What is feminism? We spend a lot of time it seems these days asking this question and it was, perhaps, easier to answer in the 1970s. Feminism was the movement to help an oppressed group rise to a position in society where we were equal. Not superior. Not better. Just equal.
It's simple. My mother's generation fought hard for the rights we sometimes take for granted -- the right to choose what to do with our own bodies, the right to work outside the home for equal pay, and the right to be autonomous if we choose. There were a lot of battles along the way and the fight is far from over.
A woman like Sarah Palin who is in between generations benefits from the hard work of the 1970s-era feminists without seeming to understand them. Last night, in an interview with Bill O'Reilly, she bashed feminists yet again.
On some points, she's right:
Among some old-school feminists, there does seem to be the general sense that there is a feminist barometer and certain beliefs will take the title away. Can you be against legalized abortion and still a feminist? Pro-pornography and still a feminist? According to some, no. You cannot.
But really, these are the kinds of questions we shouldn't necessarily have to ask in this day and age. Shouldn't a woman who rose to the top on her own merit and stays there on her own be considered a feminist? In the past, we have said that feminism means helping your fellow female and even by the definition, Palin fits (sort of). She helps other women, so long as they agree with her -- think Carly Fiorina and Nikki Haley. She even fits the Merriam-Webster's definition of feminism: "The theory of political, economic, and social equality of the sexes."
Doesn't a woman who is the economic breadwinner and huge success story demonstrate equality of the sexes?
Of course! No one would argue that Sarah Palin isn't strong. She is very strong. Fierce, in fact. "A pit bull in lipstick."
What she is not, however, is a friend to women. She talks a good game and she supports women who agree with her, but she says the traditional feminists -- the ones who paved the road she so obviously takes for granted -- have co-opted and ruined the term.
I believe it’s all about a person’s character and their work ethic and how they choose to take care of themselves and their families .... Too many feminists today have decided that women need someone to take care of them. That’s the most hypocritical (makes air quotes with her fingers) "feminist mantra" that there can be.
OK, fine. But how does she think she made it big? She made it because of those women before her who fought for equality and whom she is now dismissing as weak and hypocritical. I agree with her that "feminism" may need to be more inclusive, but so does Sarah Palin.
She can't use the power feminism gave her to climb to the top and then denigrate feminists as hypocrites while also claiming the label. It doesn't work that way. Which is it Sarah? Do you support women or do you hate them?
Do you think Sarah Palin is a feminist?
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