“Benowitz shows how the conservative women of the 1950s helped to lay the foundation for the ‘New Right.’”—Mary C. Brennan, author of Pat Nixon: Embattled First Lady
In the mid-twentieth century, a grassroots movement of women—mostly white, middle-class, and conservative—sought to shape the political, cultural, and social ideologies of the baby boomer youth in what many perceived to be a quickly changing world poisoned by communism, big government, and intellectual and scientific elites. Foremothers of twenty-first century activists such as Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter, these rightist women deeply influenced the path of U.S. politics after World War II.
In Challenge and Change: Right-Wing Women, Grassroots Activism, and the Baby Boom Generation, June Benowitz draws on a wide variety of primary sources to highlight the connections between the women of the Old Right, the New Right, and today’s Tea Party. Through interviews, as well as through their letters to presidents, editors, and one another, Benowitz allows these women to speak for themselves. She examines the issues that stirred them to action—education, health, desegregation, moral corruption, war, patriotism, and the Equal Rights Amendment—and explores the growth of the right-wing women’s movement from the mid-twentieth into the twenty-first century.
June Melby Benowitz is associate professor of history at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee and the author of Days of Discontent: American Women and Right-Wing Politics, 1933–1945 and Encyclopedia of American Women and Religion.