Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Feminist Supporting Liberal Politicians Does Not Mean Conspiracy

Sometimes people hear only what they want to hear, no matter how many facts and figures and testimonials you throw their way.

I have been having discussions with people who are absolutely convinced that Sarah Palin is the right choice for America, and if feminists can’t support her, it must be because feminism is part of the vast “liberal conspiracy” that is trying to take over the entire country.

In short, the accusation is this: Feminism isn’t really about equality of the sexes, it is about putting in place a liberal political agenda and trying to destroy America under the guise of something benevolent, like equality.

This topic has been one that I have been sitting on for a while now. I was thinking about the different ways this could be answered. As a feminist, I support liberal women candidates for office because they are more in line with my feminist values. That does not mean that I wish only to advance the rights of liberal women in this country. Not at all. I just feel that liberal women candidates (or male candidates) would be more likely to make things better for more women, instead of just a select few that agree with them.

But feminism is not a single mindset. Nearly every person who identifies as a feminist wants to see women’s lives bettered by doing away with a lot of the systemic inequality under which women live. But, as Habladora said in a comment on this post on The Feminist Underground, women can have different ideas about what is best for women.

Some feminists might think that having a woman Vice-President is the best thing for women, because we’d have “one of our team” in the White House in the second highest position in our government. While I might agree with that idea, I will not agree that Sarah Palin fits that equation.

Sarah Palin is an anti-woman candidate, and as a feminist, I cannot support her. This is not a conspiracy. To me, it is nothing more than common sense. Sarah Palin is against abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. She did little while rates of sexual and domestic violence stayed high under her leadership in Alaska. She is on a ticket that opposes the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and has not come up with any solutions for implementing it. Again, I think that Palin is a clearly anti-woman candidate, and my support cannot be given to her.

Her narrow sense of morality would only translate into the suffering of many women. As a feminist, I seek to help change our society so that women of all political persuasions and religious affiliations can have the freedom to make informed choices about their lives and live without restrictions placed by politicians imposing their strictly faith-based policies on the country. Palin’s sense of morality may work for her, but I would resent her trying to push it on me, because I do not agree with it and would not be willing to give up autonomy over my life because of it.

So, of course I will not support Sarah Palin, even though she is a woman running for a spot in the White House. Although it might be easier for some of the men I know to call this a liberal conspiracy and not attempt view Palin’s policies through a feminist lens, that is just not accurate. At all.

Thanks to Frau Sally Benz at The Feminist Underground with some help with the links.


The Great American said...

I think you need to revise your view of Sarah Palin from "anti-woman" to "anti-feminists". While I'm not a woman, I know many, many women who share most of the same views she does. The Fair pay act is rejected by many because it is merely an attempt to insert gov't control within the private sector, much like affirmative action. One of example of feminism being a lapdog of the left is during the Clinton impeachment, feminist organizations such as NOW did jump to the defense of Paula Jones or Monica Lewinsky. Rather they jumped to the defense of President Clinton. Like I've said before, call feminism what it is, liberalism.

Amelia said...

Sarah Palin is anti-woman.

Or, Sarah Palin is pro-only-women-who-agree-with-her-ultra-conservative-religious-rhetoric.

The Great American said...

However, Feminists are the ones who REALLY represent women...rrrriiiiiggggghhhhht. Sarah Palin is anti-feminist/liberal bullcrap policies which support socialism and the murder of the unborn (or maybe even more specifically unborn women).

Habladora said...

Great post, and thanks for the shout-out.

The argument that the government shouldn't be involved in requiring that women be paid fairly seems pretty anti-woman to me, with states rights as an excuse. States rights are great, but they don't trump individual rights - not even those of women and minorities.

Kekla said...

Well, it's true that people define feminism different ways, but no matter how you define it, I think it is empirically anti-feminist to support any candidate solely on the basis of gender. At least one point of feminism is to be able to judge a person's skill set (in the case of fair pay) or beliefs (in the case of politicians) independently of her/his gender.

Feminists, liberal and otherwise, do celebrate Sarah Palin for accomplishing the things she has as a woman. Being governor is a big deal; being the VP nominee is a bigger one. You go, girl. I'm thrilled for her as person, but I am deeply convinced she's anti-woman and would be a danger to this country as a national leader. Appreciating her accomplishments doesn't require me to vote for her!

frau sally benz said...

Happy to help! Congrats on making the Carnival of Feminists!

I don't think anybody has ever called it a conspiracy when speaking to me, but I have gotten a lot of shock and surprise when people say "so, I guess you're going to vote for Sarah Palin now?" and I laugh in their faces.

Amelia said...

Oh, wow! I didn't know my writing was being featured. hee. Thanks for the heads up!

Renee said...

Palin is nothing more than a colluding tool. My problem with her is not her belief system, because we cannot always agree. My issue with Palin is her desire to impose her beliefs upon others. If she is against abortion then she should not have one, forcing other women to bear children they either don't want or cannot support is wrong.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the idea that feminists are just "handmaidens of the left" as someone put it on a NOW post about supporting or not supporting Palin, completely misses the point. I don't love the Democrats, they have a long way to go before they're really pro-women's rights in a comprehensive and real rather than occasionally politically expedient way. But given a choice between them and people who think women should keep playing the role that has been drawn for them, that has caused so much suffering and inequality, that makes them out to be less than human, well, it's not a very tough decision. If you want a feminist to vote Republican, make the Republican party feminist. Pretty simple.

Of course, some people define feminism differently, maybe even in a Republican friendly way. So they think the Republicans are feminist and they vote that way. That's no counterargument to what I said, it just shows that people vote for whoever represents their interests. Palin doesn't represent my interests.

I have to agree with "the great american" on Bill Clinton, though. I wasn't a feminist (to my knowledge?) or very informed back then, so I don't know exactly how feminists handled it, but I do think it's messed up to support Bill Clinton after he definitely took advantage of his power to get sex (although I don't think Lewinsky complained about that) and quite possibly sexually assaulted several women. There's a potential argument about whether it's more important to look at his political positions, which I think (remember, I was very uninformed at the time) helped women, or at his personal behavior, which I think did not. But regardless, if he sexually assaulted anyone, he should be in jail - except for the fact that I'm not a big fan of jail, so that gets more complicated, but still, there should be consequences.