It’s been nearly a month since I wrote this piece in The Washington Post about Sarah Palin’s fake feminism, and I’m still seeing responses to it – some awesome, some…well, not. I’ve gotten emails calling me a jealous whore, seen articles desperate to paint anti-choice policies as somehow pro-woman, and read blog posts of conservatives furious that I would dare suggest that not just anyone can call themselves a feminist. (Who cares if she fights against other women’s rights?! She’s a woman and therefore must be a feminist!)
As fun as it would be to take on all of these responses, it’s Kathleen Parker’s most recent article – A feminism that spans from Palin to Pelosi – that I find the most interesting, and the most telling.
Like most of the other pieces that criticized my WaPo article, Parker focuses on my take-down of Palin’s anti-choice policies – bemoaning the belief that “a pro-life woman can’t really be a feminist.” I can’t say I’m surprised that so many chose to respond with the abortion/feminism debate – it’s the most salacious, and certainly the argument that will get the most attention. But it’s also pretty goddamn lazy.
Because feminists aren’t criticizing Palin and her co-opting ilk (organizations like IWF and writers like Christina Hoff Sommers) simply because of their views on choice. These faux feminists are called out as such because they fight against women’s rights across the board.
These “feminists” would cut funding to the Violence Against Women Act and fight same-sex marriage rights. They shallowly laud working moms while supporting business’ right to discriminate on the basis of gender, opposing increased funding for SCHIP and supporting cuts to the Family and Medical Leave Act. They believe that the pay gap doesn’t exist. Hell, they believe sexism doesn’t exist!
You want to have a debate about whether or not one can be pro-life and feminist? Fine. But don’t tell me that someone who makes their career trying to roll back women’s rights is a feminist. It’s fucking insulting.
But perhaps the most telling part of Parker’s column is this one line: “The reason Palin so upsets the pro-choice brigade is because she seems so content with her lot and her brood.” Because if there’s anything feminists hate, it’s a happy woman with a family? This is a sentiment I’ve seen repeated often, and it’s great – because it’s the last resort of someone who has no cogent argument to make. Feminists couldn’t possibly be upset because Palin benefits from feminism while trying to undo all of its progress – no, no, we just hate families. (Methinks someone is starting to sweat!)
Putting aside for a moment the fact that this line of reasoning is completely desperate, I have to say that part of the reason Palin and other “feminists” scare me so much is because I’m a happy woman with a family of my own, including a baby on the way. I want my daughter to grow up in a country that sees her as a full human being and has laws and policies that reflect as much – not one where politicians take her rights away and call it feminism.
If the supporters of Palin’s so-called feminism had anything of substance to say, they would have said it. Instead, they rely on played out feminists-hate-the-family narratives and controversial talking points. So for now I’m just going to sit back, relax, and watch these “feminists” frantically try to justify themselves. Something tells me American women won’t buy it.