Catholic Culture Liturgical Living
Catholic Culture Liturgical Living

167—Early Feminism Was Worse Than You Think—Carrie Gress

By Catholic Culture Podcast ( bio - articles - email ) | Sep 15, 2023 | In The Catholic Culture Podcast

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Catholic critics of feminism often start with the assumption that the “first wave” of feminism, led by 19th-century figures such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, was basically a good thing and compatible with Catholic teachings; only later in the 1960s and 70s, according to this narrative, was the movement “hijacked” by “radical feminists”.

The only problem is that when one actually looks closely at feminism in its early form, whether that of Stanton and Anthony or even earlier with Mary Wollstonecraft, one finds obvious continuities with so-called “radical feminism”.

On the level of ideas, we find Enlightenment individualism, rationalism, and egalitarianism attacking as oppressive the natural institutions of marriage and family and the divinely ordained hierarchies of the Church.

On the personal level, feminism was from the beginning the brainchild of traumatized, miserable women who had deeply dysfunctional relationships with the men in their lives—their ideas eagerly championed by men like Percy Shelley, who “liberated” women in order to exploit them.

Carrie Gress returns to the show to discuss her book The End of Woman: How Smashing the Patriarchy Has Destroyed Us, which tells the stories of feminist pioneers from Wollstonecraft, Stanton, and Shelley to Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem.


Carrie Gress, The End of Woman: How Smashing the Patriarchy Has Destroyed Us

Dawn Eden, “Eve of Deconstruction: Feminism and John Paul II”

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Thomas V. Mirus is Director of Podcasts for, hosts The Catholic Culture Podcast, and co-hosts Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast. See full bio.

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