Sue Ellen Browder – 2018 Summit speaker
FORMER FEMINIST COSMOPOLITAN WRITER FOUND SOLACE IN CATHOLICISM
Sue Ellen Browder recalls a recent conversation where she mentioned the sexual revolution of the 1960s to a woman in her 20s. Browder said the bright-eyed young woman had no idea what she was talking about.
“I realized at 71 that I’d become a walking history book, just by staying alive,” Browder joked in a recent interview with Legatus magazine.
Browder, a Catholic journalist who was once a young feminist writer for Cosmopolitan magazine, will speak at the 2018 Legatus Summit on how the pro-abortion agenda became intertwined with the women’s rights movement of the mid-20th century. The story of how that happened is told in a book Browder recently wrote entitled Subverted: How I Helped the Sexual Revolution Hijack the Women’s Movement (Ignatius Press, 2015).
The book also details how Browder found peace and forgiveness in the one place she never expected: the Catholic Church.
Why did you write this book?
I was at my little desk at Cosmopolitan magazine in 1971, and it was very obvious to me at the time that the women’s movement, which was fighting for women’s freedom in academia and the workforce, was quite different from the sexual revolution, which was fighting for sexual freedoms. How did we get to the point where those two movements, which were radically opposed to each other, became so joined together, that so many young women today think that what it means to be free is to go to college, get a great degree, have a fantastic job and be as sexually free as possible? That was the question in my mind once I became Catholic at 57 that I wanted to answer. This book is the outgrowth of that question.
How did you evolve from being a writer at Cosmopolitan magazine to a practicing Catholic journalist?
It really took a lifetime. We’re talking about a time from when I was 24 to the time when I was 57. We’re talking a long journey before I saw the light. And it wasn’t until after I became Catholic that I began looking back at what we had done at Cosmo. A lot of the stories we told about women in that magazine, those women did not really exist. It was only after I became Catholic, looking back at the culture and seeing what damage the sexual revolution had done to it, that I realized I needed to come clean with all of this.
What made you want to become a Catholic?
My late husband of 40 years, Walter, had wanted to become Catholic, and you’ve got to remember, I was a feminist at that time and I said, “I’m not going to join that patriarchal church.” But one thing led to another. My husband kind of led me into it. When we talked to our first priest, he told us to get the Catechism. When I got that book, I read it for three days straight. I could not put it down. I said, “This is what I’ve been looking for all my life.” This was the truth. I’m so happy to be Catholic.
How did the women’s rights movement come to embrace abortion?
There was one night in Washington D.C., in November 1967 during the National Organization for Women’s second national conference, where 57 people voted to insert abortion into the women’s movement. A huge fight broke out that night. One-third of those ardent feminists walked out of that meeting and later resigned. It was a fight then, and it’s a fight we’re still fighting.
What kind of feedback have you gotten so far on your book?
We’re getting great reviews on Amazon. I think we’re seeing a very small but fervent Catholic audience reading it. I don’t think we’ve gotten it out into the mainstream, but everyone who reads it has been telling us that they love it. It’s been getting a lot of attention. I’m flying all over the country, giving talks on this.
What do you do in your free time?
My downtime is spent reading, writing and praying. I’m in northern California, in a little town. I live next door to a priest. I transcribe his homilies and I’m kind of like the church secretary. It’s a very prayerful place