The importance of conservative feminism
“[Sarah Palin's] clearly a total feminist, I mean in the true sense of feminism, she is her own person. She does her own thing. She does it her way.”–Newt Gingrich.
This comment was met by virtual uproar when posted on feminist blog Jezebel: “Has the definition of feminism been revised?;” “Sarah Palin is a feminist like a WWF performer is a real wrestler;” and “I think Newt is confusing ‘feminist’ with ‘self-involved asshole.’”
As much as I disagree with much of what Palin stands for, I can’t agree with these comments.
Being a feminist doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be a democrat, or you have to be pro-choice, or you have to wear a pantsuit. This goes back to my original post: feminism, and being a feminist, means what you want it to be. It also doesn’t mean that you have to be part of the feminist movement. Sarah Palin is, undoubtedly, a feminist as an individual. She is a strong, powerful woman who doesn’t take sh*t from anyone.
And even though she may not be my hero, or yours, she’s someone’s hero. Look at some of the messages she’s sending: you can be a mother and you can be a professional; you can be strong, powerful and beautiful; you can be whoever and whatever you want to be.
In a lot of ways, she’s the 21st century’s Phyllis Schlafly (but not nearly as radical).
Phyllis Schlafly is one of the strongest oppositions to feminism and the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). During the 60’s and 70’s she traveled the country speaking out against the perils of feminism and the threat it posed to our society; she continues a lot of this “anti-feminist” dialogue today. Funny, though, because when the majority of American women were confined to the home to care for the children and the family, Schlafly was making a career as a constitutional attorney, running (unsuccessfully) for congress and making a name for herself as a trail-blazing activist.
Even if you and I , and even she, don’t view her life story and work as being ‘feminist’ (in fact many would argue it was the exact opposite of that) her contribution to the feminist movement is substantial. So much of what she did in her own life contributed to the movement in a way that opened the door for women like Sarah Palin.
Whether it is through encouraging like-minded women to stand up for what they believe in, or motivating once-silent bystanders to speak out against their radical positions, Palin and Schlafly have made fighting for your beliefs, as a woman, popular for everyone — regardless of your ideology.
Feminism knows no gender, knows no ideology, and truly knows no boundaries.
Palin and Schlafly certainly represent a different flavor of feminism than what I represent, but they represent feminism none the less.
Posted in The F Word