“To the best of my knowledge, I am the first mom to hold the job of the White House Press Secretary,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated at a press briefing several months ago. The implication of her statement was that this is progress and a victory of some sort.
A victory of what sort?
That Republican women are working moms too? That Donald Trump is pro-woman, a feminist even? That pro-family values now pervade the White House?
Why is it progress and a victory that a mother of three young children has taken on a demanding job at the White House? Isn’t the purpose of a mother to take care of her children? In a rational social order then, a mother would not be made White House Press Secretary. Our social order, however, is driven by liberal ideology.
There is an old strain of feminism called “maternal feminism” which posits that maternal virtue can improve society if women assume positions of power and influence, and that women’s distinctive biological qualities make them well suited to play an important role in public life. Claiming “first mom to hold the job of White House Press Secretary” is reminiscent of maternal feminism.
Or, there is the newer “difference feminism,” which recognizes that men and women are different and that it’s okay for women to be feminine. Difference feminism holds that women’s superior nurturing and relational skills make them good managers and leaders. Is “difference feminism” really that new, though? The feminist idea that if women ruled the world there would be no more war has been around since the woman suffrage campaign.
Maternal feminism did not spread—perhaps because of its inherent contradiction: maternal feminists believed that woman’s primary role was that of wife and mother. They did not advocate putting a life in politics before her duties at home. How then, is a woman to play an important role in public life whilst not abandoning her duties at home? She cannot.
The feminism that did take hold of Western society is liberal feminism, the “bible” of which is Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. All working mothers, regardless of their party stripes, are following the feminist ideal as prescribed by Friedan in The Feminine Mystique: it’s okay to get married and have children, but in order to have self-worth you must have a career.
I doubt women like Sarah Huckabee Sanders consider The Feminine Mystique to be their guide. However, because the ideals set forth in the book became so ingrained in society, today’s working mothers are following the path marked out by Friedan nonetheless.(1)
While conservative “anti-feminist feminists” in the mold of Phyllis Schlafly make statements about woman’s most important job being wife and mother, they then reject that role for themselves to live up to Friedan’s ideal—you’re worthless if you are a woman and you don’t have a career.
In F. Carolyn Graglia’s book Domestic Tranquility: A Brief Against Feminism (1998), Graglia suggests that our society has valued male achievements in the marketplace more highly than female contributions as wife and mother in the home. Feminists, Graglia writes, correctly perceived this. However, instead of addressing the imbalance, they went along with it: “Conceding the inferiority of the traditional female roles of wife and mother, feminists exhorted women to enter the marketplace in search of the status conferred to males.”
What about moms working in the White House? Doesn’t this seek to address that imbalance? Isn’t “difference feminism” good?
Graglia writes that “difference feminists” try to “reconstruct workplaces…to reflect a distinctive female voice.” She continues:
The goal of difference feminists is not to affirm the worth of domesticity and child-rearing activities, but rather to domesticate, as it were, the workplace. Having relegated home and children to surrogates’ care, they attempt to create a surrogate domestic haven for themselves within the marketplace—what I call the ‘feminist playpen’.
In other words, no matter what kind of feminist a woman is, if she chooses to work instead of stay at home and raise her children, this action denigrates woman’s traditional role of wife and mother.
Graglia wrote her book in the late 90s, and almost 20 years later what has become of resistance to feminism? Conservative women have signed on to a conservative version of feminism that besides the issue of abortion, differs more in style than in substance from the feminism of their liberal sisters. It seems that “difference feminists” are not so different from your garden-variety feminist.(2)
No one wants to rock the working mom boat. Maintaining the reign of feminist ideology—of which the working mother is a central fact of—is important to Western society. Why? Because it is the pièce de résistance of the entire edifice of liberal ideology upon which the modern West is built. Since the Revolution (3) began, from Protestant Germany to revolutionary France, the West has been moving toward the working mother ideal. This ideal rests on a rejection of the authority of the Catholic Church, the one true Faith, and of our duty to submit to it, and puts in its place the autonomous individual, programmed to seek liberty, fraternity and equality, or, the American version, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Women have been “freed” from the natural bonds of womanhood—“wife” who is under the authority of her husband, and “mother” who is to sacrifice her life for her children—and now order their lives based on their own desires. What career do I want? How many children do I want and when do I want to have them? And so on. The working mother is the quintessential autonomous individual. Of course, the freedom of the Revolutionary is not freedom but license, and ends up being enslavement. Working mothers appear more like slaves, run off their feet, impossibly divided between work and home, than they do free and happy women.
Unfortunately, American society is so engulfed in ideological warfare of Left vs. Right, which is really just a war between factions of liberalism, it is incapable of ordering itself in a rational manner which respects the nature of woman.
