Kate Millett’s Legacy

She may rest in peace, but not the many whose lives became road-kill to her revolutionary zeal. She plied her doctoral dissertation into the best-selling Sexual Politics, roundly critiqued for its shallowness and inaccuracy. No worries; it became a bible of sorts for what is called second-wave feminism.

For those who experience the present with a gnawing sense of disbelief that so many can be duped by so much foolishness, looking back at similar exercises in mass delusion might convince them that it can indeed happen again. Here is a sampler of Kate Millett’s legacy, as articulated by her sister:

“Why are we here today?” she asked.

“To make revolution,” they answered.

“What kind of revolution?” she replied.

“The Cultural Revolution,” they chanted.

“And how do we make Cultural Revolution?” she demanded.

“By destroying the American family!” they answered.

“How do we destroy the family?” she came back.

“By destroying the American Patriarch,” they cried exuberantly.

“And how do we destroy the American Patriarch?” she replied.

“By taking away his power!”

“How do we do that?”

“By destroying monogamy!” they shouted.

“How can we destroy monogamy?”

“By promoting promiscuity, eroticism, prostitution and homosexuality!” they resounded.

I’ve known women who fell for this creed in their youth who now, in their fifties and sixties, cry themselves to sleep decades of countless nights grieving for the children they’ll never have and the ones they coldly murdered because they were protecting the empty loveless futures they now live with no way of going back.  “Where are my children?  Where are my grandchildren?” they cry to me.

We’re all so busy congratulating each other because Ronald Reagan “won the Cold War without firing a shot” entirely missing the bare truth which is that Mao, with his Little Red Book and the Soviets, won the Cold War without firing a shot by taking over our women, our young and the minds of everyone tutored by Noam Chomsky and the textbooks of Howard Zinn. Post-graduate Junior is Peter Pan trapped in the Never Neverland of Mom’s (she’s divorced now) basement. Christina Hoff Sommers says, “Moms and dads, be afraid for your sons. There’s a ‘war on men’ that started a long time ago in gender studies classes and in women’s advocacy groups eager to believe that men are toxic… Many ‘educated women’ in the U.S. have drunk from the gender feminist Kool Aid.  Girls at Yale, Haverford and Swarthmore see themselves as oppressed.  This is madness.”

Perhaps, charitably, part of her legacy is that many who came after her realized that her excess was fraught, and embraced alternatives – agree with them or not – that were more reasonable.

And part of the take-away for us should be a healthy suspicion of all movements that break too quickly or emphatically with the past, be they political, social, or religious. Perhaps this is part of the sage advice of our Sages: בנין נערים סתירה, which can be paraphrase as “the ostensibly constructive programs of the unseasoned usually turn out to be destructive.”

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40 Responses

  1. dr. bill says:

    Amen. You are clarifying an issue that is often encountered in the process of change: Early proponents of various forms of change exaggerate the level or accelerate the rate at which change ought to occur. They are, as you articulate, dead wrong; on occasion tragically so, as in your example.

    That said, there are less egregious examples of such behavior as well as attempts to preserve the traditional past in a significantly changed environment that occur much more commonly. Both the early proponents of change and the those clinging to the past are, very often deservedly, attacked and/or ridiculed. But in various contexts, changes occur, but in a slower, more deliberate and, perhaps most importantly, a more carefully delineated way. Interestingly, movements who may have gone through arduous transformation, may still be seen and treated, decades later, as their first instantiation.

    • Bob Miller says:

      Change, at whatever rate, can be positive or negative in various degrees. The “changed environment” can be an environment degraded by the wrong sort of changes, so it’s simplistic, even defeatist, to take that as a given that we need to settle for. We’re in a season of teshuvah, not only for individuals.

      “If you believe you can ruin,
      believe that you can repair!”
      (Likutei Moharan II:112)

      See also,

    • Steve Brizel says:

      100% true. Marxists/Lenists have never changed their ideology and goal drspite the failure of Marxist Lenism in every country where it reigned as totalitarian Communist dictatorship.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      One small amendment- words expressed as statements of an ideological perspective matter. They should never be treated as mere elements of raising the consciousness of the public because such statements clearly state an unabashed intent and purpose.

  2. mycroft says:

    I find it illegitimate to quote relatives of people who disagree with them as proof of anything. There are books written that are written by those who left our machene. I respect one who came from a Rabbinic family for using a different name. IMO never assume, children, siblings , parents, etc agree with any close relative.

