Mary Harrington: Feminism against progress
Should the future of womanhood look more like the past?
Yesterday was the launch of UnHerd columnist Mary Harrington’s first book, Feminism Against Progress. Her radical manifesto argues that as humanity charges into the era of biotech, AI and ‘all pervasive computing’, it is time to acknowledge that progressive hyper-individualism has been a net negative for modern women.
To celebrate the book’s release, which can be purchased here, UnHerd‘s Freddie Sayers sat down with Mary in the studio to explore how past personal experiences informed her philosophical vision of the future.
Like what you’re reading? Get the free UnHerd daily email
Already registered? Sign in
What a refreshing interview. I expect that the sneaking suspicions that many women have had raising their children over the past couple of decades within an deeply individualistic culture will be articulated in Mary’s book. That women’s bodies (and minds) are beautiful, useful, fruitful and to be honored. That long term satisfying sex is possible, that fulfilling work can be creatively achieved along side having children. I’m feeling very relieved and hopeful for women and motherhood for a new era. Thanks so much for your work Mary. Considering the pure trauma facing young women today tiptoeing through the minefield of sex and our relationships with our own bodies, it’s very very significant.
Best wishes to Mary H. for the success of her book. She’s certainly one of the cleverest and most original writers anywhere on the net. She seems to have arrived, fully formed as a writer, on Unherd a few years ago. No apprenticeship needed.
Excellent stuff. An interesting and constructive push back here: Marching Backwards (quillette.com)
I thought Ms. Simon’s pushback was essentially in the realm of ‘there must be a better way’ the lodestone of all progressive/utopian thinking. But Mary is bravely pointing to the probability that there isn’t, if humanity is to survive and flourish.
I agree that civilization requires that women use their sexual leverage in a way that supports relationships and family life. Otherwise, as the saying goes, why buy the cow when you can get milk for free. However, there is a game theoretic aspect to this which makes it difficult for women to go against the culture and do this in isolation. Once one woman increases her hemlines, there is pressure on all women to do the same, and it becomes a race to the bottom. This is why, historically, people have formed socially conservative groups where conservative behaviour is reinforced and rewarded. Pauls letter to Titus is very explicit that the early Christian Church was sold as a new deal between the sexes in which men were expected to moderate their impulses in exchange for being considered the titular head of the family. What the terms of a new “deal” between the sexes in our post Christian world might be, and whether a new deal can be brokered in the absence of religious strictures, is an interesting question. But the terms of the current deal only seem to be working for a small number of high status men, and not so great for anyone else.
Too narrow an interpretation and hints of misogyny and maybe even incelism? ..am I over-interpreting??
Excellent. It’s a relief to hear these ideas expressed; what we have lost as men & women in the push to make everything co-ed. She may be relieved to hear that there are male only spaces, where men are themselves but they have shifted from the pub & the shed. Women seem to be loosing out in so many ways; their choices prescribed for them by social media because that has replaced friendship groups. From where I’m sitting (teaching health & social care to teenagers) they are more constrained & manipulated than I’ve seen in my life time. Most of them perceive relationships through a lens that has processed what womanhood & relationships should be and produced a sugar free alternative that looks the same but leaves a nasty taste in the mouth.
Very good and challenging interview so thanks to Mary and Freddy. I may well end up getting this book as I hugely admire Mary’s writing style and think there will be a lot in Feminism against Progress which I will agree with but also quite a bit that will challenge me both intellectually and culturally.
Brilliant book, thoroughly recommended! I wish Mary Harrington every success with it.
As the argumentative old git that I am I tried hard to disagree with Mary Harrington on something fgs! ..but I failed, except for one small issue! I’m bloody well having scatter cushions in my shed, so there!
I’m assuming this Mary may have been (slightly?) influenced by another (reawakened?) Mary, namely Mary Kenny who dumped her radical activism and opposition to everything for a nice, normal but still fully liberated mother and wife (et al) role?
The essence of it all I feel was summed up in her statement: “Every action has consequences”, some obviously negative so be slow to throw out even the bathwater as there may be a shortage! Bathwater doesn’t grow on trees!
Join the discussion
To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.
Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.Subscribe