Dear June: Advice to a Former Feminist

Some words of encouragement
January 4, 2021 Updated: January 9, 2021

Dear June,

I’ve been a subscriber to Epoch Times for about five months now and I’ve really been enjoying your column. I am a 39-year-old married woman with two boys, ages 6 and 8. This year has been profoundly transformational and challenging for me. I’ve lived my life as a strong, opinionated, career-oriented feminist who held tightly to the many beliefs and ideals of the liberal left. Well … I’ve undergone a huge change in my beliefs and attitudes toward family, feminism, masculinity, religion, economics, and politics. It’s been enlightening but also incredibly challenging because some of my relationships have changed.

My question for you is this: Can you recommend any resources, provide words of encouragement, or share experiences of those who have undergone a similar transformation? I feel like who I knew myself to be has been shattered and I’m trying to rebuild without completely losing myself. I’d be curious for your perspective.

Thanks so much.

Amanda C.

Dear Amanda,

It is no small thing to overturn one’s lifelong beliefs! But in my experience, when you disperse the fog of feminism, the men and boys in your life become amazing.

I never considered myself a feminist in theory, but in practice, my lack of understanding and appreciation for the inherent differences between men and women and our complementary virtues hung like a dead weight on my relationships, including my relationship with myself. Allowing myself to let go of always pushing myself to be strong and on task, and allowing myself to be gentle and adaptable has been so freeing and nourishing, both for myself and also for my family.

So my first resource recommendations would be the book “Fascinating Womanhood,” written by a Christian mother and published in the late 1960s. I’ve recommended this before because I found it inspiring and a good counterpoint to some of the ideas of second-wave feminism that were coming to popularity in the ’60s and that are now very generally accepted ideas.

In the same vein, there is a TED Talk titled “Meeting the Enemy” by filmmaker Cassie Jaye (bit.ly/37ZwSDq), who considered herself a feminist until she decided to make a film about the men’s rights movement. What I found fascinating about her story is that she spent a year interviewing men without really being able to hear what they were actually saying because in her head she translated everything through feminist rhetoric. It was only after she had to transcribe the interviews that she saw how biased she had been. So her story is a good reminder of the importance of truly listening.

Since you have sons, and if you have not already done so, I would recommend becoming familiar with their unique needs and forms of expression. I’ve appreciated the ideas of Kim John Payne, Meg Meeker, and Ted Braude, and on my list to explore is the work of Michael G. Thompson. Helen Andelin, the author of “Fascinating Womanhood,” also wrote a helpful book about raising children (she had eight).

And if you want to understand the connections between feminist ideas and communism, you can read chapter 7 of “How the Specter of Communism Is Ruling Our World,” a series published by The Epoch Times. This is available online (ReadEpoch.com/Specter).

On the lighter side, the YouTube channel The Daily Connoisseur offers a lot of inspiration for homemaking and creating beauty in daily life.

Regarding the challenge of transformation, I think it is important to acknowledge that in order to grow, there is pain and suffering. The hardest moments in my life have ultimately been what pushed me to strive to be and do better. I cannot think of any example in history where someone achieved greatness without pain and suffering, and at some level, I think we need this suffering to ennoble us. All this is to say that I think the person you will become through this process will be stronger, clearer, and more beautiful.

I realize that words like these may not offer much in the way of inspiration or solace when one is in the midst of hardship, so I’d also like to share some of the soul-stirring beauty that is available once one lets go of the mentality of struggle that comes with a worldview based on “-isms.”

In opposition to the struggle mentality is what I would call a reverence for life. It allows you to appreciate the strength, bravery, and stoicism of men; to be awed by the sacrifices of our ancestors; to be moved by great art; and to be humbled by the complexity of truth—how little we can actually know of it and how thrilling the discovery!

And what a joyful thing that you will be able to share this beauty with your boys.

One visual art piece that I’ve found inspirational is “God Speed” by English painter Edmund Leighton. It shows a knight saying a last farewell to his lady before riding off—presumably to battle. In his strength, her beauty and delicacy, and their evident mutual fondness I see the wonderful harmony of balanced masculine and feminine.

god speed by edmund leighton
“God Speed” (1900) by Edmund Leighton. (Public domain)

For more spiritual imagery, see the ceilings of Versailles—where gods and goddesses reign amidst luminous clouds. I find these works awesomely beautiful and inspiring.

“Innocence” by French painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau shows a mother holding her son and a young lamb. The baby is supposed to be the Christ child and the woman Mary, but to me, it looks like a shepherdess relishing a quiet moment while her child sleeps in her arms. There a feeling of softness and tranquility in the picture that I find very soothing.

l'innocence by william-adolphe bouguereau
“L’Innocence” (1893) by William-Adolphe Bouguereau. (Public Domain)

And for the more mundane, “The Milkmaid” by Dutch painter Vermeer also captures a beautifully quiet moment as a woman goes about her task of pouring milk.

the milkmaid
“The Milkmaid” (1658) by Johannes Vermeer. (Public domain)

As a final thought, once we step beyond the limited groupthink and start thinking for ourselves, we are on very shaky ground because we can no longer trust sources and knowledge as we used to. But I think there is an innate part of us that is able to discern truth—I would describe the feeling physically as a kind of warmth in the solar plexus, sometimes accompanied by a fullness in the heart, and a knowing that is calm. Conversely, when we lie, people report a feeling of pain or constriction in the solar plexus.

And in addition to a reverence for life, a reverence for truth is an important guide. I will end with a passage from Aristotle, who, much more eloquently than I could, explains the importance of precision in knowledge, the humility to acknowledge the limits of our knowledge, and the importance of maturation of intellect (which is something that for many of us, was not accomplished by our childhood schooling).

“It is the mark of an educated man to look for precision in each class of things just so far as the nature of the subject admits; it is evidently equally foolish to accept probable reasoning from a mathematician and to demand from a rhetorician scientific proofs.

“Now each man judges well the things he knows, and of these he is a good judge. And so the man who has been educated in a subject is a good judge of that subject, and the man who has received an all-round education is a good judge in general. Hence a young man is not a proper hearer of lectures on political science; for he is inexperienced in the actions that occur in life, but its discussions start from these and are about these; and, further, since he tends to follow his passions, his study will be vain and unprofitable, because the end aimed at is not knowledge but action. And it makes no difference whether he is young in years or youthful in character; the defect does not depend on time, but on his living, and pursuing each successive object, as passion directs. For to such persons, as to the incontinent, knowledge brings no profit; but to those who desire and act in accordance with a rational principle, knowledge about such matters will be of great benefit.”

And in closing, please give yourself and those around you an abundance of grace. I would guess some of your acquaintances might think you are crazy or are being brainwashed. I would not be too concerned about actively maintaining connections that now feel strained, but neither strain connections unnecessarily. Some people will be open to your transformation; some relationships may become more superficial or come to an organic close.  So in the same way that many cultures give mother and infant a period of quiet time together before baby meets the world, give yourself some incubation time to adjust to your new world.

And give yourself permission not to have abundant answers but to frame your questions well and embrace the journey to discover the answers. This is actually one of the most empowering things I can think of, because it allows you to seek ever higher and deeper truths.

Sincerely,

June

Do you have a family or relationship question for our advice columnist, Dear June? Send it to DearJune@EpochTimes.com or Attn: Dear June, The Epoch Times, 229 W. 28th St., Floor 7, New York, NY 10001.

June Kellum is a married mother of two and longtime Epoch Times journalist covering family, relationships, and health topics.