    • Bob Miller says:

      I’m impressed with the sister’s knowledge of Kate Millett’s destructive program. Anyone who went through that time with eyes open, whether they were for the program or against it, would agree that the program contained the elements named.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      You dont need quotes from. Famiky rekatived to see the destruction wrought and caused by feminism to the conventional family and morality.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Anyone as opposed to a relative who has seen the damage wrought by feminism and its offshoots which may very well be the AZ of our times could jave written the linkef article. Denying the cultural devastation wrought by feminism sttiles me as denial of the facts on the ground

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Let me offer a contemporary mashul in response. One of the most important parts in any automobile is the transmission. When it goes tge expense justifies buying or leasing a replacement. Parents like ut or not are in the business of transmitting a tradition of Torah fmAvodah and Gmilus Chasadim which represents the past to todays generation which will be in turn transmitted to the future. A break in rhe transmisdion should be viewed as tragic as opposed to being solely of historical value.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Why? You would be surprised at how many former socialists either wrote works like The god thatFailed or became neoconservatives after realizing and seeing that socialism while wonderful in theory and its goals led to so as much human tragedy as Nazism when applied in practice .

    • Steve Brizel says:

      IiRC stalins daughter was granted political asylum.and wrote an autobiography that was bery critical of her upbringing and the Communist system. Would you consider such a work as not worth reading as opposed to a security blanket like Hillary Clintons blMe everyone but herself book on why she lost?

  3. Steve Brizel says:

    Those who doubt that feminism was and is always about destroying the American family should reread the works of its founders who like Ms. Millet always expressly stated that the same was their goal.

  4. Raymond says:

    According to my understanding, the reason why the French and Russian Revolutions ended in such murderous disaster, while the British and American Revolutions ended in freedom and Democracy, is that the former relied totally on our ability to reason, while the latter mediated our thinking abilities with established religious institutions. A similar phenomenon exists in the writings of the Rambam, who is often thought of as the Supreme Rationalist, and yet he, too, made it clear that whatever he reasoned through, was mediated through traditional Jewish assumptions. Most famously in that regard are his 13 Principles of Faith. There is no getting around the reality that at a certain point, even the most brilliant of minds fall short, and must rely on centuries-long traditions.

    I am reminded of an expression, which I think comes from a secular source, although it may have roots in our traditions, like any other wise saying seems to come from. It says that “Wise people learn from other people’s mistakes, while foolish people learn from their own mistakes.” The problem with too many feminists, is the same problem with many such radical movements: they think that they are the smart ones, that their few minutes of contemplating whatever issue they are feeling passionate about, must be right, that everybody else who came before they were living in ignorance and darkness. They see only the good in their various ideological movements, completely ignoring the negative ramifications of their ideas.

    Now, I am going to say something controversial here, but at least now I have issued the proper warning. The way I see it, if a woman wants to live the life traditionally assigned to a man, pursuing her own interests, pursuing a full-time career, especially ones of great external power and so on, far be it for me to deny such a woman that right. However, she should also know that such a path in life has really negative consequences. Fair or not, the most important institution for any viable, long-lasting, successful society is the family, and the one who most determines a successful family is the woman of the home. Without a wife supporting her husband, without a wife putting her children ahead of her own selfish needs, the family cannot thrive or really even exist in the first place, in any meaningful way. And so really, a woman has to make a choice, between living the dream that short-sighted feminists envision, or to live the life of a supportive wife and mother, thereby helping to ensure the survival of the human race. Ultimately, then, even more than our planet’s existence depends on men curbing their desire to blow each other up, it depends on women deciding to sacrifice their narrow, particular needs for the sake of humankind’s greater needs.

    • Bob Miller says:

      It’s hard to imagine that the Jacobins and Bolsheviks acted solely on logic and reason and not on violent urges toward mayhem and domination. Their urges, untempered by Divine Law, had distorted and overcome their reason. The high-sounding theories that allegedly guided them were a smokescreen.

