Females All

Feminists, not so much.

Michelle Cottle does a wonderful round up of what a sad year 2008 has been for women. If Clinton’s candidacy highlighted the demarcation between Baby Boomers and Millenial feminists, the Palin pick has probed a distinction that is not so clear: is feminism all things to all women, or should feminism be only what it is to progressives?

Palin is a member of Feminists for Life. That would be life defined as anti-choice. She is also a working mother (see the NYT article that gives a wonderful, and a I think very heartfelt, description of Palin’s fifth pregnancy whilst governor) who is lucky enough to have a job that enables her to have “a travel crib in her Anchorage office and a baby swing in her Juneau one.” She is among the growing number of evangelicals who think it is perhaps God’s will to have good, Christian women working in government and in the PTA, rather than in the home taking care of their children. She does not believe in a woman’s right to choose, even in cases of rape or incest, and does not favor universal healthcare.

And so, her views seem to mark her as the anti-feminist, at odds with all of the things hard won through the years by those who favor equal pay for equal work, affordable healthcare and childcare for all, the right to a safe and legal abortion if necessary.

Perhaps there is room in feminism for this diverse group of women. For those who believe in some things, but not in others. But it makes me sad to think so.

I would like to think that balancing work and motherhood is a noble and difficult task. That to do so is to make sacrifices and prove your mettle (side note: one can be a father and prove all of this too, this particular facet is not unique to mothers, but certainly shows itself more frequently). That Sarah Palin and others are proving that women can be smart and hard working and mothers at the same time (I will not say Palin is a good mother, because I have no way of knowing that — that’s between Palin and her family).

But balancing work or motherhood should not make you a feminist, in the traditional sense, unless you are going to stand up for the things that feminists believe in. You can say you’re a Democrat, and caucus with them in the U.S. Senate, but you were elected as an Independent (because you didn’t win the Democratic Primary in Connecticut) and you vote with the Republicans on a host of issues, and spoke at their convention.

Sarah Palin can say she’s a feminist, and she can caucus with the working mothers, but she’s voting with the un-feminists.

If she’s not going to support women’s issues outside of the right to work while raising children, she is missing the fundamentals.


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