op-ed

What Conservatism Offers Women

womens history month Shutterstock/Michele Paccione

Jenny Beth Martin President, Tea Party Patriots

Women’s History Month is here again, and liberals are, predictably, celebrating the only type of women they count as feminists – women who toe the liberal line of thinking. Overlooked in this month’s celebration of women, of course, are conservative women.

Conservative women are a stumbling block for liberal feminists. Conservative women, and prominent women in Republican politics especially, give lie to the notion that women have a single, monolithic viewpoint — and the related notion that the Democratic Party best enshrines that solitary viewpoint.

Modern-day liberalism offers a single solution to almost every problem – more (and bigger) government. Conservatives, on the other hand, recognize Reagan’s wisdom about the inverse relationship between the size of government and individual liberty: “As government expands, liberty contracts.” The damaging effects of government heavy-handedness are as pronounced for women as they are for men.

This contrast between the uniform liberal solution and conservatives’ solutions can be clearly seen in recent policy objectives the two political parties have advanced. Major liberal policies, without exception, have vastly enlarged the size and scope of government, while simultaneously shrinking individual liberty. Think about Obamacare, to name but one example.

Over the past decade, I have had the privilege of serving as the president of Tea Party Patriots, the nation’s largest grassroots tea party organization. During this time, I have met tens of thousands of women who are attracted to conservatism because of our emphasis on individual liberty, and our policies that empower women. The women I meet regularly share the specific policy areas that are most important to them, including lower taxes and economic freedom, school choice, and the Second Amendment.

Tax reform is only the most recent example where the GOP has advanced individual liberty – this time in the form of the freedom to keep more of our hard-earned money. The tax reform package that was signed into law late last year means small-business owners (many of whom are women) will have simplified and lower taxes this year. It also means that families will have a lower tax burden.

On the issue of school choice, the Democratic Party has failed families. The one-size-fits-all approach that characterizes the majority of liberal policies is inappropriate for families seeking alternative school options. Mothers who feel like their children are trapped in underperforming schools are not empowered, and their concerns are ignored by Democrats in Washington. Meanwhile, conservatives are advocating for more local and, thus, parental, control of education. It’s worth noting that President Donald Trump’s Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos (a woman, by the way), has spent her career as a champion for school choice.

Another area where women are empowered is through the Second Amendment, and conservatives’ commitment to protecting the right to bear arms. I’ve met more women than I can count across the country who have opted to purchase a gun for self-defense. Democrats have, for decades, attempted to chip away at the Second Amendment, overlooking the fact that one out of every five women in the United States owns a gun, according to a Pew Research Center survey last year.

Also noteworthy from that study is that women are far more likely than men to cite self-defense as the top reason they own a gun. As many of the women I have talked to about this issue over the years are quick to point out: in matters of self-defense, nothing is as equalizing between men and women as a gun. But don’t expect liberals to voice that commonsense truth.

With each of these issues, a pattern emerges: Conservative policies empower women, precisely because conservative policies equip women with choices. The word “choice” has been seized by liberals as a feminist shibboleth, but the word more appropriately belongs in the conservative’s lexicon. We are, after all, the ones who champion women’s economic choices, mothers’ choices about their children’s education, healthcare choices, and the choice to carry a weapon, among numerous others.

In a revealing interview, feminist Simone de Beauvoir once made the shocking statement that women must not be given the option to stay at home to raise their children “because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one. [Limiting their choices] is a way of forcing women in a certain direction.”

There’s a rampant, not-so-subtle sexism that courses through liberal feminist ideology — namely, the idea that women ought not be given the full array of options and choices because they very well may not choose the liberals’ preferred path.

The choices that conservatism offers women are, perhaps, just as important as what our movement does not force upon women — a proscribed and uniform “certain direction.”

When it comes to the politics of empowerment, conservatism is, far and away, the better choice for women.

Jenny Beth Martin is chairman of Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.