In the article about Sarah Palin targeting female Democratic candidates for defeat in the November elections, Palin describes herself as a feminist. I have mixed feelings about this, of course. On the one hand, it’s great to see a woman comfortable with the word feminist. On the other, it’s Sarah fucking Palin and I’ve long found her superficial embrace of “girl power” to be problematic. When all of your political stances are anti-woman (for example, her stance on abortion rights and birth control), I find it disingenuous to try and pick up the feminist mantle just because you’re a woman in the public eye.

Yes, she is supporting many conservative women running for Congress. The fact that there are a lot of women running this election season is awesome, I’m glad that more women are getting into politics. But the women Palin is supporting are not interested in working together with other women across the aisle. Whereas the women in the Senate and House today are known for consensus building and compromise, these women see it as “my way or the highway”. Which is a stance consistently taken by their conservative male counterparts and which does nothing for the country but hold up progress.

I want all women to feel like they’re part of the feminist movement. And I don’t think we should exclude women who may hold some different viewpoints than more liberal feminists. But I think there are some basic tenets of feminism that are held dear, and that you should support if you’re going to call yourself a feminist. I’m squeamish about this because I don’t like the idea of policing who can be a feminist, but in the case of female anti-choice activists, their disregard for women’s basic human right to agency over their own bodies leaves a bad taste in my mouth to say the least. And I don’t particularly want to share a movement with them. There’s a difference between being a strong woman and being a feminist. I think in the case of Sarah Palin and her squad of female Congressional candidates, they are strong women indeed, but their views place them in firm opposition to the feminist movement.

Feminism is for every woman, but I don’t think it’s a woman’s birthright to claim that label no matter how antithetical their beliefs are to the cause of women’s rights.

6 thoughts on “Feminism is for everybody, right?

  1. I think that in some cases a woman can be pro-life and still have a right to call herself a feminist. It depends a lot on how she acts in other areas, if she has worked a lot of equality in other areas, etc.

    Palin, however, has done absolutely nothing to indicate she's interested in uplifting any woman other any herself. Of all the conservative women that might deserve the title feminist, it's not her.

    • I think you can be pro-life FOR YOURSELF and be feminist, but I have to say, I don't consider it a feminist position that we should prevent women from making that choice for themselves.

      • I agree with yall both. A feminist would leave that choice up to a women and not regulate others behaviors, even if they decide that they would make a different decision. If SisterSong has both pro-life and pro-choice feminists/reproductive justice activists, then I guess both groups of womens can fall under the same umbrella.

  2. If your social and political beliefs are antithetical to the main tenets of feminism, then you have no right to call yourself a feminist. Feminism benefits everyone, but that doesn't mean anyone can throw the identity on and off like an old dress. You kind of have to, you know, believe in it. And if you're a public figure/official, you kind of have to, you know, demonstrate that you believe in it through your policies. Palin clearly doesn't believe in most of the central tenets of feminism and her policies are emphatically anti-feminist, so she fails on both counts.

    It infuriates me when clearly anti-feminist public figures call themselves feminists. It shows me that they either a) know nothing about feminism or b) have made it a point to exploit/distort it for their own political/social gain.

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