cover of book

Big Sister: Feminism, Conservatism, and Conspiracy in the Heartland
by Erin M. Kempker
University of Illinois Press, 2018
Cloth: 978-0-252-04197-6 | eISBN: 978-0-252-05070-1 | Paper: 978-0-252-08366-2
Library of Congress Classification HQ1438.I6K46 2018
Dewey Decimal Classification 305.42097720904

The mid-Seventies represented a watershed era for feminism. A historic National Women's Conference convened in Houston in 1977. The Equal Rights Amendment inched toward passage. Conservative women in the Midwest, however, saw an event like the International Year of the Woman not as a celebration, but as part of a conspiracy that would lead to radicalism and one-world government. Erin M. Kempker delves into how conspiracy theories affected--and undermined--second wave feminism in the Midwest. Focusing on Indiana, Kempker views this phenomenon within the larger history of right-wing fears of subversion during the Cold War. Feminists and conservative women each believed they spoke in women's best interests. Though baffled by the conservative dread of "collectivism," feminists compromised by trimming radicals from their ranks. Conservative women, meanwhile, proved adept at applying old fears to new targets. Kemper's analysis places the women's opposing viewpoints side by side to unlock the differences that separated the groups, explain one to the other, and reveal feminism's fate in the Midwest.

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