During the 2008 political campaign when Sarah Palin was thrown from her seat as governor of Alaska to become John McCain’s running mate, the word feminist came into the race as well when Palin started referring to herself as one. She once again called herself a feminist during a speech at the Susan B. Anthony List “Celebration of Life” breakfast where she thanked the women in attendance for leading the charge in pro-life abortion rights and being ‘pro-women.’
When I heard about this from listening to a ‘Talk of the Nation’ podcast, where they said that she should be able to identify herself as one, it again brought back all of the thoughts I had during the campaign. In the podcast Meghan Daum who wrote an article about the incident used what I would assume to be her own and not just Palin’s idea of what a feminist is thought to be,
Using grizzly bears as a metaphor, Palin seemed to imply that the tenets of feminism — or at least the word itself — need not apply solely to liberal, abortion-rights supporting (and, by implication, gun-eschewing, gay-marriage-advocating, reusable-eco-bag-toting, dangling-earring-wearing) women. Red-state PTA moms with a love of God and country can get in on the empowerment act too.
While yes I would say that reproductive rights by itself are a very important part of feminism it is not the sole mission of the feminist movement. Bell Hooks wrote about this idea of feminism in her book Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics,
Lifestyle feminism ushered in the notion that there could be as many versions of feminism as their were women. Suddenly the politics was slowly removed from feminism. And the assumption prevailed that no matter a woman’s politics be she conservative or liberal she too fit feminism into her existing lifestyle. Obviously this way of thinking has made feminism more acceptable because it underlying assumption is that women can be feminists without fundamentally challenging and changing themselves or the culture. For example lets take the issue of abortion. If feminism is a movement to end sexist oppression. And depriving females of reproductive rights is a form of sexist oppression. Then one cannot be anti-choice and be feminist. A woman can insist she would never choose to have an abortion while affirming her support of the right of women to choose and still be an advocate of feminist politics. She cannot be anti-abortion and an advocate of feminism. Concurrently there can be no such thing as “power feminism” if the vision of power evoked is power gained through the exploitation and oppression of others.
What alarms me most is that a women who herself says that she dislikes Sarah Palin’s politics is willing to continue on with the mainstream stereotype of what a feminist is, referring to feminists as ‘militant’ or the favored ‘bra-burners.’ Also adding that women who are feminists believe their gender is better. I again would say this does not make someone a feminist, to say your gender is superior than some else’s makes you just as appalling.
When is comes down to it, oppression effects everyone whether you are male, female, white, black, gay or straight but the amount it effects you is different. Females are quite capable of being sexist or oppressing other women, as Palin herself has when she made rape victims in Wasilla, Alaska pay for their own rape kits while she was Mayor. She also opposes birth control and is all for abstinence-only education, all of which can be shown to directly cause more unplanned pregnancies and yes men suffer from this as well but the physical and financial distress is put on the women, in cases where the father is not around or chooses not to be. She also has gone as far as trying to ban books while in office.
This is not a person who might have some small portions of her politics that does not line up with the women’s rights movement, but almost all of her ideologies go with the idea that women should not have the right to choose what they do with their bodies or even their lives.
She is indeed not a feminist.
Update, due to being called out and rightly so…on some things.
First and foremost, I would say that taking issue with someone’s politics has nothing to do with being a feminist. Just because she is female does not mean I am a bad feminist for not agreeing with everyone who has a vagina. Just as a guy having problems with her politics is not sexist. The link between my comments and being a feminist has nothing to do with one another.
As for your comments, I am aware that although she didn’t full out try to ban books she did inquire and try to fire the town librarian after she said she wouldn’t stand for removing books when Palin inquired about it. No certain books were not listed and nor did I ever say there were certain books she tried with. Read Here!
On the topic of sex education I will admit when the information I found was incorrect in some aspects. Does she support ‘comprehensive sex-ed’ that only talks about STD’s and some forms of contraception, yes, but she does not support what she calls ‘explicit sex-ed’ which would contain vital information for women who are consistently taught to deny their own sexuality while our own society tells men that they should embrace theirs. This is a hugely important part of what we should be teaching about human sexuality to children so they don’t become sexually active with blinders on.
She is for contraception but not emergency contraception like in cases where someone has been raped. There I said it and is that better? I think not.
Lastly I will completely admit that while I had my facts wrong on the issues with women being charged for rape kits as her own person agenda, it did happen while she was in office as Mayor. Yes more often than not they billed their insurance companies but many articles I pulled up still cited that woman were still paying for them. I would think as a ‘feminist’ she would have stopped this practice. If I was mayor I would of ran on it.