Campus crusade for Crittenden

A new generation of antifeminist collegiate women is born.

Published June 13, 2006 6:36PM (EDT)

The best sign yet that feminism among college-age women is enjoying a vibrant, exciting renaissance: There's a brand-spanking-new group of young conservative women banding together to fight it!

Recent University of Virginia graduate Karin Agness founded the Network of Enlightened Women (NeW), a kind of junior Independent Women's Forum, two years ago, as a diametrically opposed alternative to campus feminist organizations. Now there are chapters at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Boise State, Drake in Iowa, North Carolina's High Point University, Ohio State, Vanderbilt, and William and Mary. The U-Va. branch got people so riled as to provoke a cover illustration of a female baby machine on a student magazine under the headline "Manifest Domesticity." (Awesome headline, incidentally.)

As Time points out, while campus conservatism isn't new, "until now there hasn't been a group on campus that has specifically taken on modern feminism the way national groups like the Independent Women's Forum and the Eagle Forum have done in Washington." These young women read Danielle Crittenden and Christina Hoff Sommers, attend conferences keynoted by Ann Coulter and Elaine Chao, spread jittery but false gossip that Lynne Cheney is a donor, and host '80s dances in honor of Ronald Reagan's birthday.

Seriously, it may be perverse, but I sort of love this story, and this group. It honestly reassures me once again that a passion for current feminism is alive and urgent among young women. If it weren't, a group like NeW wouldn't have any reason for being.

So welcome, ladies, to the battle of the ideologies. May you all produce new Schlaflys with just slightly less alacrity than your peers produce new Steinems.

By Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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