A sane and rational view would hold that a “pro-family” White House encourages mothers to stay home with their children and fathers to work in government. How is depriving children of their mother’s care throughout the day pro-family?
A sane and rational view would respect the nature of woman and the purpose of mothers. The nature of woman is maternal, and the purpose of a mother is to care for her children. How confused we are when we think that the purpose of a mother is to be press secretary at the White House!
Considering it to be progress and a victory that a mom is White House Press Secretary shows how far we’ve sunk into the Revolutionary mire.
So-called conservative commentators complain that the mainstream liberal media won’t recognize that Trump has “put women in charge.” The full title of the article linked to is “Trump puts women in charge at his White House. Will the mainstream media ever wake up?” Will conservatives ever wake up? All of the West save for a few anti-revolutionary traditionalists ascribes to liberal ideology, of which, as I stated earlier, feminism is the crowning achievement. Everyone in America, regardless of party affiliation, (4) is holding on to a Godless, doomed ideology of Man and his place in the world—a world ordered by God and subject to His rule whether we acknowledge it or not. Not acknowledging it, which is the state we are presently in, is what is destroying us.
After her “first mom” boast at the press briefing, Sanders went on to say that empowering working mothers is at the heart of Trump’s agenda and that the Trump administration is working on policies that will incentivize women to work and raise children.
During his campaign Trump revealed his child care plan alongside his daughter, Ivanka, who said,” I have three young children myself and I’m grateful daily for the means to pursue two of my dreams: being a mother and investing in a career that fulfills me. I recognize that far too few women can say the same for themselves and that I am more fortunate than most.” Ivanka stated that 70% of mothers with kids at home also have jobs outside the home, and 64% of those moms have kids under six.
If these statistics are true, what we really need is a government willing to make the rational and God-fearing argument that all women who are mothers should stay home and raise their children, and let their husbands support them.
The fact that the “conservative” hero who was to go against the grain and upset the liberal status quo wants to incentivize women to leave their children at communistic daycares proves the point that liberal and feminist ideology dominate regardless of whether one is Republican or Democrat.
These are not times of reason and truth, however, but of emotion and ideology—a triumph of feminism, liberalism and the Revolution that begot them.
(1) Suzanne Venker and Phyllis Schlafly put it well in their 2011 book, The Flipside of Feminism:
If you ask any woman today who has young children and a full-time job, or any woman who sleeps around indiscriminately, or even the average middle-class single mom who most likely initiated her divorce, she’s likely to say she’s not a feminist…Indeed, she has probably never joined a feminist cause in her life, nor does she necessarily have a strong opinion on the matter. But her lifestyle is a direct result of feminism’s influence in her life. That is the insidious nature of the feminist revolution, and it is the reason why it’s the most significant social movement of our time.
Danielle Crittenden wrote about this in her 1999 book, What Our Mothers Didn’t Tell Us: Why Happiness Eludes the Modern Woman. While doing research for an article she was writing she spent time talking to young women on university campuses, and had this to say about what she found:
While it was true that most of the students I spoke to—women who said they were going to be doctors and lawyers, professors and bankers—declined to describe themselves as feminist… every opinion they expressed would have warmed the heart of the most fiery “libber” a quarter century ago… the students I interviewed had neither adopted nor rejected feminism. Rather, it had seeped into their minds like intravenous saline into the arm of an unconscious patient. They were feminists without knowing it.
(2) See other essays on this site such as Phyllis Schlafly: Not a Good Example of an Anti-Feminist or The Many Faces of Feminism.
(3) “Revolution” does not refer to a specific revolutionary event but to the slow and violent sweeping away of the Christian social order, starting in the late middle ages. The Protestant Revolt, the French Revolution, the American Revolution and the Russian Revolution are all specific revolutionary events that are part of the overall “Revolution.” The Revolutionary spirit is characterized by anti-Catholicism and the worship of “liberty” (a.k.a. license). Under the Revolutionary order the rights of man usurp the rights of God. See Revolution and Counter-Revolution by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira for more on this topic.
(4) “In America it [liberalism] would scarcely seem to exist at all, so ingrained is it in our social conditions, so natural is it to the prevailing modes of thought, so congenital is it with the dominant religious notions about us, so congenial a habitat to the Protestant sects. Indeed it is a very constituent of the pseudoreligious and pseudomoral atmosphere we daily breathe. We can hope to escape its taint only by copious and frequent draughts of orthodox doctrine, by the strictest intellectual vigilance, fortified by supernatural grace.” From Liberalism is a Sin written in 1899 by Felix Sarda y Salvany and translated and adapted by Conde B. Pallen, published by Tan Books in 1993.