outside work (argued by D. Kelly Weisberg to be rooted in a Marxist feminist argument for waged housework) and argues for sex being a factor in setting wages and benefits in accordance with productivity, health costs with pregnancy, on-the-job safety, and longevity for pensions. Posner is against comparable worth among private employers, against no-fault divorce, for surrogate motherhood by binding contract, against rape even in the form of nonviolent sex, and for a possibility that pornography may either incite rape or substitute for it. Posner does not argue for or against an abortion right, arguing instead for a possibility but not a certainty that the fetus is "a member of society" because libertarianism and economics do not say one way or the other.[a][b][c][d] Posner argues that the differences between the genders on average include women's lesser aggressiveness and greater child-centeredness and has "no quarrel" with law being empathetic to "all marginal groups".
- domestic feminism: see old conservative feminism in this list
- equity feminism
- individualist feminism was cast to appeal to "younger women ... of a more conservative generation" and includes concepts from Rene Denfeld and Naomi Wolf, essentially that "feminism should no longer be about communal solutions to communal problems but individual solutions to individual problems", and concepts from Wendy McElroy
- Evangelical Protestant Christian profeminism ("Karen .... articulates the Evangelical [Protestant] profeminist position particularly well. Like profeminist Catholics and Jews, she feels that the women's liberation movement was a necessary response to the oppression of women. She praises the achievements of feminism in society as well as in Evangelical communities and insists that sexism persists and that further changes are necessary. Yet Karen, too, criticizes the movement for seeking to eliminate gender differences, devaluing motherhood and homemaking, and being led by extremists who do not represent ordinary American women, particularly with respect to the issues of homosexuality and abortion. Her comments on the latter two issues ... resemble ... closely the statements made by antifeminist Evangelicals.")
- National Woman's Party, in the U.S., was led by Alice Paul, described as "[articulating a] narrow and conservative version of feminism".
- new conservative feminism, or backlash feminism,[e] is arguably antifeminist and is represented by Betty Friedan in The Second Stage and Jean Bethke Elshtain in Public Man, Private Woman and anticipated by Alice Rossi, A Biosocial Perspective on Parenting. These authors do not necessarily agree with each other on all major points. According to Judith Stacey, new conservative feminism rejects the politicization of sexuality, supports families, gender differentiation, femininity, and mothering, and deprioritizes opposition to male domination.
- old conservative feminism or domestic feminism, from the 19th century
- right-wing feminism, or balanced feminism, includes the work of Independent Women's Forum, Feminists for Life of America, and ifeminists.net headed by Wendy McElroy. It generally draws on principles of first-wave feminism and against both postfeminism and academic or radical feminism, the latter being defined to include left and progressive politics, not only feminism based on gender oppression. Right-wing feminism supports both motherhood and women having careers and both individuality and biological determinism; it accepts gender equality in careers while believing that numerical equality will naturally not occur in all occupations.
- state feminism
- Womansurge: see Women's Equity Action League in this list
- Women's Equity Action League (WEAL) was formed originally by some of the more conservative members of the National Organization for Women (NOW), when NOW was viewed as radical. The members who founded WEAL focused on employment and education, and shunned issues of contraception and abortion. Its founders called it a "'conservative NOW'". Its methods were "conventional", especially lobbying and lawsuits. The departures from NOW left NOW freer to pursue reproductive freedom and the Equal Rights Amendment. "[T]he fragmentation process, as organizations broke up and reformed, .... retained women within the movement who might otherwise have left it. This is what happened in the case of NOW, when it split up over internal divisions, and new feminism was nevertheless able to retain the most conservative elements through the formation of WEAL. At first, in fact, WEAL called itself the 'right wing of the women's movement.' Another NOW spinoff, Womansurge, tended to attract older women, who felt more comfortable in it than in NOW, which was becoming more politically radical under the influence of a new younger generation of militants."
- Adam Smith, pioneer of political economy and philosopher in the 18th century
- John Stuart Mill, philosopher and political economist in the 19th century
- Herbert Spencer, political theorist and philosopher in the Victorian era
- Milton Friedman, economist in the 20th century
- This is apparently not entirely the backlash written about by feminist author Susan Faludi.
- Kersten, Katherine (Spring 1991). "What do women want? A conservative feminist manifesto". Policy Review (The Heritage Foundation) (56): 4–15.
If the conservative feminist becomes a mother, she accepts the need to make a host of sacrifices - personal, professional, and financial - for her children's sake. She expects her spouse to sacrifice as well, and decides together with him how each can best contribute to the family welfare. She believes that family roles are flexible: men can become primary caregivers, for example, while women can pursue full-time careers. But as she and her spouse make choices about family responsibilities, they take one thing as a given: their primary duty is to ensure their children's physical and emotional well-being, to promote their intellectual development, and to shape their moral characters.
