Shulamith Firestone died this Tuesday at the age of 67, reports the Times. Back in June, Patrick Deneen penned an “On the Square” about how Firestone’s thought is being rejected by some young women today. It amounts to a sort of intellectual obituary to read alongside the news accounts:
Firestone held that liberation would not be achieved until all forms of reproductive differentiation by sex were eliminated through technology. Thus, she called not only for “the full restoration to women of ownership of their own bodies, but also their (temporary) seizure of control of human fertility—the new population biology as well as all the social institutions of child-bearing and child-rearing.” Women had to be liberated from the bondage of their bodies in order to achieve equality. [ . . . ]
How does the unquestioned Progressive commitment to human mastery over sex and reproduction fit with Progressive criticism of technological control of the natural world? The very same environmentalist commitments that lead to criticisms of techno-optimism in its application to nature do not appear to extend to human nature, including human reproduction. This juxtaposition is at least puzzling, if not outright contradictory.
This contradiction has been increasingly called out and criticized by a younger generation of Catholic women who—to their great credit—have embraced a consistent “green philosophy” that does not stop at the point of their own fertility.