      • David Ohsie says:

        “Now, I am going to say something controversial here, but at least now I have issued the proper warning. The way I see it, if a woman wants to live the life traditionally assigned to a man, pursuing her own interests, pursuing a full-time career, especially ones of great external power and so on, far be it for me to deny such a woman that right. However, she should also know that such a path in life has really negative consequences. ”

        This is a free country and you can say what you like. I’m not sure why any woman would even begin to listen to you. I’m also not sure why a man pursuing a career is unselfishly sacrificing for family, while a woman similarly situated is being selfish.

  5. Steve Brizel says:

    One cannot deny all of the facts on the ground that a normal family with a father and mother is the most conducive envrironment for raising children .

  6. I think we are all ignoring the catalyst for the feminist movement: The husband of the traditional family was given nearly absolute power over all important decisions made in the family. He was supposed to be the undisputed “man of the house”. The wife had a vote, but no veto.

    It’s one thing to devote your life to nurturing others. Its another thing to have to submit yourself to a (benevolent–if you were lucky) dictator.

    • Bob Miller says:

      Something tells me that the more radical feminists were OK with a dictator as long they were it.

    • DF says:

      That’s complete and total revisionist fiction. Women were hardly the doorsteps you portray them to be prior to 1964. Have you any idea how many businesses were run by women in Europe? And any woman who wanted and was able could attend college. The chief “accomplishment” of Title VII was not to enable women who wanted to advance to do so – that, they could do along. Rather, it was to downgrade and denigrate traditional notions of chastity, of being a wife and mother, of raising a family. THAT, and none other, is the disastrous legacy of what feminism wrought.

  7. David Ohsie says:

    I don’t want to attempt a pointless argument about the definition of feminism. Suffice it to say that this graph (which I’ve cited many times in one form or another) describes both the motivation and fruits of mainstream feminism: https://cdn.theatlantic.com/static/mt/assets/hua_hsu/cohen_doctorlawyer.png.

    It shows how in 1970 fewer than 10% of medical school and law school graduates were women. Both numbers are close to 50% now.

    How anyone could say it was better when women were discriminated against in one form or another (intentionally or unintentionally by being too busy sewing the new clothes and then hand-washing them) and excluded from various intellectual professions is beyond me.

    I’ll also state again that the relatively small number of homosexuals are homosexuals because that is who they are, not because they want to destroy marriage.

    I don’t know much about Kate Millet, but if her ideas are as bad as supposed in this post, then I’m not sure why she is at all relevant. That would be like trying to argue against Orthodoxy by citing the extreme Neturei Karta who sympathize with Iran.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      The principal means of transmisdion of Torah and Torah values is the family supplemented by communal institutuons such as the shul yeshiva and chesed based instituions. Without the family you are bowling alone not in a league.

      • David Ohsie says:

        Female doctors and lawyers don’t have families? They have more dysfunctional families? Don’t care about their children? What are you saying?

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Some female doctors and lawyers are married and have wonderful families but they all have decided to work on the mommy track and not sacrifice their families on the altar of their careers. I have seen many others where their careers take precedence to getting married let alone being parents. Denying that latchkey parenting has anything to do with dysfunctional families is unfortunately a means of avoiding the discussion of the human cost of feminism namely the rise of latckey children who dont see a lot of their parents and wind up engaging in antisocial behavior.

      • David Ohsie says:

        By all means, discuss. Please provide evidence showing that children of female physicians engage in anti-social behavior to a greater degree than other children.

        Also, you seem to be backtracking. Actually, it is good that women can be both physicians and parents. So then the feminist revolution enabling women becoming physicians has nothing to do with this.

        Finally, you still mention an unsupported asymmetry. Women with careers are sacrificing their families, while men are not.

    • Y. Ben-David says:

      The point is NOT that the small number of homosexuals want to destroy marriage, the point is that the media and outside secular culture now celebrates homosexuality and portrays them as BETTER people than the heteros. You see, i do not believe for one minute that people are genetically born that way. I say that even if a majority of scientists claim that is what they believe. I have degrees in Geophysics and I see how complex the earth and the planets are and how difficult it is to make comprehensive models to explain what we observe. Human biology and psychology are a hundred times more complex so to make a statement that it is “proven” to be genetic, and that “they can’t help it” is going way beyond the bounds of what science can prove. The Torah would not prohibit something that people would not have a choice in . Yoav Sorek wrote an outstanding piece in the Makor Rishon newspaper pointing out that young people can go either way at some point in their life and if the media and outside culture is showing something as beautiful and enticing, it can have a deleterious effect on them. No doubt it may be difficult for homosexuals to overcome their yetzer hara but there must be ways of doing it.
      Therefore, we must understand that it is the ideologues like Kate Millet, Angela Davis and Judith Butler who are preaching homosexuality as the way to carry out the cultural revolution they seek and the Torah community MUST make a strong stand opposing this, while at the same time, helping those who have problems in this area.

