In Defense of Anti-Feminism

We can recognize and appreciate the gifts of both sexes without abolishing gender or espousing rigid gender roles—but we need the anti-feminism movement to do it. 

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In a recent piece denouncing the rigid gender roles promoted by the “tradwife” movement, Crisis editor Eric Sammons argues that the anti-feminism movement exacerbates the same toxic divide between men and women as does feminism. 

While I applaud any effort to help men and women recognize unhealthy dynamics between the sexes, I would argue that we should not conflate the anti-feminism movement at large with the rigid and abusive gender stereotypes that can be associated with the “tradwife” phenomenon. 

As per usual, the virtuous midpoint is to be found between two extremes: sexually permissive gender fluidity on the one hand, and oppressively rigid sexual stereotypes on the other. As Sammons points out, both extremes pit the sexes against one another. The alternative vision provided by the Catholic Church is something else entirely: sexual complementarity. As Sammons rightly argues, “[M]en and women were created to be united in one flesh, to exist for the other…Husbands and wives work together for the common family good.” We can recognize and appreciate the gifts of both sexes without abolishing gender or espousing rigid gender roles—but we need the anti-feminism movement to do it. 

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If one wishes to speak of feminism, the term requires a paragraph of explanation. It requires historical knowledge of the “waves” of different thought and distinction between free love feminists, pro-life feminists, reactionary feminists, sex-realist feminists, trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs), etc. Some within the Church refer to themselves as “Catholic feminists,” as I once did, claiming that the advances of the Women’s Movement are distinct from the perversions of the Sexual Revolution and that the term can be redeemed if only we redefine it in keeping with the Church’s vision of “the feminine genius.”   

If every user of a term must qualify it with their own definition, it has lost its meaning. The word “feminist” has become essentially meaningless. Because “radical” or “toxic” feminism is in fact the predominant understanding of feminism in our culture and has been at war with women and Christianity for the last century—at least—it is time we abandon the term altogether. Only then can we recognize feminism, in all its forms, for what it truly is: an all-out assault on women, marriage, and the family. 

Feminism has, from the beginning, sought to “equalize” men and women through the abolition of sexual difference and, in doing so, to erase women’s unique qualities and roles, making them imitators of men. Even prior to the Sexual Revolution, Catholic thinkers such as G.K. Chesterton warned against the dangers of this seductive philosophy. Chesterton recognized the reality of women’s oppression, but he objected to feminism’s methods of remedying that oppression, arguing that feminists “dislike the chief feminine characteristics,” and as a result, seek to “destroy womanhood.” 

A hundred years later, Alice von Hildebrand wrote that feminism is “women’s great enemy,” observing that

the new age philosophy of feminism, in waging war on femininity, is in fact waging war on Christianity…There can be no reconciliation between an ideology that advocates power and success and the one whose core demonstrates that the way to God is the humble acceptance of one’s helplessness. 

Feminism and Christianity are diametrically opposed. 

Carrie Gress reveals just how incompatible they really are when she uncovers feminism’s satanic roots in The Anti-Mary Exposed: Rescuing the Culture from Toxic Femininity. In her most recent release, Gress exposes much-lauded figures of the women’s movement like Mary Wollstonecraft and Elizabeth Cady Stanton for their cooperation with the occult. Stanton, for example, channeled the spirits as she wrote her “Declaration of Sentiments” and viewed Satan as liberator of women, creating a “counter myth” in her Women’s Bible depicting him as such. 

Fatima visionary Sr. Lucia predicted that “the decisive battle between the kingdom of Christ and Satan will be over marriage and the family.” Feminism has played an indispensable role in this battle, severing the bond between mother and child, alienating women from their bodies and their very selves. 

If we want to escape the evils feminism has wrought and work toward the genuine good of women, we must first actively work to extricate and differentiate ourselves entirely from the satanic ideology that professes to “liberate” women by muting their fertility, eliminating their motherhood, and erasing their particular characteristics.  

“A woman’s place is in the home.” Today, even faithful Catholics bristle or cringe at these words; and yet, how many women deeply desire to be home with their children but feel it is a luxury just out of reach?  “A woman’s place is in the home.” Today, even faithful Catholics bristle or cringe at these words; and yet, how many women deeply desire to be home with their children but feel it is a luxury just out of reach?Tweet This

Simone de Beauvior intended just this impediment: “No woman should be authorized to stay at home and raise her children…Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one” (emphasis added). Betty Friedan likened the home to a concentration camp. Kate Millett’s rallying cry called for the destruction of monogamy and the American family via the promotion of promiscuity and abortion.

Feminism has systematically worked to keep women out of the home and away from our children, inventing a patriarchy that wants to keep us “in our place.” Who is it that wants women in the home? Communism, capitalism, and the American government alike have motivations for keeping women out of the home. More workers means more production and higher GDPs. An increased need for daycare means more jobs. Wage earners can earn taxable income as substitute caregivers.

While more bodies in the workplace generates more income, a higher workforce participation (particularly of mothers of very young children) is not necessarily in the interest of the common good. The most central of human goods don’t always generate income. Children fare better when mothers are in the home. Women are far happier when they are free to dedicate themselves to their children and pursue work (or not) that is complementary to that endeavor. Only when money and power are idolized can the bearing and discipling of children be denigrated as unimportant or wasteful. 

Von Hildebrand bemoans this inversion of values, denouncing de Beauvoir’s claims that “women produce nothing” by observing that “One day, all human accomplishments will be reduced to a pile of ashes. But every single child to whom a woman has given birth will live forever.” In light of eternity, home may be the most important place we can be. 

Feminism has stolen domesticity, the home, even our children from us via abortion, daycare, and infertility-inducing delay of childbearing. It has even stolen women’s identity: we can’t answer the question of what a woman is, in part because we have been taught to despise women’s gifts and elevate the masculine. 

Feminism has pulled the wool over women’s eyes, teaching them to disdain the holiness of the little way, humility, and the beauty of doing small things for God. Our culture uses phrases like “women’s potential” to emphasize ways women ought to aspire to “greatness” in masculine terms, demeaning the qualities of the feminine genius.

We have been sold the lie that feminine gifts like docility, modesty, purity, and prudence will keep women from achieving their “true potential.” And perhaps that is true—if one takes a view of “potential” as career accolades and monetary gain. We continually overemphasize “progress” for women in purely economic terms. And yet, as Christians, that ought never be our measure. Our aspirations lie far beyond this life, and our view of what is truly good cannot be weighed in gold. 

The Church proclaims, and has always proclaimed, that the most perfect human being is a woman—one whose docility and obedience made her the Mediatrix of our salvation and Mother of God and all the living. The accusation that docility is used to keep women “in their place” is a lie from the enemy in the same vein as the lie that eating the apple will make us “like God.” Docility to the Holy Spirit is a great strength if one’s goal is Heaven. Docility is the virtue that allowed Our Lady to say, “let it be done unto me.” Docility is the virtue by which a woman crushed the head of Satan. And that is why, in his pride, he demeans it so.

We need the anti-feminism movement; our genuine liberation as women depends on it. The children being destroyed by the genocide of abortion depend on it. The future of marriage and the family depend on it. And if Sr. Lucia and Alice von Hildebrand are right, the kingdom of God depends on it. 

[Image Credit: Shutterstock]


  • Samantha Stephenson

    Samantha Stephenson is a Catholic wife and mother of 3, host of the podcast Brave New Us, and the author of the upcoming book Reclaiming Motherhood From a Culture Gone Mad. Follow her blog, Mama Prays, or sign up for her Faith + Bioethics newsletter to receive the latest updates on medical research, technology, and culture.

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