I attended the Network of enlightened Women’s Sixth Annual National Conference this last weekend and had a blast! It was a joy to hear from the student leaders across the state as well as author of Women Who Make the World Worse, Kate O’Beirne and Fox News contributor and journalist, Mary Katharine Ham.
I met many fantastic ladies, all who share the same desire to pursue the ambitions they have chosen and not get criticized for them whether it is a career, a family, or both. However, it seems that we conservative women call ourselves many different things. Throughout the conference, I heard some ladies call themselves “conservative feminists,” while others avoided the word “feminist” as if it had four letters.
In the modern world, it seems that if women – especially young, college-aged women – do not call themselves feminists, they are portrayed as “behind the times” or women who want to live under patriarchy. You know, barefoot, pregnant, in the kitchen making your husband a sandwich. As modern, young, conservative women, we all know this stereotype is far from the truth, but that does not stop the stereotype from persisting. It also does not get rid of pressure to jump on the “feminist” bandwagon like most of our peers.
So how do we solve this problem, young ladies? Should we call ourselves feminists and turn our backs on our “foremothers” who fought against radical feminists? Or should we not use the word and risk getting ignored because we are lumped in a stereotypical, outdated category of “conservative?”
This dilemma is something I think modern conservative women need to address quickly, so let me throw my idea out here:
As a history major, titles of groups of people are important to me, and a category for men in the 1980s and 1990s was referred to as the “New Man.” He was more committed to fatherhood, not as cut off from women, and believe in sharing some household tasks equally. He was still a man, but egalitarian in relationships. Radical feminists unfortunately molded this “New Man” to their liking – so it ended up going beyond equality to men being clumsy, stupid, incapable, and belonging in the home (See my other blog post: Are Guys Stupid? How Media and Pop Culture Tells Women That They Are).
Even though radical feminists took this “New Man” and destroyed him, I like the term “New” for obvious reasons. The Network of enlightened Women is not just an organization, it is a movement of young, modern, conservative women looking for respect and recognition from society. Why not just refer to ourselves as NeW Women when describing our position?
After all, the conservative women’s movement has re-emerged relatively recently. Conservatives almost three years ago had a female run for Vice President of the United States, and a woman running for President (maybe two) in this election. Conservative women are tired of feminists boasting that they hold the only female opinion. Second Wave Feminism may have triumphed over conservative women for a decade or two, but conservative women have been leaders in the women’s movement for centuries and it’s time to show that again. We led the suffrage movement, we have many Republican women serving in office today, we had the first female Supreme Court Justice, the first female mayor, the first female nominated for president, and many more firsts.
Now, it’s time conservative women showed modern society what we are made of. We aren’t old, uptight, Victorian-like women who want to go back to the old days. We are modern, young, refreshed and ready to take down the feminist movement. We are NeW Women – “New” in the sense that we are recharged, and “NeW” in the sense that we are enlightened (which, quite obviously, we have always been).
So, are you a NeW Woman? And by that, I mean, are you ready to use the term? Tell me your thoughts! I can tell you that I will make sure I use the title as much as possible, and I hope other conservative, female leaders reading this will, too.