Last week, I noted the hypocrisy of Jessica Valenti and the feminist Left in their outrage at Sarah Palin labeling herself a feminist. The hand-wringing of “progressive” feminists continued and grew to a fever pitch after Valenti wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post, arguing again that Sarah Palin is not a feminist. Most, like Carmen Siering at the Ms. Magazine blog, wholeheartedly agreed with Valenti and denounced Palin as a feminist. A few of the braver liberal feminists dared to disagree (and were swiftly criticized for it), like Meghan Daum in the L.A. Times.
What none of these feminists seem to be able to understand is that they need Sarah Palin playing for the feminist team if they want the movement to have a prayer of becoming relevant again.
The problem is that feminism has been hijacked by women bent on a radical, extremist agenda. It’s about advancing leftist causes now, not fighting for women’s equality. They say they fight for “women’s issues,” like universal health care, abortion (on-demand and taxpayer funded, of course), gay rights, amnesty for illegals, and other radical Left causes that pretty much have nothing to do with actual women’s rights. It’s condescending to women, when you really think about it, to tell women that they can only care about certain issues which must be decided for them rather than thinking for themselves. Modern feminists are telling us that these are the only issues women need be concerned with, and if you don’t agree with them on these specific issues, you’re anti-feminist and anti-woman. Slowly, this pushed women away and sent feminism further and further into the fringe until feminism became a dirty word. It’s not a coincidence that bloggers have been saying that Sarah Palin “dropped the f-bomb” as if it’s a swear word. For a lot of women, it is. And it’s the fault of the extremist feminists themselves. Just look at the things modern feminist leaders have said.
- A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle. (Gloria Steinem)
- The feminine mystique has succeeded in burying millions of American women alive. (Betty Friedan)
- We can’t destroy the inequities between men and women until we destroy marriage. (Robin Morgan)
- Rape is the primary heterosexual model for sexual relating. Rape is the primary emblem of romantic love. Rape is the means by which a woman is initiated into her womanhood as it is defined by men. (Andrea Dworkin)
- As long as some men use physical force to subjugate females, all men need not. The knowledge that some men do suffices to threaten all women. He can beat or kill the woman he claims to love; he can rape women … he can sexually molest his daughters … THE VAST MAJORITY OF MEN IN THE WORLD DO ONE OR MORE OF THE ABOVE. (Marilyn French)
- If life is to survive on this planet, there must be a decontamination of the Earth. I think this will be accompanied by an evolutionary process that will result in a drastic reduction of the population of males. (Mary Daly)
- Q: What if Mary had taken Plan B after the Lord filled her with his hot, white, sticky Holy Spirit? A: You’d have to justify your misogyny with another ancient mythology. (Amanda Marcotte)
This is sadly just a small sampling. And it doesn’t endear the average American woman to feminism. The average American woman does not hate men, she does not hate marriage, she does not think that all sex is rape, she does not walk around feeling like a consummate victim, she does not glorify abortion and she isn’t inherently liberal. But this is what modern feminism has become. It’s a movement that is filled with women who are extreme leftists, who have a deep-seated hatred for men, and who wallow in victimhood as if it’s some kind of prize to relish. The hijacking of feminism has caused it to be shallow and superficial. Women have been told that in order to be a proper feminist, they have to adhere to a certain set of radical beliefs, they must support abortion, and they must abandon traditional values that Americans have held for centuries.
And yet, they can’t understand why women want nothing to do with feminism anymore.
Sarah Palin represents American women much better than these modern feminists do. She has a certain set of conservative values and she is a feminist. She does not, however, say that you must agree with her in order to be a feminist. She does not demand you agree with her on every last issue in order to like her, either. She could be a huge asset to feminism if they’d get over their stubborn snobbery.
Women like Sarah Palin because they see themselves in her, even if they disagree politically. She’s a working mom with a loving husband and a great family. She got into politics by getting involved with the PTA, for crying out loud. She didn’t set out to make history or change the world. She’s got a common-sense, take-charge, no-nonsense attitude that women can relate to. She sees herself as a self-made woman, rather than constantly catarwauling about how she’s a victim. Women like her for all of these reasons. She’s an everywoman, and she is easier to relate to than extremist role models like Amanda Marcotte or Jessica Valenti.
Women don’t go about their daily lives bemoaning the lack of taxpayer-funded abortions on demand. They don’t see the patriarchy everywhere they look and they don’t feel victimized by everything they see and encounter. Many of them—myself included—don’t want universal health care or universal day care or a higher minimum wage. Many of them are more concerned about national security, securing the border, and the economy. Some women are even—gasp!!—pro-life.
The point is, there are no real “women’s issues” that women have to believe in to be feminists. It doesn’t make you anti-woman if you don’t adhere to the exact same principles that Jessica Valenti & Co. demand you adhere to. Women, believe it or not, have diverse ideals, thoughts, principles, and standards. They do not all care about exactly the same things, yet these extremist feminists on the Left expect women to pass some kind of litmus test. It’s ridiculous, considering feminism is about equality for women, period. It is not about requiring women to walk in lockstep toward a specific set of ideals. For some inexplicable reason, modern feminists demand that women toe a very specific line in order to be included in the club—fascist feminism is what it really is. It’s no wonder that women are turned off by it.
If these extremist feminists want to have the slightest prayer of regaining the relevance they’ve lost in mainstream America, then they need to embrace Sarah Palin and other women like her. Feminism started as equality for women, to give women the right to vote. It didn’t exist to tell women who to vote for or where to stand on the issues. Sarah Palin is not usurping feminism from the real feminists, she’s the real feminist reclaiming it for the modern American woman.
These leftist feminists have a golden opportunity here to turn a corner and start to make a real difference. They can embrace Sarah Palin and send the message that they’re abandoning the fascist feminism of the past forty years. Or they can continue to demonize someone simply because she doesn’t agree with them on certain political issues.
There is a choice to be made here. One can lead to a resurgence of feminism, and can begin the process of repairing the movement that has been hijacked, twisted, and manipulated by extremists hellbent on a leftist agenda. One choice could start to repair the tarnished reputation feminism has suffered over the past forty years.
The other choice will sound the death knell for feminism. It will only serve to further alienate American women and widen the rift even further. The damage done to feminism by these extremists if they refuse to accept women of all ideologies could very well be irreparable — but it’s probably what will happen regardless.