What conservative women think: a collection

For conservatives and the concurious

Assortment of news photographs of Margaret Thatcher entering Number 10 Downing Street after becoming the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1979.

There are a few problems with being a conservative female commentator. The root problem is invisibility. Big media goes for what it already knows, thus whenever they need the conservative woman’s take, they reach for a big name, usually whichever female commentator is currently talking on Fox.

The second major problem is there’s not an easy way to solve the first problem. Conservative women see ourselves as doctors, lawyers, accountants, writers, politicians — whatever — who happen to be women. Thus, we’ve rarely gathered on sites like Jezebel and have not organized into national advocacy groups like the National Organization for Women. And when we have tried that kind of grouping, we’ve not managed the membership success that NOW once boasted. We do not lack numbers, we simply do not organize around the fact that we are women.

We see this a strength, but it has become a practical problem.

There is no place to go to find our voice.

Ask “what do women think about x” and there will be any number of feminists claiming to represent what other women think about x easily available for an interview. They own the perception of speaking for most women because they speak with organization, coordination — and a generic female label: “feminist.” Ask “what do conservative women think about x” and where would someone go for the answer? To Fox, the one stop shop for finding a conservative woman for those who do not actually know any conservative women.

This shortcut creates the impression that conservative women largely agree on issues. Trust me on this one. We are not any sort of hive mind. We debate…frequently. Regardless, Fox does not provide a representative sample.

Yet, as far as the general public is concerned, conservative women have a position, which is probably whatever a famous Fox female said plus pro-life extremism.

After the 2016 election surprise, many shocked people started to suspect that, perhaps, the truth was not so simple, that maybe the media they relied upon for news and analyis didn’t actually know that much about anything, certainly not about what conservatives think. These curious folk not only want to read beyond their beliefs for perspective — they do not wish to be fooled by media again — but also want to understand what conservative women think. The habits of this particular president have made them quite curious about that.

Iron Ladies aims to cure the source problem by gathering conservative women’s voices.

I have found a few conservative women already on Medium. I hope to find more so that Iron Ladies will eventually have a steady stream of original content. My main goal, however, is to publish a weekly post of links to conservative women’s work outside of Medium. (I could post a daily list but for my personal time constraints; I will start with a weekly collection posted on Sundays.)

My only requirements for links or posts: thoughtful commentary on culture — high or pop — politics, or religion (or economics, see comments) by a conservative woman.*

UPDATE: A year later. Other writers have been found with more to come. The weekly post became The Collection, links with commentary sent out Sundays. Sign up. We may be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. On Twitter we have a list for the #concurious. It is a short list of right women who tweet with knowledge on a wide range of topics. On Facebook we have The Virtual Articles Club — think a book club, but for long-read essays instead of full books. Find us where ever you prefer.

Also note, I link to authors, not publications. Conservative media has significant limitations. Too much good work would go unnoticed if I ignored pieces because other content on a website and over which writers have no control is terrible.

A note about the term “conservative”

US political speech, both through natural evolution and manufactured confusion (see, for example, the evolution of the term “liberal”), has ceased to provide clarity necessary for productive political debate. We have lots of muddy terms. “Conservative” is one of them.

Painting with a broad brush, there are fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, and limited government, constitutional conservatives. These categories do not have to overlap and even limited government and constitutional are really two tight categories. Media, however, uses the term with a heavy implication of social issues, even though fiscal and limited government conservatives exist. (In very general terms, they are the Libertarians.) Overlay these subsets with the foreign policy spectrum of isolationist to interventionist and the label of “conservative” that gets used as some obvious label is not at all obviously anything. In my own writing I refer to the whole set as the “Right” and look at conservatives in their subsets. For The Collection and writings here at Iron Ladies, I will pull from any type or combination of conservative.

About the title and the artwork

The title and the artwork pay homage to Margaret Thatcher. One of the things conservative women often agree upon is general admiration for Thatcher. She was the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, a conservative and President Ronald Reagan’s ally and friend in the successful effort to defeat Soviet Russia and end the Cold War. A few noted her resolve early in her PMship, and a Soviet paper dubbed her the Iron Lady. She lived up to the title and conservative women aspire to Thatcher’s leadership abilities. When I was trying to figure out what to call this gathering, my husband remembered Thatcher’s informal title.

The artwork is line sketches by Tricia Hope Designs based off the photos of newly elected Prime Minister Thatcher entering 10 Downing Street for the first time. From the architecture to the iconic blue suit and handbag, the pictures say powerful and feminine. (And I particularly like the peacock transom window, but then I am a bit of an Anglophile anyway.)