Sarah Palin claims she is a “Conservative Feminist”
By Connie Honeycutt
Women used to run from it, deny it, fear its wrath, and yet recently Sarah Palin claimed it as her own. That’s right: She dropped the F-bomb. Palin called herself a “conservative feminist” in a May 14 speech for the Susan B. Anthony List, a political action committee for anti-abortion female congressional candidates.
Awesome. Now what?
Don’t get me wrong. Palin has every right to call herself a feminist. And if she has the guts to do so, then more power to her. But, what I want to make extremely clear is that Palin does not represent the entire feminist body. And I think that is something a lot of men and women who associate with feminist movements fear. They are skeptical of Palin because in a lot of ways, and for many years, she represents the enemy. And so, for her to align herself as part of the same group that has fought against her seems odd. Why do current feminists feel anger toward Palin’s coming out? And should she be allowed to claim the word as her own?
To begin, it is nearly impossible to define feminism. There have been many different feminist movements. There were at least three distinct waves of feminism, and in those
different times, we saw socialist feminism, liberal feminism, radical feminism and post-modern feminism. Apparently today we have discovered a “conservative feminism” courtesy of our dear friend, Sarah Palin.
When we take a
moment to look at Palin’s political agendas, it is clear that feminist ideas are not at the top of her list. Palin actively seeks to restrict women’s freedoms. Sure, one could praise Palin for being brave enough to drop the F-bomb, but her motives are what drive feminists crazy. This new conservative movement distracts from the existing movements. It distracts from what feminisms are really about. And this is what scares many feminists.
Palin is not a feminist simply because she is a woman of power. She is not a feminist because she believes in equality. She is not a feminist because she believes in pro-choice or fights against oppression. No, Sarah Palin calls herself a feminist because she is a public figure, and her image needs other women to like her. Reclaiming the word “feminist” empowers conservative women. It is a ploy like no other. Sure, liberal women are more likely to accept the label, but for a conservative woman to embrace the power of femininity is a new concept.
She claims to be a feminist because she believes in some sort of sisterhood of women, right? Well, let’s take a quick look at her true agenda:
She vetoed a bill denying benefits to gays, saying it was unconstitutional. She believes that it is ok to deny benefits to homosexual couples and denies spousal benefits for same-sex couples. She publicly stated that marriage should only be between a man and a woman, and she claims her top priorities include preserving definition of “marriage.” She opposes explicit sex-education programs. And, she is pro-life.
So, this is what feminism means to her?
Feminists desire equality for men and women. They fight the concept of a heteronormative world. They believe in encouraging women to express their sexuality: to reclaim their bodies, to love their bodies, to find their own passions, to love whom they want.
If Sarah wants to take on this word along with the burden that comes with it, then I’d love to sit down and chat. But until then, step off, Palin.
Connie Honeycutt is a junior TV-R major who is working on her own Bridge to Nowhere. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.