The sun has set on dreary, childless feminism. But family-friendly feminism is dawning

Had I a dollar for each time someone told me they were a feminist, well, it’d be about two grand. Back in my Washington days, being feminist was a badge of honour, especially among young men in political jobs. Women approved, so it helped your social life. Proclaiming fealty to feminism was politically correct, thus beneficial for professional advancement. It was the “in” thing. As for young women, how could they be anything but? Their mere presence in the political class was feminism incarnate.

Semantics and politics

I looked up “feminism” in the dictionary. Seems I am also a feminist. Britannica says it’s “the belief in social, economic, and political equality of the sexes.” I’m on board with equal rights for all, not just women. Wikipedia says: “Feminism is a range of socio-political movements and ideologies that aim to define and establish the political, economic, personal, and social equality of the sexes.”

“A range of socio-political movements and ideologies?” How did equal rights get so complicated? That’s how PC politics works. First, take a noble cause and make it your own. Then apply a generous coating of Cultural Marxist spin about oppression, etc., and soon enough you have a special interest power base.

That’s what happened with civil rights, which morphed into affirmative action, DEI mandates and speech police. Public health became shutting down churches and family businesses while leaving Walmart and gambling casinos open for business. How about environmentalism? The green gestapo extracts millions from the economy to comply with whimsical “climate change” mandates. Feminism morphed into “women’s liberation,” denigration of motherhood and overt misandry.

Each of these worthy causes were co-opted, or rather hijacked by woke leftists.

Establishment feminism

The other day a disturbingly painful piece by Petronella “Petsy” Wyatt in the London Telegraph hit me like a ton of bricks. The grief-stricken headline: “Feminism has left middle-aged women like me single, childless and depressed”.

Ms Wyatt is a distinguished UK journalist. The daughter of an MP, she is a seasoned, sophisticated political insider. She had a years-long affair with Boris Johnson before he was PM. Lying about the affair cost Johnson his shadow cabinet post in the Tory opposition.

When she was 13, Margaret Thatcher visited their home. She says Ms Thatcher lectured her about coming of age as a woman:

The gist of her address would have been greeted with hosannas by every feminist of the age; in summation, a woman’s career superseded by far her relations with the opposite sex.”   

Ms Wyatt’s piece is so profoundly compelling that her message cannot be conveyed short of quoting her at length:

At my private school, St Paul’s Girls’ School, we children of Thatcher were similarly educated out of marriage and distaff pursuits. I recall an occasion when Shirley Conran [Dame Conran, strident feminist journalist and author] attempted to upbraid us with the words, “Paulinas do not cook, they think.”

“But the world has changed in a way the early feminist would find incomprehensible and grotesque – indeed, she would view today’s flag bearers as hollow and preposterous nothings. I sometimes think the West has outgrown the feminist philosophy entirely and should cast it off.”

“Incomprehensible and grotesque.” There you have it. That is the hijacking of feminism. The drive for equitable legal status for women morphed into PC ideology, generating social discord for political gain.

Where, for instance, does it leave women like me, when we have reached the age of 54, as I have, and find ourselves both single and childless? Hugging the collected works of Proust, or engaging in furtive sojourns to the pub that bring remembrances of things pissed? One in 10 British women in their 50s have never married and live alone, which is neither pleasant nor healthy.

“I do not know one single woman of my generation who lives such a life and actually likes it.

“Feminism made the error of telling us to behave and think like men. This error was a grave one, and women like myself are paying for it, like gamblers in a casino that has been fixed. We are not men, and in living the single life, with its casual encounters, we play for much higher stakes and have more to lose.”

Ms Wyatt nails it. There is no misconstruing her heartbreak and pathos. She has my utmost respect for courageously speaking out. It strikes me that she is undergoing that fifth stage of grief, acceptance. We’ve been sold a bill of goods with the lure of personal autonomy and material well-being. Those temporal temptations are as fleeting as time. Family is not.

Ms Wyatt’s essay is a powerful signal that those chickens from the anti-family contagion that came of age in 1960s are coming home to roost. By denigrating motherhood and traditional family life, society has been so grievously sabotaged that broken homes, below-replacement fertility and moral relativism are the norm. Is it any wonder that social pathologies are off the charts?  

