Midge Decter

A founder of the neoconservative movement, Midge Decter delighted in challenging liberal views and acting as a thorn in the side of the feminist movement. Decter entered publishing in 1948 as a secretary to the editor of Commentary before becoming an editor at Midstream, Commentary, Harper’s, and Basic Books, where she remained until 1980. Decter’s notoriety came from her three books blasting feminists: The Liberated Woman and Other Americans in 1970, The New Chastity and Other Arguments against Women’s Liberation in 1972, and Liberal Parents, Radical Children in 1975. Here she argued that feminists were simply afraid of growing up, having children, and taking on real responsibility, and that liberal childrearing led to spoiled, narcissistic children. Many feminist critics pointed out her sweeping generalities and lack of data, but conservatives embraced her views and several liberal commentators found her work sobering. In 1981, Decter became the founding executive director of the Committee for the Free World, an organization that called attention to the threat they believed the Soviet Union posed to Israel and the US. In 2008 she received the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom.


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A member of the burgeoning neo-conservative movement in America, Midge Decter is one of several Jewish liberals of the 1950s who swung to the "right" in the 1970s, galvanized by their opposition to the increasingly anti-Israel views of the "left." Her work reflects the growing conservatism among Jewish-American intellectuals, and in the United States as a whole, in the late twentieth century.

Institution: Online repository.

Date of Birth

St. Paul, MN
United States

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Midge Decter." (Viewed on October 17, 2019) <https://jwa.org/people/decter-midge>.


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