Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Can a Conservative be a Feminist?

That's what I'm wondering today: can a Conservative be a Feminist? Feminism is generally seen as a Liberal movement, (as in, "Women's Lib."?) so if I consider myself a political Conservative, can I be a feminist?

I bring this up because I'm in the middle of reading a few essays written about how to interpret the Constitution and former Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist is one of the authors. [For those who don't know, Rehnquist was an extremely Conservative Justice on the Supreme Court.] And as I read his essay I keep saying to myself, "I love this guy! He's a genius!"

In other words, I think that his Conservative views are really brilliant, which brings to light me being a Conservative and the question of whether I can be a feminist if I am.

You see my problem here? The reason why I'm not sure whether I'm a frum feminist? It just seems oxymoronic.


  1. The issue, I think, is in defining what kind of conservative you are. There are basically two kinds of conservatives: Paleoconservative and Neoconservatives.

    Neoconservatives are a right-wing split off the Democratic party, who abandoned the leftist values of the Democrats but retained the statist, coercive political philosophy of the Democrats. Whereas Democrats use compulsion to force everyone to respect gays, Neoconservatives use compulsion to force everyone to marry heterosexually. It's the same modus operandi, just applied to a different moral philosophy.

    By contrast, Paleoconservatives are basically classical liberals and libertarians, believing in limiting (or eliminating) the state. They would tend to believe in both economic and social liberty for all.

    So ask yourself, what kind of conservative are you? I would imagine that being a feminist Paleoconservative would be easier than being a feminist Neoconservative.

  2. Anarcho-capitalist Murray Rothbard also coined the term "modal libertarian" to refer to those libertarians who are libertarian merely for the sake of expediting their degenerate vices; as opposed to true libertarians, who believe in liberty because it is a human right for everyone, but themselves holding by conservative, traditional values in their own personal lives.

    John Stuart Mill, usually celebrated as a classical liberal, would be disparaged by Rothbard as a modal libertarian, for Mill believed in free speech not because he believed it was a human right, but because he hated Christianity and thought free speech would destroy Christianity. Mill also was a utilitarian, who urged private ownership of property and laissez-faire economics, not because he believed in human rights, but because he believed it would result in the greatest good for the greatest number. By contrast, Rothbard, an atheist Jew himself, held by Thomas Aquinas's natural law theories, and so he would be a more principled libertarian.

    So right-wing, traditional libertarianism would be similar to Paleoconservativism.

    If you decide whether you are Paleoconservative rather than Neoconservative, then you can in turn decide whether you are a traditional libertarian or a modal libertarian. The result of that inquiry might further determine whether your feminism and conservativism are contradictory or not.