If confirmed, Judge Amy Coney Barrett will become the fifth woman to become a Supreme Court justice. While this is remarkable enough on its own, Barrett’s personal life (notably her large family of seven children) has drawn interest, curiosity, and even ire.
While all women don’t share her politics, all women can appreciate that Barrett has created a life for herself that in many ways embodies the progress women have made. It’s not a life every woman wants, but the model of success in two spheres, professional work and family life, appeals to the vast majority of women.
Women have made tremendous progress since Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (a mother to three sons) blazed a trail to become the first woman on the Supreme Court. But progressives, who have hijacked feminism for their political purposes, don’t want to acknowledge progress in any way. They demean women like Barrett and ignore the wealth of evidence that shows how far American women have come because this runs counter to their narrative that women are victims.
We need a new direction for feminism. That much is clear after witnessing the so-called “Women’s March” on Saturday in Washington, D.C., where churlish protesters (even at one point led by a man) shouted down other women’s groups that had gathered in support of Barrett.
The Women’s March is a picture of today’s feminist movement. It purports to speak for all women, but it doesn’t include all women. This movement conveniently uses slogans like “Believe all women” and “I’m with her” when it suits a specific political agenda (read: Democrat). But it quickly abandons the she-boss-girl-power lingo for women who don’t fit its outdated feminist mold.
Even more important, the modern women’s movement isn’t trying to solve the right problem. The question before us today is not whether women can be free like men, but whether we can simply feel free to be women. Many women want children and to be actively involved in parenting. And many women, including mothers, want to work. Can we make navigating this tension easier?
For many women, the quest to “have it all” equates to a stressful effort to “do it all.” But Barrett shows there is another way: We can do it all, but we can’t do it alone.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought this reality into stark relief for many women. In pandemic-fueled isolation, the juggle of working motherhood has been harder than ever for many women.
Progressive feminists believe the answer lies in more and bigger government programs to support universal childcare. While many women support high-quality choices in childcare, some understandably pause at the suggestion that we can simply outsource our most important work, the work of caring for our children, to a government facility a la Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
So if bigger government is not the answer, what is?
We need institutions and strong communities to support us. Some people find Barrett’s affiliation with the People of Praise group to be off-putting (because they disagree with the group’s religious creed), but the group is very tight-knit; it’s exactly the kind of “village” that is the envy of women of all political and religious backgrounds.
We need strong marriages. We need extended family and friends and a culture of people helping other people. We need flexible work arrangements and a family-friendly work culture so that we can continue to contribute professionally while “leaning in” at home. Certainly, Barrett relied on these things to have a successful career and family life.
Who has been championing these things? Sadly, it’s not the women’s movement or the women’s marchers. They are stuck in 1970, with a myopic focus on women’s reproductive rights. This has not only alienated many pro-life women; it’s ignored the heart of the problem. The implication of the abortion-focus (and the government childcare focus) is that if women can live like men, we can be happy.
Many women have tried that. Many have found it didn’t work.
A new feminism, “not your mother’s feminism,” would recognize the inherent and immutable differences between women and men, and would focus on freeing more women to design their own lives, as we do at Independent Women’s Forum.
Women don’t have to support Barrett’s politics or her nomination to recognize what she represents: A turning point for feminism, a chance to move forward. A chance to break the link between feminism and the radical left.
It’s time for a new wave.