Civic housekeeping

Jean Elshtain on mothering and other duties
Jean Bethke Elshtain began her career by challenging traditional gender roles—the assumption that the public realm is primary and belongs to men, and that the private realm is secondary and belongs to women. Characteristically, she applied her analysis in unpredictable ways, as indicated by the title of one of her early books, Women and War. The place of women in the conduct of war was not a typical feminist concern. Further complicating her feminist vision was Elshtain’s fierce defense of women’s work in the domestic sphere. The moral imperative women have felt to shape the home, she argues, has empowered women and advanced culture.


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