Should feminists be pro-life? Should conservatives support more welfare for families? Who is Mary Wollstonecraft? What did RBG get right and wrong? I dug into these questions with my guest today, the legal scholar Erika Bachiochi. Our discussion centers on Erika’s new book, The Rights of Women: Reclaiming a Lost Vision, which argues for a form of feminism that takes into account natural differences between men and women, especially in what she calls “reproductive asymmetry” i.e. that having sex and having children carry different implications for men and women. We talk about her journey from a Bernie Sanders supporting kind of feminist to a Roman Catholic kind of feminist, including a strong pro-life moral basis. Her intellectual heroine is the 18th century thinker Mary Wollstonecraft, who had a feminist vision that was about the equal pursuit of the good, which Erika John Stuart Mill’s feminism based on a perfect equality.
We talk about what Ruth Bader Ginsburg got right and wrong, whether conservatives should be supporting President Biden’s big pro-family welfare expansions, the Texas abortion law, family-friendly policy, and much more.
I should say that at the very beginning Erika candidly describes her troubled childhood and early adulthood, which in her darkest hours ever led her to thoughts of suicide.
Erika Bachiochi is a legal scholar specializing in Equal Protection jurisprudence, feminist legal theory, Catholic social teaching, and sexual ethics. She studied at Middlebury College and got her law degree from Boston University. Erika is now a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a Senior Fellow at the Abigail Adams Institute, where she directs the Wollstonecraft Project. She lives in Boston with her husband and seven children.
Bachiochi’s new book, The Rights of Women: Reclaiming a Lost Vision, is a thoughtful and provocative read.
Her previous article in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, titled Embodied Equality: Debunking Equal Protection Arguments for Abortion Rights, served as a basis for her book.
Bachiochi has also written a few op-eds for Newsweek
Follow her work on twitter: @erikabachiochi
Bachiochi quited Mill in On Liberty: “misplaced notions of liberty prevent moral obligations on the part of parents from being recognized, and legal obligations from being imposed”
She also quoted Wollstonecraft in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: “A truly benevolent legislator always endeavours to make it the interest of each individual to be virtuous; and thus private virtue becoming the cement of public happiness, an orderly whole is consolidated by the tendency of all the parts towards a common center”
We referenced my work on the economic and social status of American women.
We discussed the work of my colleague, Isabel Sawhill, and her book Generation Unbound
I referenced Scott Winship’s work on the dynamics of marriage and childrearing
Bachiochi spoke about Mary Ann Glendon, a leading thinker in this space and a professor at Harvard Law.
She also referenced Joan Williams’ op-ed in the New York Times, titled The Case for Accepting Defeat on Roe.
I quoted Margaret Mead who wrote, “We won’t get equality between groups by ignoring the differences between them.”
Earlier this summer, Josh Hawley tweeted that he was against including women in the draft because he didn’t want to “force [service] upon our daughters, sisters, and wives.”
We mentioned Heather Boushey who currently serves on the White House Council of Economic Advisors, and her work on family policy, for example in her Finding Time: The Economics of Work-Life Conflict (2016).
The Mary Wollstonecraft twitter account I referred to seems to have gone quiet lately. As an alternative. As a replacement may I suggest: https://twitter.com/womenpostingws.
The Dialogues Team
Creator: Richard Reeves
Research: Ashleigh Maciolek