This is the first in a series of five articles by Stella Morabito this week on the way that political correctness is bullying conservative women into silence and how they can reclaim their rights to free expression.
Leslie Loftis touched on a delicate subject when she recently asked in this forum: “Where are all the conservative women?” Too many seem to be in hiding. Too many seem to have taken a vow of silence in the wider world, choosing to express their views only in like-minded company.
Leslie very recently produced an insightful piece at The Federalist that follows up on this general theme of disengagement. She and I have both been alarmed at what clearly looks to be a pattern of conservatives ghettoising themselves, especially through the act of self-silencing. The tendency to avoid expressing one’s beliefs goes beyond the fear of offending people in mixed company. Conservatives continue to do it even when they haven’t a clue if the acquaintance would agree or disagree with us. Have you ever noticed how folks on the other side seem to have no problem blurting out the politically correct line in similar circumstances?
We need to understand that there is more behind the practice of self-censorship than we realise.
First, it’s contagious. And that makes it a dangerous trap for everyone. Your silence helps to create a snowball effect, encouraging the silence of anyone else who may share your views. That silence also serves to reinforce caricatures of conservatives. And especially of conservative women.
So when we retreat into our comfort zones this way, we are really just painting ourselves – and our families – into a corner. We are aiding in the separation of ourselves from our allies or even knowing who our friends are.
Secondly, it’s a trap. The regime of political correctness has baited us into this trap of self-censorship. We fear losing influence by speaking up, but we’ve already ceded our influence when we refused to speak up.
This vicious cycle ends up doing something very big and bad: it fuels the erosion of all freedom of expression. And that loss ultimately puts us at the State’s mercy when it comes to freedom of association, with the endgame being the loss of our own family’s autonomy and privacy. Stay with me, please, and I’ll explain.
This is a five-part series. In this first part I’d like to give you the lay of the land as I see it: How and why the agents of political correctness target any independent thinker, but particularly conservative women. And what happens when we give in to self-censorship. In the second part, I’ll talk about something called “the spiral of silence.” In Part three, I’ll dig a bit more into the mechanics of political correctness and how it works and why I believe the only way out is through the “Hidden Sphere.” In Part Four, I explore a bit about the inextricable link between freedom and friendship. Finally, in the final installment, I offer a few prescriptions on how conservative women can resist getting sucked into the PC machine – and make friends (and, sure, some frenemies) along the way.
Baiting you into silence
The title of Loftis’s insightful post on this website explains who would bait you into this trap and why: “Conservative women are a deadly threat to liberal elites.” Yes, that’s right. By valuing and perpetuating families of independent thinkers, conservative women’s influence has the potential to extend vastly beyond our families. That’s because people with those values – such as loyalty, hard work, thrift, good cheer, kindness, goodwill to all -- have a tendency to build communities that value civil discourse and inquiry.
You have far more power than you realise. It’s no secret that the family has always been in the crosshairs of die-hard Marxists. Familial bonding, and maternal bonding in particular, gets in the way of re-making the human mind in the Marxist image. We nurture the development of unique and free personalities. This gets in the way of collectivising society to produce a mass mind in a state of mass conformity obedient to the mass State.
And that is precisely why leftist power elites are intent on making sure conservative women are caricatured and marginalised, and, above all, silenced. They aren’t after us because we’re sniveling little powerless mice tending to the kiddies, as they are wont to portray us. Quite the opposite.
Statists are forever trying to coax us into giving up being the hand that rocks the cradle so that they can take control of the cradle for themselves. If there was so little power in what we do and what we believe, why ever would they seek to do such a thing? Why would they even care?
They care not only because we have the power to express our views and values to the next generation, but that we are actually inclined do so. Not only that, but if we are stay at home mothers with a steady source of income independent of the State, they see us as dangerously free agents in our private lives. Vaclav Havel referred to this as the hidden sphere. I see the attack on the family as an attempt to destroy this hidden sphere. Stay at home mothers in particular have a lot of power to impart knowledge and understanding of our views – throughout our communities - without the threat of losing a job or career status.
So our silence expedites the consolidation of the centralised authoritarian state with its designs to abolish family autonomy. And you can bet that state licensing of parents is on that agenda.
I fear there’s far more at stake than we realise. Avoidance and retreat to our nests may be a comforting habit, but it, in effect, ends up shrinking the opportunity for others to build nests, especially as central planners consolidate more power into a centralised state and erode the hidden sphere. So self-censorship is a trap that contributes to less free and less happy world for all children to inhabit, not just our own.