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Hag Feminism: Your Thoughts
Feedback on my interview with Victoria Smith
Lots of positive responses to this interview, I’ve collated some of the most interesting comments below.
Plus an exciting update: we’re going to start releasing episodes more frequently! Not quite two a week yet, but 5 or 6 a month. And all thanks to the boost in paid subscribers we’ve had since we launched on Substack, just over three weeks ago. Maiden Mother Matriarch is now officially a ‘bestseller’, or so I’m told.
If you’d like to help us release more frequent episodes, you can do so either by signing up as a paid subscriber and getting access to all of our extended episodes, or by buying a gift subscription for someone you think would value MMM.
I found the discussion on the roles of a mother and the societal status of mothers really fascinating. Alway end up feeling so conflicted on this issue (almost 40 yo with X2 daughters 6&4). Good to hear a nuanced discussion about it. For me despite having achieved relative professional success and earning decent salary etc being a mother and wife is still by far what I feel most fulfilled by. However, definitely conditioned to lead with my professional status in conversations!!
I enjoyed the podcast but was struck by how many times there were allusions to some amorphous Force that compels women to act in one way or another. You did mention some high status leftist males at one point but never elaborated. To my testosterone addled mind it seems that many of these issues are self-immolation on the part of high status women towards the other 95% of the sex. Perhaps I'm wrong but it seems that second wave feminism basically assassinated the mother and by logical extension the matriarch.
As for the "Won't Someone Think of the Children" and Mary Whitehouse stuff. The best American equivalent might be Prohibitionist women who advocated for the outlawing the selling of alcohol in the 18th Amendment (passed by congress in 1917, ratified in 1919), which is now widely regarded as a failure. (Note: It did reduce alcohol consumption overall but it was still widely —and openly practiced— as you will see below. Also, the Mafia was given a HUGE boost by it.)
So, the story: middle-aged killjoy shrews wage war on the right of Americans to drink alcohol. And women DID form a sort of anti-repeal wall in the 20s, repeatedly voting for the pro-enforcement Republican Party. Though there were women who supported repeal and the photos you usually see are of young flappers advocating.
But what's left out of the story is a number of the arguments in favor of repeal, especially those put forward by the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform, was basically a "Think of the children" argument. Examples —The state was so incapable of enforcing the law that it was increasing a disrespect for the law among children. —It had greatly empowered the mafia and organized crime (this is pretty true), resulting in bootleggers becoming increasingly popular among boys and girls. —It was easier for teens to purchase alcohol because the speakeasies didn't have to worry about losing a now non-existent liquor license if they sold to minors.
As Pauline Sabin, head of WONPR, said: "The young see the law broken at home and upon the street. Can we expect them to be lawful?" Sabin was kind of forgotten until, I think, a book written in 2010, LAST CALL: RISE AND FALL OF PROHIBITION by Daniel Okrent, where the author as a key factor in the repeal of prohibition. But she's still largely unknown and I think because her arguments were often "think of the children." Also, she was kind of middle-aged and not as sexy as a young flapper holding a "repeal" sign.
TLDR: Prohibition was passed because a bunch of Mrs. Lovejoys looked at the effects of alcohol consumption and said "think of the children" and then was repealed over a decade later because a bunch of Mrs. Lovejoys looked at the consequences of prohibition and said "think of the children." (Though we should not discount the possibility that the truly terrible state of the economy in 1932 might have pushed a number of women to the pro-repeal FDR and Democrats, albeit for economic reasons.)
I did feel though that the discussion on Botox pulled the punch. The logic of capitalism means that anything potentially profitable is going to be supported by powerful marketing so, if we wish to oppose the ratchet towards ever greater medical intervention being required to be normal, we need something stronger than "I'd prefer if we were able just to have more conservations about what women look like". "It just has this over time very corrosive affect on society and on women's self-esteem" felt like a strong argument for using the state's power!
And finally an important question: what counts as ‘middle aged’? I said (provocatively!) during the interview that, at the age of 31, I reckon I’m already middle aged. As David Anson commented:
it was bold to define middle aged as 30-60. Not only would Peckham declare war in response, so would many professionals who believe their options increase over time and probably regard their 50s as middle aged.
(For context, Peckham is a gentrified area of South London containing a lot of “dog parents”).
At least V Thompson was with me:
I've been calling myself middle-aged since I was 27. I hate the culture of infinitely prolonged adolescence.