Supporters of Sarah Palin’s “feminism” getting desperate

Headshot of Sarah Palin

It’s been nearly a month since I wrote this
piece in The Washington Post
about Sarah Palin’s fake
feminism, and I’m still seeing responses to it – some awesome,
some…well, not. I’ve gotten emails calling me a jealous whore, seen
articles desperate to paint anti-choice policies as somehow pro-woman,
and read blog posts of conservatives furious that I would dare suggest
that not just anyone can call themselves a feminist. (Who cares if she
fights against other women’s rights?! She’s a woman and therefore must
be a feminist!)

As fun as it would be to take on all of these responses, it’s
Kathleen Parker’s most recent article – A
feminism that spans from Palin to Pelosi
– that I find the
most interesting, and the most telling.

Like most of the other pieces that criticized my WaPo
article, Parker focuses on my take-down of Palin’s anti-choice policies –
bemoaning the belief that “a pro-life woman can’t really be a
feminist.” I can’t say I’m surprised that so many chose to respond with
the abortion/feminism debate – it’s the most salacious, and certainly
the argument that will get the most attention. But it’s also pretty
goddamn lazy.

Because feminists aren’t criticizing Palin and her co-opting ilk
(organizations like IWF and writers like Christina Hoff Sommers) simply
because of their views on choice.  These faux feminists are
called out as such because they fight against women’s rights across the

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  • MLEmac28

    Whenever I hear people claim that Sarah Palin is a feminist, I always bring up how, when she was mayor of Wasilla, rape victims had to pay for their own rape kits. People want to believe that someone doesn’t have to be pro-choice to be a feminist, fine. But, it’s hard to argue for her feminism when she doesn’t even believe that rape victims should be able to file charges without spending money to collect evidence.

  • johanna in dairyland

    Parker even managed to get and anti-trans dig in there, too, even though it has absolutely nothing to do with her article! Nice, real nice … :-/

  • Bridgette

    There is something to couple with this, and that is the push regarding the criticism is also that Palin is, somehow, beautiful and all of us on the Left are jealous. I wrote my own piece about that not long ago. I am usually loathe to post links to my own site here, but wanted to share this one.
    As Jessica points out, a lot of this is about trying to turn feminism into nothing more than another patriarchal brand worshiping maledom. Thank you again.
    Bridgette P. LaVictoire

  • Comrade Kevin

    This is just how it goes. A concept or movement springs up and then people adulterate the original message by adding their own particular interpretation to it out of purely selfish motives.

  • khw

    Nice post.
    Congrats on the baby by the way!

  • SaynaTheSpiffy

    Ditto! Sorry for getting off-topic, but that’s great news and I’m happy for you.

  • Kessei

    They don’t fight against women’s rights across the board. They fight against very specific women’s rights.
    Arguably, though, so do most of the posters on Feministing. It’s simply a matter of WHICH women’s rights (and for which women) you’re talking about. Palin has a very different cultural background, one which in part is concerned about an undervaluing of what women “do” (pregnancy, childcare, teaching, health care, domestic work, spiritual seeking). Now, there can be disagreement on the fact that women are not innately “designed” to “do” these things. But I don’t see that as inherently worse than some of the women on this site who see nothing problematic about pornography, or who mock women who see their own virginity as sacrosanct or believe they will be spiritually harmed by having multiple partners, or who deride “breeders” who have “crotch droppings”.
    The definition of “feminist” that seems to have been crafted through all these blog posts isn’t all about women’s rights; to a large extent it’s about an affiliation with the political left in the United States, which is further reflected in how many people here identify feminism as purely about “equality” (as opposed to, specifically, women’s rights).
    And that’s because this website is, dur, a LIBERAL feminist website. Not just a “feminist” website, but a LIBERAL feminist one. As opposed to a RADICAL feminist website, or a MARXIST feminist website, or an ECO-FEMINIST website, or a DIANIC feminist website, and so forth.
    Similarly, women like Germaine Greer or Mary Daly were not liberal feminists (but that does not make them “not” feminists – they were of a different stripe). Somaly Mam may or may not consider herself to be a liberal feminist, but I think it’d be fair to say she is a feminist. Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Emma Willard, and Rebecca Jackson were definitely not liberal feminists, but I think it’s fair to say they were feminists.
    Sarah Palin is not a liberal feminist. DUH. I have no problem in saying she may be a conservative feminist.

  • Jacob

    You might want to double-check the actual definitions of the types of feminism that you name-dropped there – liberal feminists aren’t just feminists who are liberal; it has a specific meaning. Don’t want to be argumentative, but I am tempted to drop a certain Inigo Montoya quote…

  • Kessei

    Lolz, dude. Reading is fun.
    I never once said that “liberal feminists” are called that BECAUSE they are politically liberal.
    The word “liberal” in both contexts is used in an extremely similar fashion. The basis of liberal feminism is the promotion gender egalitarianism, personal liberty, and personal choice, without drastically altering the government or social fabric…very similar to political liberalism in the US.
    So it’s not really hard to see that liberal feminists might be more likely to make “an affiliation with the political left”, ie be politically liberal. And… therefore make the mistake of associating liberal politics with feminism as a whole, since that is the form of feminism which they practice.
    Make sense now?