- Young, Cathy (9 June 2010). "Right to be feminist: a left-wing litmus test risks losing valuable allies for the women’s movement". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 20 February 2011.
Yet the audience for a different kind of feminism – one that seeks individualistic and market-oriented solutions, rather than big-government-driven ones, and focuses on women’s empowerment rather than oppression – is clearly there. The women who embrace it are likely to transform both feminism and conservatism. The feminist movement ignores them at its peril.
- Bradley, Allan (27 June 2010). "Conservative feminism: oxymoron?". Harvard Political Review | HPRgument (blog) | (Harvard University undergraduate publication). Retrieved 20 February 2011.
Internal contradictions aside, conservative feminism is not particularly new, and it is a mistake to call it an oxymoron. It is deeply religious, of course, and it views the anti-abortion fight as one of female empowerment. The argument is simply that as women – as the motherly and feminine forces guiding our nation’s ethical compass – it is a feminine duty to defend life at its earliest stages. Women are empowered by the defense itself. This cultural theory may be out of date in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but it is at the heart of Palin’s sizeable and passionate following. And it is, in its own way, a feminist argument.
- Dillard, Angela D., Adventures in Conservative Feminism, in Society, vol. 42, no. 3, Mar./Apr., 2005, as accessed Feb. 20, 2011, & Apr. 5–9, 2012, p. 25 (seen via Academic Source Premier (EBSCOhost), as accessed Apr. 5, 2012) (DOI 10.1007/BF02802982) (author assoc. prof. history & politics, Gallatin Sch. of Individualized Study, NYU), citing Kersten, Katherine, What Do Women Want?: A Conservative Feminists Manifesto. (sic), in Policy Review (1991).
- Dillard, Angela D., Adventures in Conservative Feminism, op. cit., pp. 25 & 26.
- Dillard, Angela D., Adventures in Conservative Feminism, op. cit., p. 26 (on abortion rights, see p. 27).
- Dillard, Angela D., Adventures in Conservative Feminism, op. cit., p. 27.
- Feldmann, Linda, Sarah Palin - Feminist First, Tea Partyer Second, in The Christian Science Monitor, May 14, 2010, sec. USA / Politics, as accessed Feb. 20, 2011 (author staff writer).
- Both quotations: Posner, Richard A., Conservative Feminism, in The University of Chicago Legal Forum (ISSN 0892-5593), vol. 1989, pp. 191–192 (author judge, U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit, & sr. lecturer, Univ. of Chicago Law School).
Latter quotation from "the idea" to end: Weisberg, D. Kelly, ed., Feminist Legal Theory: Foundations (Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press, 1993 (ISBN 1-56639-029-X)), p. 7 and see pp. 6–8 (Pt. 1: The Elements of Feminist Legal Theory (Introduction)) (attributing quotation to Richard A. Posner), and pp. 99–117 (apparently excerpting Posner, Richard A., Conservative Feminism (attributing to 1989 U. Chi. Legal F. 191)) (ed. Weisberg prof. law Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco).
- Posner, Richard A., Conservative Feminism, op. cit., pp. 192–193 and see pp. 193–194.
See also Weisberg, D. Kelly, ed., Feminist Legal Theory, op. cit., p. 7 (without the rationale about reducing a barrier).
- Weisberg, D. Kelly, ed., Feminist Legal Theory, op. cit., p. 7.
- Posner, Richard A., Conservative Feminism, op. cit., pp. 195–197.
- Posner, Richard A., Conservative Feminism, op. cit., pp. 202–203.
- Posner, Richard A., Conservative Feminism, op. cit., p. 204 n. 22.
- Posner, Richard A., Conservative Feminism, op. cit., pp. 205–206.
- Posner, Richard A., Conservative Feminism, op. cit., pp. 206–207 and see p. 203 (date and marital rape).
- Posner, Richard A., Conservative Feminism, op. cit., p. 207.
- Posner, Richard A., Conservative Feminism, op. cit., p. 208 and see pp. 207–209.
- Posner, Richard A., Conservative Feminism, op. cit., p. 208 (libertarians being "conservatives in the classical liberal tradition of Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill ..., Herbert Spencer ... and Milton Friedman", per id., p. 191.
- Posner, Richard A., Conservative Feminism, op. cit., p. 215.
- Both quotations: Posner, Richard A., Conservative Feminism, op. cit., p. 217.
- Siegel, Deborah, Sisterhood, Interrupted: From Radical Women to Grrls Gone Wild (N.Y.: Palgrave Macmillan, 1st ed. 2007 (ISBN 978-1-4039-8204-9)), p. 123 and see pp. 122–124 & nn. 32–34 (author Ph.D., writer & consultant on women's issues, & fellow, Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership).
