Know Your Enemy: Midge Decter, Anti-Feminist Cold Warrior

Know Your Enemy: Midge Decter, Anti-Feminist Cold Warrior

Matt and Sam join Moira Donegan and Adrian Daub to discuss the life and work of an anti-feminist, neoconservative icon.

Midge Decter (Cynthia Johnson/Getty Images, 1987)

Know Your Enemy is a podcast about the American right co-hosted by Matthew Sitman and Sam Adler-Bell. Read more about it here. You can subscribe to, rate, and review the show on Apple Podcasts and Stitcher, and receive bonus content by supporting the podcast on Patreon.

In this episode, Matt and Sam join Moira Donegan and Adrian Daub—co-hosts of the new podcast In Bed With The Right—for an in-depth look at the life, times, and work of the late Midge Decter, who died in 2022. Decter was inspired by a distinctly conservative, midcentury American reading of Freudian psychology, mobilized in defense of traditional family hierarchies, which made her an important link between neoconservatives and the religious right. Unsurprisingly, she helped found or served on the boards of numerous conservative organizations, including the Heritage Foundation, Committee for the Free World, and the Independent Womens Forum, among others. Her essays, books, and memoirs represent an anguished counter-revolt against the sexual liberation movements of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, and her trajectory from (ostensible) New Deal liberal to anti-feminist Cold Warrior proves a perfect subject for Know Your Enemy. Decter also was married to Norman Podhoretz (another subject of KYE lore) and the mother of John Podhoretz, current editor of Commentary magazine. A quarrelsome, Jewish conservative with a lively writing style and a fascinating, emblematic life story: what could be better?

Sources and further reading:

Midge Decter, An Old Wife’s Tale: My Seven Decades in Love and War (2002)

The New Chastity and Other Arguments Against Women’s Liberation (1972)

Always Right: Selected Writings of Midge Decter (2002)

Liberal Parents, Radical Children (1975)

Rumsfeld: A Personal Portrait (2003)

The Boys on the Beach, Commentary (1980)

Socialism & Its Irresponsibilities: The Case of Irving Howe, Commentary (1982)

Documentation: Sex Education on Trial—What They’re Teaching Our Children, Crisis Magazine (1998)

John Podhoretz, A Son’s Eulogy for Midge Decter (1927-2022), Commentary (2022)

R. R. Reno, My Memories of Midge Decter, First Things (2022)

Jeet Heer, Farewell to Midge Decter, the Bigot on the Beach, Nation (2022)

Ronnie Grinberg, An overlooked conservative writer helps explain Trump’s enduring appeal, Washington Post (2022)

Douglas Martin, Midge Decter, an Architect of Neoconservatism, Dies at 94, New York Times (2022)

Adrienne Rich, The Anti-Feminist Woman, New York Review of Books (1972)

…and don’t forget to subscribe to Know Your Enemy on Patreon for access to all of our bonus episodes!

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