Feminist says coronavirus shows 'it's time to abolish the family'

Sophie Lewis, a scholar at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research and a frequent speaker at American universities, wrote an article suggesting that the coronavirus pandemic should push Americans to abolish the family. 

In an opinion editorial published by Open Democracy in late March, Lewis argues that “the private family qua mode of social reproduction still, frankly, sucks. It genders, nationalizes and races us. It norms us for productive work. It makes us believe we are ‘individuals’...” 

”We deserve better than the family. And the time of corona is an excellent time to practice abolishing it,” she adds. 

“As feminists for decades have excavated, the nuclear family functions as a kind of technology for producing and reproducing human beings along the lines of binary sex, national identity, racial loyalty, and heterosexual subjecthood,” Lewis told Campus Reform

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She goes on to say in the opinion piece that “social distancing” and “sheltering in place” orders are “an abuser’s dream,” pointing to the spike in domestic violence reports since the mass quarantine began. She suggested this is one more reason to “abolish” the family. 

”The pandemic is no time to forget about family abolition. In the words of feminist theorist and mother Madeline Lane-McKinley; ‘Households are capitalism’s pressure cookers. This crisis will see a surge in housework – cleaning, cooking, caretaking, but also child abuse, molestation, intimate partner rape, psychological torture, and more.’ Far from a time to acquiesce to ‘family values’ ideology, then, the pandemic is an acutely important time to provision, evacuate and generally empower survivors of – and refugees from – the nuclear household,” she adds.

Glenn Stanton, director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family, disagrees.

“Academic and government research over the last couple of decades consistently show that married women and children living with their married biological fathers are the least likely to suffer sexual, physical, or verbal abuse compared with other domestic configurations,” Stanton told Campus Reform

“The author talks about the unfortunate homeless. Ask most of these people if living in a home with a nuclear family was attractive to them. Few would take the author’s dim view of that opportunity,” Stanton added.

Lewis concludes the piece by writing, “we do not know yet if we will be able to wrench something better than capitalism from the wreckage of this Plague and the coming Depression. I would only posit with some certainty that, in 2020, the dialectic of families against the family, of real homes against the home, shall intensify.”

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However, Daniel Darling, vice president of communications for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, told Campus Reform that the opposite is true.  

”The coronavirus pandemic is actually reinforcing to us the vital importance of family as an essential ingredient for a society’s flourishing. We are sheltering in place with our loved ones so that the most vulnerable among us--the aging, the sick--can avoid catching COVID 19,” he said.

”Throughout human history, movements have sought to squash the nuclear family, but yet it endures because, as Christians, we believe it is a creational idea, something designed by a Creator for the flourishing of humankind. So as we stay inside and slow the spread of the virus, let’s double down on the relationships closest to us, that help us nurture and grow, not attack the nuclear family at a time when it is most important for social cohesion,” Darling added.

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