In present-day American society, few women identify as feminists. Yet in her upcoming book, Freedom Feminism: Its Surprising History and Why It Matters Today, Christina Hoff Sommers argues that feminism is important for society and that conservative and libertarian women should take it back.
Sommers outlines the history of social feminism, including the impact of women like Mary Wollstonecraft, Hannah More, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Frances Willard.
Western society has made magnificent advances in women’s equality, where it seems that most women’s rights aims have been achieved. However, Sommers argues that the feminist movement should be far from over.
“For most of the world, the quest for women’s equality has only begun,” Sommers said this morning at a Conservative Women’s Network event hosted by the Heritage Foundation and the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute. She cited the horrendous treatment of women in countries like Iran as an example.
In her book, Sommers describes the two types of feminism prevalent throughout history. The first type is egalitarian feminism, which is a progressive and secular strain that emphasizes that men and women are inherently equal and the same. The second type, maternal feminism, is more traditionalist, religious, and family-centered. It views men and women as different but equal.
Today, feminism belongs to the radical egalitarians. Sommers argues that social feminism needs to be a combination of egalitarian and maternal feminism in order to truly make progress for women.
“Conservative, libertarian, and moderate women are going to have to demand a place at the table,” Sommers said. “There is an entire lost history of conservative feminism.”
Sommers ends her book with an action guide for conservative and libertarian women in the fight to take back feminism from the radical egalitarians. They must take the positive lessons from egalitarians like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton as well as maternal feminists like Hannah More to create freedom feminism, a combined effort of the two movements.
In an age where feminism is often associated with the depreciation of men and the promotion of practices like abortion, it’s refreshing to hear a different take on what feminism really means: appreciating women’s contributions to society, as well as as encouraging their roles both in the family and in the working world. Sommers’ book is released on June 10, and it should be a must-read.