      • David Ohsie says:

        ‘ i do not believe for one minute that people are genetically born that way.’

        (Side point: congenital and genetic are not the same thing. Homosexuality is likely congenital, but may not be genetic in many/most cases).

        ‘I have degrees in Geophysics and I see how complex the earth and the planets are and how difficult it is to make comprehensive models to explain what we observe. Human biology and psychology are a hundred times more complex so to make a statement that it is “proven” to be [congenital] , and that “they can’t help it” is going way beyond the bounds of what science can prove.’

        I spot a contradiction here along with burden-shifting. If you correctly understand the complexity of human biology and all of the various semi-independent factors that go into forming the sex of a child, then you will have to admit that the existence congenital homosexuality is not very surprising. You also have very little basis on which to deny that such a phenomena may exist.

        As far as the evidence for it, the fact that children realize that they are different as soon as they start to develop sexual attraction is pretty powerful.

        It would be really nice if it were easy to align modern science in a straightforward manner with our traditional religious beliefs. I mean, if we dug down in the ground and found that the Earth really was 6000 years old, that would be wonderful, but you know that the science simply doesn’t come out that way. Nevertheless, we reconcile, the religion moves on and we persist in gaining value from it. Consider that there is probably a similar phenomenon going on here.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        If a chikd is home alone after school.because both parents are working a lon way from home with long hous that is when why and where children tbink that they are alone and free to whatever they want no matter what the human cost in terms of anti social and violent behavior.

  8. Y. Ben-David says:

    I have to thank you for posting this. It has been clear to me for years that the goal of the Left is to carry out a cultural revolution but I was only aware of more recent ideologues pushing this, such as Judith Butler and Angela Davis, but this piece shows the true ideological beginnings of the cultural revolution.
    Of course, the big question is how has it been that around half of the American people now accept this view of things and how the Democratic Party, once a sober, patriotic party has completely adopted the nihilistic Kate Millett-Howard Zinn worldview. But the problem goes well beyond this. A recent poll of Evangelical Christians shows a high percentage of young Evangelicals now accept homosexual “marriage’ and other aspects of the cultural revolution. What is most distressing is now that many Orthodox Jews, and I don’t mean only “Open Orthodox” have adopted these values. I have seen even learned Orthodox Jews now say “well, people want it so we have to accept it”, “who are we to judge other people”. “we are for maximum freedom of the individual”. all of these in the name of the Torah. I am flabbergasted by this.
    I think part of the problem, at least in the Orthodox world, is that the Torah has been taught for generations as being something disconnected from reality, the real world. For along time, scholars were teaching Torah ias something you study, not because it teaches us the truth about the world we live in, but instead, to believe the world is nothing more than an illusion and the “real world” is Olam HaBa and that is what you focus on, and that is supposedly achieved be spending endless hours inside the Talmud and other Torah sources without ever making any attempt to truly understand what it is telling us about the world around us. Some time ago, there was an article in the Makor Rishon newspaper about a group of Hasidei Satmar who have adopted Zionist ideology and who want to make aliyah but to remain withing the Satmar community. The founder of the group noted how one day he was studying Talmud in Masechet Ketubot where the borders of Eretz Israel. When it mentioned Akko and other places, he told his hevruta that he wanted to go get an atlas and look up where these places are located. His hevruta said he couldn’t understand why this fellow was wasting his time, what did he care where Akko is? You get Olam HaBa by reading the words and that is it.
    I believe it is this intellectual disconnect of too many Orthodox Jews from the real message of the Torah that has left them prey to the destructive Kate Millett-ideology.

  9. Steve Brizel says:

    The myth that “father knew best” is just that a myth. Feminists deserve their share of criticism for destroying the conventional marriage not discrimination against women who wanted careers which has resulted in the simple fact that you cant always get what you want in terms of being a mother spouse and person whose career is first. Being a latchkey parent is probably ss problematic as being a helicopter parent.