- Manning, Christel J., God Gave Us the Right: Conservative Catholic, Evangelical Protestant, and Orthodox Jewish Women Grapple with Feminism (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers Univ. Press, 1999 (ISBN 0-8135-2599-3)), p. 190 (author asst. prof. religious studies, Sacred Heart Univ., Fairfield, Conn.).
- Echols, Alice, Daring to Be Bad: Radical Feminism in America: 1967–1975 (Minneapolis, Minn.: Univ. of Minn. Press (American Culture ser.), 1989 (ISBN 0-8166-1787-2)), p. 12 (author then visiting asst. prof. history, Univ. of Ariz. at Tucson).
- Stacey, Judith, The New Conservative Feminism, in Feminist Studies, vol. 9, no. 3 (Autumn, 1983), p. 559.
- Stacey, Judith, The New Conservative Feminism, op. cit., p. 574.
- Rossi, Alice, A Biosocial Perspective on Parenting, in Daedalus 106 (special issue on the family, Spring, 1977), as cited in Stacey, Judith, The New Conservative Feminism, op. cit., p.  n. 3.
- Stacey, Judith, The New Conservative Feminism, op. cit., pp. 562 & 567–568.
- Stacey, Judith, The New Conservative Feminism, op. cit., pp. 561–562.
- Stacey, Judith, The New Conservative Feminism, op. cit., p. 575 & n. 53, citing, e.g., Epstein, Barbara Leslie, The Politics of Domesticity: Women, Evangelism, and Temperance in Nineteenth-Century America (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan Univ. Press, 1981), Sklar, Kathryn Kish, Catharine Beecher: A Study in American Domesticity (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1973), & DuBois, Ellen Carol, Feminism and Suffrage: The Emergence of an Independent Women's Movement in America, 1848–1869 (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1978).
- Bailey, Courtney, 'Taking Back the Campus': Right-Wing Feminism as the 'Middle Ground' , in Feminist Teacher, vol. 16, no. 3 (2006), p. 173.
- Bailey, Courtney, 'Taking Back the Campus' , op. cit., p. 175.
- Bailey, Courtney, 'Taking Back the Campus' , op. cit., p. 177.
- Bailey, Courtney, 'Taking Back the Campus' , op. cit., esp. p. 176.
- Bailey, Courtney, 'Taking Back the Campus' , op. cit., p. 174 n. 3.
- Bailey, Courtney, 'Taking Back the Campus' , op. cit., pp. 180–181.
- Bailey, Courtney, 'Taking Back the Campus' , op. cit., pp. 181–182.
- Bailey, Courtney, 'Taking Back the Campus' , op. cit., p. 182.
- Castro, Ginette, trans. Elizabeth Loverde-Bagwell, American Feminism: A Contemporary History (N.Y.: N.Y. Univ. Press, 1990 (ISBN 0-8147-1448-X)), p. 62 and see pp. 216–218 (trans. from Radioscopie du féminisme américain (Paris, France: Presses de la Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques, 1984) (French)) (author prof. Eng. lang. & culture, Univ. of Bordeaux III, France).
- Siegel, Deborah, Sisterhood, Interrupted: From Radical Women to Grrls Gone Wild, op. cit., p. 83.
- Castro, Ginette, trans. Elizabeth Loverde-Bagwell, American Feminism, op. cit., p. 176 ("new feminism" probably the author's term not referring to the new feminism related to Roman Catholicism but perhaps to second-wave feminism generally) (fragmentation prob. referring to late 1960s–early 1970s in U.S.).
- Dworkin, Andrea, Right-Wing Women: The Politics of Domesticated Females (N.Y.: Coward-McCann (also Wideview/Perigee Book), 1983)
- Young, Cathy, Ceasefire!: Why Women and Men Must Join Forces to Achieve True Equality (N.Y.: Free Press, 1999 (ISBN 0-684-83442-1)); she argues for a "philosophy" (id., p. 10 (Introduction: The Gender Wars)) and "do[es]n't know if this philosophy should be called feminism or something else" (id., p. 11 (Introduction))
- Grant, Jane, Confession of a Feminist, in The American Mercury, vol. LVII, no. 240, Dec., 1943, pp. 684–691.
- Kersten, Katherine, What Do Women Want?, in Policy Review, issue 56, Spring, 1991
- Klatch, Rebecca, Women of the New Right
- Lee, Martha F., Nesta Webster: The Voice of Conspiracy, in Journal of Women's History, vol. 17, no. 3 (Fall, 2005), p. 81 ff. (biography including on feminism)
- Burfitt-Dons, Louise, The successes and failures of feminism, on Conservative Home Jan 4, 2014 
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