Luma Simms is a Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center; her essays, articles, and book reviews have appeared in a variety of publications including National Affairs, Law and Liberty, The Wall Street Journal, National Review, First Things, Public Discourse, the Institute for Family Studies, and others.

Conservative Women and the Intra-Conservatism Debate

The recent flurry of intra-conservative debate has started a much needed discussion— although I wish it had begun with an idea-forward piece rather than one aimed at a particular man standing in for a group. Luckily, I don’t fit neatly in any of these groups, and maybe for the first time in my life I’m glad that I’m an outsider. In fact, looking at the faces and voices engaging in the fray leads me to believe there are a lot of outsiders, namely the conservative women whose voices are conspicuously missing from this discourse.

In April, referring to another confrontation (the broader conservative–progressive one), Helen Andrews wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times asking “Where Are the Socially Conservative Women in This Fight?” The piece asks why there are no prominent conservative women, like a Phyllis Schlafly, who will come forward to fill the “role as America’s foremost anti-feminist.” To which the short answer is: an anti-feminist woman isn’t likely to be the one proudly brandishing the banner and shouting out battle orders on the front lines; we’re busy practicing what we believe in the trenches of our homes. There are many good, hardworking—yet unknown—women who cover the domus and related issues. Having learned some lessons from the Schlafly generation (and having internalized social conservative beliefs), many do not believe that the politically ambitious route is their way to win the war.

And so, to ask and answer a related question: Where are the conservative women in this intra-conservatism debate? The shot fired by Sohrab Ahmari at First Things prompted a debate, whether on Twitter or web-magazines, that has been almost exclusively between men (with a notable exception being Stephanie Slade’s piece in Reason).

Read the rest of the essay at Public Discourse

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