    • Sure they deserve criticism for destroying the traditional family. But I think it behooves us to recognize that there were valid grievances *against* the traditional family which they came to address.
      I disagree with the quote in the post which asserts the goal of feminism was to destroy the American Family. The goal of feminism was to even out the imbalance of power within the traditional family that was in favor of the American Patriarch.

      Yes, the feminists literally threw out the baby with the bathwater and they are certainly to blame for that.
      But let us not forget that there was indeed some bathwater worth getting rid of, and the feminist movement was largely successful in getting rid of it in America.

      • Bob Miller says:

        Putting aside imbalances in Western society, are you OK with the differing normative gender roles built into Judaism itself from the start? Or the gender differences inherent in human biology?

  10. Shmuel says:


    The question is:
    Do we say יצא שכרם בהפסידם or is it: יצא הפסידם בשכרם?
    Granted there were serious inequities in Americana to be straightened out. But did you read Kate’s sister’s article? The link is there.

    It is maddening, and it is hard to argue against the core goal of Feminism as presented here, after you read the sister’s article. She sat in on the early meetings of her sister’s revolutionary zeal and describes the planned, step by step, manipulative corruption of young American girls (plenty of Jewish ones, as well) and the suffocating of American families, and plenty of Jewish ones as well. Read the entire article written by her gutsy sister.

    • David Ohsie says:

      We say that feminism as actually practiced has little to do with what some people supposedly plotted (which I’ll grant for the sake of argument even though the sister is pushing her own ideology). Again, women went from a tiny percentage to around 50% of medical and law graduates. This is feminism. Is that Marxism? Anti-marriage?

  11. DF says:

    Your article is a useful reminder of why Open Orthodoxy and other similar initiatives, who are rooted in or driven basically by feminism, must be firmly rejected, quite apart from the (legitimate) halachic problems: the concept has been a colossal disaster in secular America, it would be incredibly foolish to transplant that failure into orthodoxy.

    • David Ohsie says:

      Guess what; it’s already been transplanted. While there were some arguments among the religious about whether or not women should allowed to vote and hold office before Israel was established, but that bird has flown. Right-wing Baltimore has two female orthodox elected officeholders (both judges). Both MO and the Right wing support women in the workforce (perhaps for different reasons). These elements of feminism were not rejected because they are in fact huge successes. The supposed elements of feminism mentioned in the article, outside tolerance for homosexuals, have not been adopted by any large group of people, let alone OO.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Women working in the MO and Charedi worlds simply is far more an economic fact of life than out ot needs for self fulfillment.

  12. Steve Brizel says:

    Radical changes (such as rhe latest decision by the ultra secular and ultra left HCJ which is the equivalent of a Jim crow coury for tge secular Ashkenazic left against draft deferments ) alwYs generate stong reactions and resistance

  13. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    Individuals and their aspirations are important. Family and society are also important. They have to be harmonized together. A woman who decides her career as a doctor or nuclear physicist or whatever must be all-consuming and exclude raising children is within her rights, but she must realize she is making a choice and will have to live with it. A woman, unlike a man, doesn’t have an obligation to get married. Another and perhaps better alternative is the right chemistry between a man and a woman in which the man appreciates the woman doing something serious in the world and takes up the slack at home. Each couple has to find its own balance point which works for them. There is no point in blaming society or the Torah for forcing women and, for that matter, men, into a strait-jacket of a traditional role. It is possible to work together to make the whole greater than the parts while distributing the jobs in whatever way works for them.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Thats why most fathers of young children who either leaen full time or can work out of tbe house spend a lot of time with their children. It comes with the territory.

    • David Ohsie says:

      “A woman who decides her career as a doctor or nuclear physicist or whatever must be all-consuming and exclude raising children is within her rights, but she must realize she is making a choice and will have to live with it.”

      A man who decides his career as a doctor or nuclear physicist or whatever must be all-consuming and exclude raising children is within his rights, but he must realize he is making a choice and will have to live with it.

      Anyone man or woman that ignores their family for any reason is potentially costing their family members. I once met the son of a great Rabbi in Israel with outside obligations who told me that it was very difficult growing up without a father. This is orthogonal to the issue of whether we and the women are better off with all those women doctors. I don’t see anyone making a cogent argument against.

      I agree strongly with your points about individuals finding their own balance. Feminism of the sort that I mentioned actually increases the ability of people to do that.

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