The Smart Girl Summit is a gathering of Tea Party women taking place in Washington this week. I am there today and having a powerful flashback to my days covering the conservative Christian homeschooling movement. Only here is the crucial difference: As I wrote in my dialogue with Emily Bazelon and Dahlia Lithwick last week, “Decoding Christine O’Donnell,” the Tea Party types seem to have substituted the word Constitution in every spot where, 10 years ago, you would have heard the word Bible . They talk about their “conversions” to the movement and their “calling” and the many ways you can “plant the seed.”
Dana Loesch , a blogger and radio personality who is the brunette’s answer to Ann Coulter (skinny, fearless, shiny high heel boots, tattoo, husband with a leather cuff and earring), told a story of some activists who were being teased by guys playing basketball. The activists left them some pocket Constitutions. When the activists came back around, the boys were sitting on their basketballs, head bowed, reading the Constitutions.
I’m not sure how this came about, but the result, at this summit, is a fiercer kind of conservative feminism. In years past, conservative feminists were always hampered by both reproductive issues and Christian teachings about the proper role of a woman. A very conservative woman could only go so far in a culture that fundamentally believed women should submit to their husbands. But this time, that’s off the table. In one of the sessions, someone asked about abortion. “No one cares about that,” a speaker responded. And the Christian talk, while here, is sublimated.
This has produced a crew of women who can use their domestic competence as mothers and family accountants as a direct route to political power. In a world where only taxes and big government count, women can speak up just as loudly.