I think of myself as a bridge between conservative communities and feminist scholars and historians who champion progressive causes and left-leaning politics. I grew up in a conservative Republican household. My mother volunteered at a crisis pregnancy center when I was a child and I even gave up my favorite baby doll at the age of six to further her work counseling women against abortion. When I was a teenager, my mother returned to college as a non-traditional student. There she encountered new ways of thinking and began the process of self-identifying as a feminist and progressive as I was coming of age. Together we analyzed our conservative upbringings, our shared Roman Catholic faith, and the ramifications of patriarchy in society and our own families. We were a two-woman consciousness raising group twenty years too late. I never left conservative circles and friendships, even as I engaged in feminist and progressive activism in college and graduate school. After all, it’s impossible to do so when one has uncles leading the Tea Party movement and dear family friends who are leaders of the abstinence only education movement.
I am also part of a growing contingent of feminist scholars who believe that understanding and including conservative women is central to their own activism. Scholarship on conservative women re-claims the experience of all women and demystifies the strength of the right by critically examining the gendered nature of conservative ideology, practice and discourse. I am dedicated not only to studying these women, but to ensuring that their important contributions to American and international politics are preserved for future activists, citizens and scholars of the left and right.