A correspondent asked me to define civic feminism, and I got the distinct impression that she wasn’t expecting what I wrote. Below is what I sent her, expanded a bit.
The last real remaining barrier to women’s equality in this country is our general refusal to claim responsibility for creating, shaping, and defending the public world, and for that matter the Republic itself.
Civic feminism should claim this responsibility for women in a way that speaks to men, too, aspart of a general revival of citizenship in these troubled times.
Finally, we should offer this civic feminism to the women (and men) of the Third/Developing World, for the wars that will consume our world are going to be fundamentally about who is human, and what it means to be human, and live a more fully human life.
Civic feminism has three values. The personal, or if you prefer, private value is to make it possible for people to inhabit and more fully inhabit their own lives. The civic, or if you prefer, public value, is to raise the standards by which we treat each other. And the bedrock upon which the rest is the equal human and civic worth of all individuals.
And it has only one rule: civility. That people talk to each other like citizens, persuading and being persuaded in turn, by facts and ideas. No venting, no hissy-fitting, no screaming.
I’m deep into my next writing project, so I’ll be posting more on this shortly, carving it out of my longer prose.