"Backlash," review Women and the Common Life: Love, Marriage, and Feminism, by Christopher Lasch, Weekly Standard, 14 April 1997.
The late Christopher Lasch was one of those rare men who take women seriously. He did this by taking their arguments seriously, an effort which in our time begins with taking feminism seriously. In Women and the Common Life, a collection of his last articles, Lasch considers the essential feminist argument for “choice” — a life of autonomy or perfect freedom. Without ever attacking feminism, he finds that feminist choice does not make sense and harms our democracy.
A historian, Lasch sees feminism in its historical context. He notes that feminism defines its own context as a revolution against patriarchy. Just as the French revolutionaries invented the term ancien regime to describe everything before the revolution of 1789, so the feminists have set up ” patriarchy” as a catch-all category covering all history before the 1960s. They want it made clear that only today’s feminism can sustain women’s self- respect, so they measure every other situation for women by today’s standard. They also need a target for blame.