Published October 22, 2023
There’s a new groundswell emerging in media that hasn’t been seen, maybe ever. Conservative women are challenging the regnant feminist narrative.
For roughly five decades, feminism has enjoyed an unchallenged hegemony, which both indoctrinated women and gave birth to its child, woke ideology. Women such as Barbara Walters , Gloria Steinem , Christiane Amanpour , Katie Couric , and Rachel Maddow have had a lock on American women’s messaging, featuring consistent and now threadbare stories, such as unequal pay for equal work, reproductive health , and the toxicity of masculinity.
For decades, conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly was the voice in the wilderness, taking on the cultural bullies. Her niece, Suzanne Venker , has carried on her aunt’s legacy as America’s countercultural coach with a podcast offering advice for women who want to figure out why they are unhappy in their marriages, careers, and even as mothers.
Suzanne is not a lone voice anymore. A bevy of young, smart, articulate women have joined the scene. Perhaps best known are Candace Owens and Brett Cooper at the Daily Wire. Candace captured the general mood of women fed up with feminism and the woke world in her recent comments at a college campus. When asked about a transgender person who might be triggered by her presence, Owens replied swiftly with the kind of exhaustion unique to pregnancy: “Life’s tough. Get a helmet, man. I’m too pregnant for this.” Cooper, on the other hand, has become a beacon for Gen Z girls (and boys) regularly subjected to woke nonsense at schools and colleges.
Other arrivals are women such as Allie Beth Stuckey and her podcast Relatable at the Blaze; Mary Rooke of Trad-ish at the Daily Caller; Julie Hartman, a regular cohost with Dennis Prager and host of her own podcast titled Timeless; and Lauren Evans and Virginia Post, hosts of the Problematic Women podcast at the Daily Signal. The podcast Girl Boss, Interrupted, by Helen Roy, captures the spirit of these women with a Flannery O’Connor quote: “Push back against the age as hard as it pushes against you.”
In print, Kat Timpf was one of the first anti-girl boss girls at National Review but has since moved on to do commentary and comedy at Fox. More recent additions are Evita Duffy-Alfonso at the Federalist, Carmel Richardson at American Conservative, and Peachy Keenan at the Federalist and the American Mind. There are certainly others whom I’ve overlooked, but the anti-girl bosses’ message, whose audience includes fed-up men too, must be working because their number keeps growing.
The common thread among these women is certainly not age, race, education level, marital status, or creed but an authentic desire to speak the truth about women (although certainly, they talk about more than just women’s issues). Relying upon reason, common sense, and humor, they are attracting the tired and weary, having found feminism’s Achilles’ heel: Its arguments are shallow and quickly crumble under any kind of scrutiny.
The other conservative advantage is that the kind of woman they promote is the same that has inspired poetry and song since time began. Though little known today, beautiful, self-giving, non-narcissistic women are compelling.
These creative women are also providing a platform for other voices (full disclosure: my voice, too). Until now, as I explain in my book, The End of Woman: How Smashing the Patriarchy Has Destroyed Us, most of us have been groomed to think that we should believe all women, our career is our highest priority, and husbands and children are nice accessories, but if they get in the way we have “choices.” This edifice is coming down brick by brick.
No one should expect these women to agree on everything or that we will agree with everything they say. Conservatives often fall into the trap that unless we agree 100% with a public figure, we can’t support them. This tidy attempt to keep our principles pure has the effect of shredding and tearing down good things that are actually building culture and expanding our messaging reach. To see how untenable this idea is, consider that even married couples don’t agree with each other 100%. Conservatism isn’t about cloning but considering our best arguments.
Many of us are making the arduous journey away from feminism’s cult-like purse strings. It feels like a luxury to have several talking heads to listen to, learn from, and follow instead of what conservative women did in the past: speak in hushed tones to their other closeted conservative friends.
We can pray for fantastic success for these trailblazing women, but not so much success that they get hired by a place such as the New York Times or MSNBC. We don’t need any more conservatives, entranced by a pants’ crease or the latest lefty wunderkind, to abandon the very principles that made them conservatives in the first place.
Carrie Gress, Ph.D., is a Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where she co-directs EPPC’s Theology of Home Project. She earned her doctorate in philosophy from the Catholic University of America and is the co-editor at the online women’s magazine Theology of Home.