The feminism described by Ms Wyatt has been publicised by a compliant media as the popular path to feminine fulfilment, with tragic consequences. 


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Countercultural feminism

Today a more vibrant, forward-looking strain of feminism is emerging, exquisitely captured in the brand new book, Hannah’s Children: The Women Quietly Defying the Birth Dearth, which is highly recommended by pro-family advocates.

The US last had replacement level fertility in 2007. It has since fallen by 23 percent to 1.63. This disturbing trend caught the interest of Catholic University of America professor Catherine Pakaluk, mother of eight. As a family-friendly scholar, she became curious about women like herself who are quietly, routinely and unintentionally defying contemporary cultural norms – countercultural – to have five or more children. That many children are a curiosity in the 21st century, though the norm until the 20th.

Growing up, I heard people complaining that the world would be overpopulated, but in the last 25 years, it has become clear that we don’t have enough children… When a country is shrinking, economic output shrinks along with family sizes. Most sociologists and economists around the world are studying the reasons why people won’t or can’t have children. I thought that I could add to the conversation by talking to those who are having children.”

With support from Brigham Young University’s Wheatley Institute, Dr Pakaluk and her team canvassed over 500 college-educated women with five or more children. From those 500-plus mothers, in-depth interviews were conducted with 55 subjects, a representative sample of the US across racial, ethnic, religious and socio-economic backgrounds. These women had an average of seven children.

Her research culminated in the above-mentioned book, Hannah’s Children, “a narrative of this first qualitative study of the motivation behind American women open to having a large family.” About time!

Since countries have not been able to convince women to have more babies by paying them, I thought, ‘Let’s talk to the women having more babies and find out why.’ I found that they have strong and interesting reasons for doing so, but no one has ever viewed it as a research project.”

The title Hannah’s Children is from the “Song of Hannah” from the Book of Samuel (from the Holy Bible in case you’re wondering): “Hannah had been barren, but God answered her prayer with Samuel — and then three more sons and two daughters.” Dr Pakaluk’s conclusion was that religious faith was a major factor as to why these women had five or more children. Regarding her personal outlook:

I suppose it boils down to some sort of deeply held thing, possibly from childhood — a platinum conviction — that the capacity to conceive children, to receive them into my arms, to take them home, to dwell with them in love, to sacrifice for them as they grow, and to delight in them as the Lord delights in us, that that thing, call it motherhood, call it childbearing, that that thing is the most worthwhile thing in the world — the most perfect thing I am capable of doing.”

Indeed. Talk about fulfilling feminine potential and bringing good into the world! That is feminism. Countercultural feminism is bringing children into the world and raising families. Old fashioned? You betcha. None of us would be around without it. There is nothing more vital. Does not motherhood count as career fulfilment, status, and accomplishment? These feminists are now being heard.

This strain of feminism, countercultural for now, is the province of the pro-family pro-natalist crowd – you know, the bunch that would like to save the species. This is our feminism. We own it.

The counterculture is catching on.  

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Louis T. March has a background in government, business, and philanthropy. A former talk show host, author, and public speaker, he is a dedicated student of history and genealogy. Louis lives with his family in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

Image credit: Bigstock


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  • David Page
    commented 2024-05-13 09:41:13 +1000
    It is useful to remember that feminism was a reaction to a system that was quite awful for women. I will post her a letter from Abigail Adams to her husband on the forming of the new American Republic; "“I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the
    new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you
    would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your
    ancestors. “Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands.
    “Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and
    attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not
    hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.
    “That your sex are naturally tyrannical is a truth so thoroughly established as to
    admit of no dispute; but such of you as wish to be happy willingly give up – the harsh
    tide of master for the more tender and endearing one of friend.
    “Why, then, not put it out of the power of the vicious and the lawless to use us
    with cruelty and indignity with impunity? Men of sense in all ages abhor those customs which treat us only as the servants of your sex; regard us then as being placed by Providence under your
    protection, and in imitation of the Supreme Being make use of that power only for our
  • mrscracker
    Unlike poor Petronella, Boris Johnson’s biological clock is male & doesn’t shut down in the way a woman’s does. Men can go on to father children for many years. Mr. Johnson being a case in point.
  • Louis T. March
    published this page in The Latest 2024-05-09 08:21:11 +1000