Scott Yenor’s “Feminism—What the Critics Miss” in Modern Age features a survey of feminism’s “waves” and shows how they have effectively transformed the West. He summarizes the initial conservative intellectual response to the “second wave” sexual revolution, and he includes the prescient Sexual Suicide (1973) by George Gilder. An excerpt of Yenor’s counsel:
Pursuing a pro-family agenda in a time of sexual suicide is even harder than its noble advocates imagine. Nothing of note can be accomplished without taking on the feminist gender ideology as it appears throughout our education system, our media, and our daily lives. Reestablishing elements of the old sexual constitution in our new situation and disestablishing the New Woman must be the aim. How could it be accomplished?
Pro-family advocates must stop singing a lullaby about sexual suicide. Evidence for it is everywhere, and we must highlight it and dwell on it. Men and women are its victims. Although some hard-charging careerists thrive in the feminist order, on the whole American women are more unhappy, more depressed, more anxious and neurotic, more medicated, and more into self-harm and suicidal ideation than ever before. This is part of the whirlwind Decter thought we would reap. Most women are not a little disappointed with the detachment of sex from relationships and from the decline in the quality of men that come from the feminist project—but they will not settle for anything less than they think they deserve. They want good men to provide for and love them, even as they remain independent within marriage.
Works of art like novels and movies could highlight this seedy underside to feminism. Sensations akin to Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique, but from the opposite perspective, must highlight these travails and lay them at the doorstep of feminism.
My chief criticism is the disappointing, wishy-washy ending. I lean more toward the Jim end of the spectrum, though that spirit’s proof exceeds even my tolerance. Still, I recommend Yenor’s article, and I’m glad that ISI hasn’t lost all savor (its college-age writers give me pause . . . how standards have fallen in such a short time).