Sarah Palin is Not a Feminist, Revisited
I thought we covered this already; in fact, I know that many covered this during the 2008 presidential election, as well as after, but mostly during election time. But since this has come up yet again, I guess it’s time to give everyone a little refresher. So, for the record, Sarah Palin is not a feminist.
The first time I had ever even heard of Sarah Palin was when John McCain announced she would be running alongside him for the vice-presidential seat and within 11 minutes of hearing her name and doing some very mild research on her, I was seething from the amount of people saying she was a strong, positive, feminist role model. A woman who does not support pro-woman legislation does not a feminist make, folks. I wrote about Sarah Palin and how she has proven to not be worthy of the feminist label nearly two full years ago and at that time (and since) I have received nearly 100 comments, some from people who agreed with me and many others who did not and told me basically, that just because Sarah Palin is not “my kind of feminist,” doesn’t mean she cannot call herself one.
Sarah Palin and the word feminist seem to have a habit of coming up in the media quite a bit. It seems that whenever Sarah Palin emerges from her Alaskan bunker to face the world or to give a speech (that she is now charging upwards of $100,000 a pop for), the media is so eager to slap the title of feminist on her. Not so surprisingly, the only time that the media as a whole chooses to run a “feminism is positive” feel-good story, it is when they are attributing the title to someone grossly anti-woman who supports tragic, anti-woman policies.
During a speech earlier this month to the anti-choice Susan B. Anthony List, an extremely modest spin-off of the pro-abortion-rights group, Emily’s List, Palin brought up feminism, feminists and sisterhood. She told the more than 500 women in attendance that they are “responsible for an “emerging, conservative, feminist identity” and have the power to shape politics and elections around the issue.” To complete this point, she also told these women that they should only support candidates for public office who are uncompromisingly opposed to abortion.
Is this sentiment a nod to the fact that she will, indeed, be running for president in 2012? Oh I’m pretty sure that’s a yes.
Also appearing in her speech were a few words for us other feminists out here, you know, the feminists who work hard and wholeheartedly believe in passing legislation that supports women and gives women the power to make choices that affect their lives. After speaking about her decision to not abort her youngest child because she found out at 12-weeks of pregnancy that he would be born with Down Syndrome, she said that women are strong enough to handle having a family in addition to “pursuing career and education and avocations.” A sentiment that feminists do in fact believe in; we actually want legislation passed that would make it easier for women to realistically have everything they want and work for in life. But then she goes on to say, “Society wants to tell these young women otherwise. These feminist groups want to tell these women that, ‘No, you’re not capable of doing both.’ … It’s very hypocritical.”
Sarah Palin is not new to the buzz word-invoking tactics she uses in speeches and interviews. When she was interviewed by Katie Couric she said that she was a feminist, but later told NBC’s Brian Williams that she was not going to label herself anything. In the world of politics, that is called a definite flip flop and apparently Sarah Palin is now making herself comfortable by calling herself a feminist, but only when it suits her needs and viewpoint.
As Jessica Valenti put it in the Washington Post, “It’s not a realization of the importance of women’s rights that’s inspired the change. It’s strategy. Palin’s sisterly speechifying is part of a larger conservative move to woo women by appropriating feminist language. Just as consumer culture tries to sell “Girls Gone Wild”-style sexism as “empowerment,” conservatives are trying to sell anti-women policies shrouded in pro-women rhetoric.”
So I’m just going to come out and say it, and yes, I know some of you out there were waiting for it. I’m sorry, but you don’t just get to say you’re a feminist and automatically be one. It doesn’t work like that. It’s not allowed.
Meghan Daum wrote an entire article for the LA Times about how Sarah Palin has “made peace” with the “F-word” and how now that it’s a word that she can use to work for her to win more people over by spinning its connotations completely backward, we should be all be overjoyed with this. Daum’s own view of feminism, as she highlights in her article, is pretty much something anyone can relate to and attribute to themselves regardless of where they stand practically anywhere on the political scale. Can a man who hates gay people, goes to pro-life rallies and has everything Rush Limbaugh has ever said recorded for repeated listening be a feminist? In Daum’s world, absolutely!
I don’t necessarily believe that people must be able to go down a list of viewpoints and be able to check most, if not all of them off as something they agree with before being able to be called a feminist, I just think that people who openly call themselves feminists should probably have a good grasp over the women’s liberation movement and where feminism gained its roots. I want people who call themselves feminists to know what they are talking about and I want them to work hard to make sure legislation and policies on a country, state and a community level are passed that will help more women than hinder them. Feminists should want to make sure that children today are raised with the knowledge and with the confidence to know that they can do anything and nothing can stop them from fulfilling the dreams that they wish to some day accomplish. I want someone who calls themselves a feminist to believe that people deserve to live in a world without gender stereotypes or roles, without bigotry, without hate or discrimination, without sexism and misogyny and yes, I want them to believe that women deserve to make their own choices, not only when it comes to their bodies, but when it comes to every single aspect of their lives.
Kate Harding wrote over at Jezebel about the 5 Ways Of Looking At “Sarah Palin Feminism” that is both incredibly hilarious and informative.