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Mothers of ConservatismWomen and the Postwar Right$
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Michelle M. Nickerson

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691121840

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691121840.001.0001

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The “Conservative Sex”

The “Conservative Sex”

Women and the Building of a Movement

(p.136) Chapter V The “Conservative Sex”
Mothers of Conservatism

Michelle M. Nickerson

Princeton University Press

This chapter studies women's influence on conservatism as it entered the movement phase in the early 1960s. Even as they denounced the mass politics they feared, conservatives came to recognize the necessity of stimulating a popular consciousness on the right to thwart momentum growing on the left, especially among youths. The anticommunist crusade that had been building among activists over the 1950s became a natural source from which to draw the necessary vigor to generate a movement, which leaders explicitly recognized. Women activists, already a central part of this crusade, became an essential part of the coalescing conservative movement. They formed chapters of the John Birch Society, a national organization that self-consciously sought to replicate leftist tactics to thwart “communism,” which it conflated with all liberal movements. Women opened “patriotic” bookstores in their neighborhoods that featured their favorite conservative authors. The chapter ends with the presidential election of 1964, when the campaign of Barry Goldwater, which incorporated conservative women in new ways, came to be known as a movement.

Keywords:   conservative movement, conservative women, conservatism, John Birch Society, anticommunism

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