Mollie Hemingway graciously agreed to take a break in the midst of moving to talk to me about what it’s like as a writer being on live TV, the future of feminism, growing up as a pastor’s kid, and being married to a fellow writer (Mollie’s husband, Mark Hemingway, is a senior writer for The Weekly Standard).
F&J: In addition to your work at The Federalist, you frequently appear on live TV as a contributor to Fox News. I’m just curious, what is that like?
MH: I've been doing it now for several years, so now it's easy, and there's nothing to it. And most of what I do now is live and on set. I'm more of a writer, so doing this at first was very, very weird. And I still feel like a writer. When you're writing, you can be really subtle and nuanced, and you can be generous to a bunch of different sides. And on TV, you just have to get right to the point, and you have to pound it. And that is a little different than the way I would like to be, because with so much, whether it’s religion or philosophy or anything, it should be handled much gentler than that. So, I usually do my best and understand that you're reaching a lot of people, and you try and share a good word. And I do like when I get the opportunity to say something truly meaningful about protection of life or religious liberty, topics that need to be part of the conversation and that are not handled very well typically by most people in the media.
F&J: Some studies have shown that women aren’t as happy as they were previously, even though there’s more opportunity today. Why do you think that is?
MH: Yeah, I do find those studies interesting. There's that “Paradox of Declining Female Happiness” study that came out from two economists who said, "Hey, everything that you should want has been on the upswing,"—and they themselves are liberal. "You've got access to abortion, you've got increased enrollment at universities, access to all these jobs," and yet somehow, paradoxically, women are less happy than they were when this whole project started. But feminism sort of has built into it a system where people are conditioned to be disappointed, because your sex, contrary to what you may have heard, is something that is not changeable, and it is a gift from God. And whether you are given the gift of being male or given the gift of being female, that does influence how your life will be, and it's in good ways. Ideally, we would have a system set up to honor and respect these distinctions. Frequently, for feminism, it's just a constant battle. It's a battle against your biology. And that's just destined to make you disappointed, I think.
F&J: What would you say is the future of the feminist movement?
MH: Probably world domination. [laughter] Um, they seem to be winning. I personally think that what you're seeing right now with this triumph over your biology, this transgenderism, is a natural fulfillment of feminist goals. So clearly they're doing very well with getting into that, having everybody adopt this mindset that what you personally choose about everything, including reality itself, is what's important, and objective reality is not important. I don't see many people in this country having the tools to fight it.
F&J: But I think too, there's a growing idea of the conservative feminist.
MH: Well, I will say actually, pro-life feminism is the original feminism. I mean, when you think about the true beginnings of the movement, they were absolutely pro-life. It was a feminism that predated some of the progressive overtaking of these ideas, so I don't want to discredit that. And I know people who consider themselves pro-life feminists, even progressive feminists, who are pro-life. And I remember myself, I'm pretty sure when I was in college I called myself a feminist, but then when I thought more about it, I decided "No, I'm actually not." Now I'm proudly not a feminist. And when you tell people, they're like, "Oh, my gosh! You're weird! How could you not be a feminist? You have to say it!" And I respond, "No, I'm really just not."
I think our country is far too focused on what other people can do for us, and not how we can serve each other. We are embracing these ideologies that focus on the unhappiness that comes from demanding things of other people, as opposed to thinking through all the opportunities that we have to serve each other and be good caretakers of our families, our friendships, our neighborhoods, our communities, our country. We really need to get off that course in general.
F&J: Have there been hard choices and sacrifices that you've had to make along the way to get to where you are now?
MH: You know … part of my personality makes me bad at answering this question, because, I'm sure there have been. I'm sure – for instance, it seemed like quitting my newspaper job when my oldest was born was a sacrifice. It actually turned out great for all involved. But I don’t focus on that, I don't focus on how people have wronged me. I am sure I could keep a list of who hadn't published me or who didn't even notice that I was a good writer, who didn't give me opportunities that they gave men of less skill. But if you focus all your energy on what's going wrong, you're just missing out on opportunities. My current bosses saw in me great potential, and they wanted to invest in me, and it worked out great. So, why would I spend my days worries about all the people who didn't see it, you know?
F&J: Your mom was a teacher, and your dad was a Lutheran pastor. What was the atmosphere like growing up? And how has seeing your parents’ model influenced the way you and Mark approach parenting?
MH: Our lives were built around the church, and everything was focused on what God had to say about things. That was the measure that we judged things by. We talked around the dinner table and elsewhere constantly about what we believed and why we believed it and how it applied to our lives. They allowed us to question anything. They almost seemed to relish it, and just used it is as an opportunity to really dig down into what we believe. And they kind of guided us through the cultural environment. There were definitely things we weren't supposed to watch or listen to, but a lot of what we did was just done together as a family, and then we’d talk about whether what we were hearing or watching matched with what God would have us do.
Also, I should say, they loved and forgave each other all the time. That might be the best thing they did, because you, when you see forgiveness in action, you see the beauty of what God has given us in your day-to-day life, and that's just such a great model, since we all sin and are in need of forgiveness. To see them do that with each other was one of the best things they could have done for us.
So Mark and I have been blessed with two children, and we make church the thing around which our entire week is built. And we send our kids to a Lutheran school, where we can feel confident that what they're being taught is good, and we can just ask them about it and just reinforce the messages. And, yeah, I mean, the forgiveness thing. [laughs]
F&J: When you think about your kids and the world that they're going to grow up in, what keeps you up at night?
MH: Frankly, nothing. You think of the worst-case scenario: that we all die, my family and I are going to Heaven, so I'm not worried, and I don't see any benefit in worrying. Having said that, I'm raising my kids very similarly to how I was raised, and it's certainly more dramatic now than it was when I was raised … I just hope they find good spouses, and all that. Your normal parental worries, probably.
F&J: What is it like being married to a writer?
MH: I wouldn't normally recommend that people marry people who are in the same profession. But for us, it's no problem. We get along great; we have very different strengths. We used to always write about completely different things. The last couple of years have made everything weird, now we write about more similar things – but it's great. We help each other.
F&J: Are you currently working on any new projects, other than moving?
MH: Most of what I do is just respond to the daily news, so I am just in general working on the project of not losing my head in Washington, D.C., which seems to be a problem that many people on both Left and Right have had.