Domestic Tranquility: A Brief against Feminism

Article excerpt

Domestic Tranquility: A Brief Against Feminism

by F. Carolyn Graglia

Spence Publishing Company 1998 452 pages

$29.95 cloth; $18.95 paperback

Reviewed by Candace Allen

Domestic Tranquility is more than interesting reading if one sees it not as just another book on feminism, but one on what it means to be a woman.

Mrs. Graglia left her law practice in Washington in the 1950s to marry and raise a family. She believes that countless other women would consider the life she chose oppressive and her book answers the challenge with tremendous feminine insight.

But on the subject of feminism the author evidently hasn't had the benefit of reading the work of individualist feminist writers Wendy McElroy and Joan Kennedy Taylor. It's too bad. She no doubt would have avoided the tiring and stereotypical approach taken by antifeminists. But on to some good points.

Mrs. Graglia discerns the totalitarian bent of most feminists. She introduces one chapter with an EA. Hayek quotation regarding spontaneous order as opposed to deliberate construction of social order. Then she argues that the very "success" of feminism has been the imposition of legislation (for example, the "no-fault" divorce laws) that impose perverse incentives on wives and husbands who may otherwise have chosen a traditional family arrangement.

Yes, legal mandates intended to design specific social change have contributed to the demise of marriage and two-parent families. She realizes that institutions, evolving over time, serve to facilitate harmonious social interaction and that they are certainly preferable to interventions of the state. No-fault divorce, federally funded daycare programs, tax incentives rewarding unmarried parents, and abortions for minors change incentives and adversely affect the institutions of marriage and family.

She does not actively seek policy intervention, but suggests tax breaks for married couples with children cared for at home as a legal antidote to the social outcomes sought by social feminists. But the crux of the issue should be that tax policy has unintended consequences, and trying to offset the bad consequences with the good usually backfires.

Missing from the book is evidence of any awareness that licensing restrictions, heavy taxation, business-entry and technologyrelated regulations, certification, and testing all prevent women from discovering creative ways to remain home- and family-centered. …