International Women’s Day is celebrated around the world. It’s a time, at least in America, to take an extra opportunity to recognize the women in our lives and to appreciate what they do for all of us, every day. Conservative women have a special place in our history, especially the more recent growth of strong, vocal conservatives because in our nation’s history such women often didn’t have a voice.
Phyllis Schlafly is the most recognized early pioneers conservative women who made a name for herself in 1964 with her book A Choice Not an Echo while being a vocal supporter of the Goldwater campaign. 1972 saw her foundation of the Eagle Forum, a political non-profit, that focused on social issues. Her outspoken criticism of the Equal Rights Amendment and emphasis on social issues defined the layout of other women led organizations until more recently when Ann Coulter became a household name.
The first conservative book since I’d read Conscience of a Conservative was Slander, by Coulter. I’ll never forget reading page after page of her calling out the hypocrisy of the liberal elite. What keeps that book in memory is the hard core style in which she wrote. Although I came to enjoy the style of David Horowitz, it was somewhat the shock of her boldness that I believe set the stage for up and comers in conservative dialog.
As the conservative movement changed from being a neo-con shell of what conservatism used to be with social issues dominating the fiscal ones that originally defined it, by 2008 women found a voice in the Tea Party Movement. The Tea Party set the stage for strong women conservatives such as Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann and the women written about in Melissa Deckman’s book Tea Party Women, who wanted a government that had the same ideas of fiscal responsibility they had when doing their budget.
Perhaps these women would have gotten involved with the republican party instead, but as Deckman highlights in her book, many of these women didn’t have a high opinion of the party while others felt the bureaucracy made it difficult to participate. Stacy Mott, co-founder of Smart Girl Politics now has around 65,000 members and volunteers in half the country. While not necessarily “Tea Party”, it was that movement that helped set the stage for the social media activism that boosted women’s participation since 2008.
Marji Ross gave an excellent talk about issues for conservative women at a discussion for the Clare Booth Policy Institute (here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?
In it she says:
“Liberals argue from a position of weakness. Here’s their worldview; people aren’t able to support themselves… the government must do it for them; people aren’t able to make the right decisions… the courts must do it for them; parents aren’t able to tell right from wrong… school administrators will do that for them; communities aren’t able to keep their children safe… the lawyers will do that for them. It’s all about weakness.”
This example of the difference between our conservative female leaders and their big government counterparts gets us back to the roots of why conservative women have had the courage to speak up. Since socioeconomic success has rippled upward, conservative women are in a better condition than their demographic twins of 20-30 years ago. While Schafly was getting housewives and homemakers active in the Goldwater campaign, todays activists are small business owners, managers, and women with higher education.
This change in the conditions for women overall has greatly contributed to the rise of women superstars like Sarah Palin, Michelle Maulkin et. al. The core of their fire is the same as the less educated women as yesteryear, but today they have the financial resources and community to get their voices heard. Patting women with opinions on the head and dismissing them is a thing of the past, and todays woman is in a position to sound off. The tone of how advancing through what’s left of the glass ceiling however demands the conservative woman, not the militant man-hating leftist feminist to truly accomplish.
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