Pro-life feminist scholar Erika Bachiochi has written a brilliant new book, The Rights of Woman: Reclaiming a Lost Vision. In it, she sheds new light on the eminently deserving but under-celebrated thinker, the English philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft, whose 1792 book A Vindication of the Rights of Women articulated a vision of equal opportunities for women based on inherent human dignity and with a life of virtue as the goal.
For Wollstonecraft, political freedom and legal equality were not ends in themselves but necessary means to higher human ends: the common pursuit of intellectual and moral excellence.
This enlightened view became lost when feminism became wedded to the sexual revolution–and then, overarchingly abortion. Not only was the pursuit of virtue lost in favor of “an all-encompassing, individualistic dedication to pursuit of success in the workplace, too often at the expense of familial relationships,” but women, instead of being empowered, continued to be disproportionately harmed by the separation of sexual activity from responsibility—and parenthood.
The Rights of Women is an absorbing journey through the intellectual history and philosophy of early feminism, up until the present, with an important look at the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her contradicting “two pillars” of legal thought: antidiscrimination for women and pro-abortion rights. In chapter 9, “Sexual Asymmetry, American Law and Renewed Family Ecology,” Bachiochi introduces the reader to the life and groundbreaking family law scholarship of her mentor Mary Ann Glendon; in the final chapter, “Reimagining Feminism Today in Search of Human Excellence,” she proposes her own set of suggestions for policies that would bring feminism back to its real roots, based on human dignity, sexuality guided by restraint and virtue, and the primacy of the family—men and women working together to nurture and instill virtue in their children.
I am honored to be taking part in a panel discussion about the book—on November 18th, in New York City. Erika Bachiochi will be joined by me, Michele Sterlace, Esq., Executive Director of Feminists Choosing Life of New York, and Charlie Camosy, Associate Professor of Theology at Fordham University, in a discussion moderated by National Review Institute’s Kathryn Jean Lopez.
Tickets are $25, students $10, and include refreshments, at the beautiful solarium at the 3 West Club, across the street from St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Register here.
Please come if you can—but most important, buy, read and share this terrific book!