The Journal

Liberated Enough: Feminism, Liberalism, and Conservatism

“Feminists, in particular, must grasp that pursuing choice and sameness much further is radically counter to the embodied and rela­tional interests of women as a sex class, and of human society overall.” -Mary Harrington


"As we enter the foothills of this technological revolution, this essay explores how changing material conditions contributed to the re­negotiation of sex roles in the past. For these changes were the crucible in which feminism as we understand it today was originally forged. I will first show how the preindustrial social model for relations between the sexes was renegotiated for the industrial era. Then, I will outline the ways in which the legacy of this initial renegotiation is now driving a mismatch between settled social norms concerning human sex relations and emerging material conditions. This mismatch in turn calls for a reevaluation of the industrial-era privileging of freedom and progress, which has now turned conclusively against the interests of women."

Table of Contents:

  • I. The Personal Is Political
  • II: The Natural Course of Things
  • III: The Cult of True Womanhood
  • IV: Entering the Marketplace
  • V: Conservatism’s “Women Problem”
  • VI: Feminism beyond Liberalism

This article appears in American Affairs Volume V, Number 3 (Fall 2021): 185–99

Mary Harrington

Mary Harrington

Contributing Editor, UnHerd

Mary Harrington is a contributing editor for the UK current affairs magazine, UnHerd. Feminism against Progress, her book on feminism in the biotech era, will be published by Polity Books in 2022.

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