Why Megan McCain is Wrong

I was browsing through a used bookstore the other day and I came across Andrea Dworkin’s “Right Wing Women .” I have read some radical feminist theory and while I have admiration for radicals of many stripes I’m too practical and optimistic to call myself one. I much prefer liberalism in most senses of the word. Still, I picked it up and thumbed through it, wondering what Dworkin had to say on the subject. Hell, there might be some useful commentary to understand a Sarah Palin run for the presidency 2012. It was pretty cheap so I bought it. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s at the top of my to be read pile.

The book came to mind again when on The Colbert Report  Megan McCain said of the Republican Party “It can be a party for a 24 year-old pro-sex woman .” When I heard her say that I thought it was her own wishful thinking, and I still do. I’ve heard it before from women who are Republicans. Christie Todd Whitman – who quit the Bush Administration over their gutting of air quality rules , authored a book called “It’s My Party Too ” expressing a similar sentiment as McCain. There are a number of women in the Republican party who seem to insist that pro science, pro woman people can fit under the “big tent.” Unfortunately for those women and the men who support them, the departure from the Republican party of folks like Arlen Specter, and (dubiously) Mike Bloomberg makes it harder for the public to believe.  

The Democrats aren’t perfect either, of course, just generally better on feminist issues. Which is why I felt sorry for McCain when she said what she did. It’s not impossible, of course for the Republicans to see the light, but there are no indications that they will anytime soon.

I grew up on Long Island, where Nina Petraro Bastardi is from. I lived in the Nassau county legislative district where she is currently running for office from the time I was 12 until I was 26. I went to high school with her husband. So I might be a little biased in favor of her but I want to share her campaign announcement video with the feministing community readers so they can decide for themselves the accuracy of what I’m going to say next.

Nina and her husband Chris were Republicans for a long time. They’ve recently changed parties , and while I can’t blame the Republicans for feeling sorry to see such a bright young power couple go, they lack the human decency to express that respectfully. I’m all about free speech. I’ve been a clinic escort at Planned Parenthood so I know the strength it takes to stand by silently and watch people promoting a cause you are deeply opposed to. So I wouldn’t be complaining if they had shown up with signs or were singing or heckling. It’s expected.  But this went beyond protest or outrage that she is a “traitor” to the Republicans. They were there to threaten, demean, and silence. And I think that a woman dare to defy them is a part of their anger. Sure they’d be mad if it was a man who switched parties. But the sexual nature of their insults at the rally (Did Tom [Suozzi] tell you to say that last night?) and on local political boards like The Schwartz Report couldn’t paint a clearer picture. She’s not just a threat to their party, but to the right wing’s anxious masculinity.

The women of the Republican party are barely taken seriously.  Megan McCain was called fat for disagreeing with Ann Coulter and a whore for being against abstinence only sex education. Despite perfectly fulfilling a saintly mother role, Sarah Palin was often referred to as a MILF by those who supported to her.

So, I welcome women into the Democratic party who are sick of the corruption of the Republicans and probably the misogyny too. I’ll admit I was shocked when I first heard Nina had switched. All I ever knew about her was that she was a rising star of the Republican Party. But I also knew she was smart and politically savvy. After I thought about it for a while I started to feel the way I did when the Yankees acquired Johnny Damon. I am a die-hard Yankee fan, and I couldn’t bear the thought that someone who had made my team suffer the worst defeat in the history of sports would soon be wearing pinstripes. But I was living in New England at the time and I saw how pissed the Red Sox fans were. I thought about all the amazing defensive plays he had made and home runs he had hit, and I was glad he was now a member of my favorite team. The more smart women we have on our side, who refuse to be intimidated – even when there’s a thug screaming in their faces, the stronger we will be.

So if you know any young idealistic republican women, heck, any republican women at all, send them this video. Ask them what they think. Nina isn’t going to be the only Republican woman who leaves and is forced to face the wrath of the machine. Women like her need our support, and the sooner and more enthusiastically we give it, the sooner we can get to work together.

You can visit Nina Petrato Bastardi’s campaign website at http://www.electnina.com/.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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