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Sarah Palin has been talking a lot about feminism lately, which is ironic as she is about as far away from feminism as one can get. Why? Well, for one, she’s anti-Choice. I’ve heard it said that you really can’t consider yourself a feminist and be against abortion at the same time, and I’d agree with that. One can see abortion as an unfortunate occurrence, sure, but if one wants to deny a woman her basic right to choose, then one clearly doesn’t want women to be completely free. Instead, Palin and her ilk portray their anti-choice stance as being “feminist.” They argue that taking away a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body will merely make women stronger. It’s empowering for women to make the hard decision and become mothers (or give birth and hand the child over to someone else), so we might as well just take away their choice altogether. Faux-empowerment by force, one might call it.
Secondly, Palin seems to have an issue with the unequal wages of men and women in the workplace, and by “issue,” I mean that she doesn’t take what I consider to be the clear feminist standpoint on the topic. Instead, she supports a party and candidates (like John McCain) who flat-out oppose any legislation that would guarantee equal wages for women. They don’t want to force businesses to pay extra if they don’t have to (always for the big businesses, those guys are). Their opinions are nothing short of antique. As Jessica Valenti writes in her recent column in the Washington Post, “The fake feminism of Sarah Palin,” “When members of the conservative Independent Women’s Forum argue against efforts to address pay inequity, they say the salary gap is a result of women’s informed choices — motherhood, for example — and that claims of discrimination turn women into victims.” If all claims of discrimination turned women into victims, then we wouldn’t be wearing pants, voting, attending college, or working outside of the home. “Oh, don’t campaign for the right to vote. That just makes you look like a victim. You’ll look weak.” What a ridiculous notion. Another ridiculous notion is that all women make informed choices such as motherhood (and, remember, if Palin had her way, motherhood wouldn’t be much of a choice). Not all women choose that path, and if they do, who says that they should always be the one taking off time to raise a kid, and putting their careers on hold? Men do that sometimes – in Britain, they recently fought to earn paternity leave from work – and this idea refuses to reflect that. Clearly some time would have to be taken off to actually have the child, but no more than would be needed for major surgery, a situation that a person of either sex could find themselves in.
Despite a recent poll revealing that 70% of Americans think Sarah Palin is unqualified to be President (and that includes a majority of Republicans), it seems more and more likely that she will be running for the position in 2012. Whether or not she gets the nomination remains to be seen, of course, but to me the mere possibility of such a thing happening is beyond terrifying.
It’s not that I loathe the woman, although I wouldn’t say I’m her biggest fan (far from it, in fact). I have some shred of admiration for any woman in politics, and I even admitted to a friend recently (he’s probably her biggest fan) that I respected her a bit for calling out Rush Limbaugh for using the word “retard.” Granted, she still lets her political allegiances shine through. She called out Rahm Emanuel for the same thing recently (and rightfully so; it can be a nasty, offensive word), but in that particular case, she went so far as to call for his resignation. No such demand was made of Rush Limbaugh, even though his audience was much larger than Mr. Emanuel’s. But still, at least she has one issue she’s willing to play turncoat for. I also think that she’s been correct in some of her cries of “sexism.” I’ve seen people fall into the trap of misogyny when criticizing her, much like they did with Hillary Clinton. Even her supposed compatriot Glenn Beck has made sexist comments about her.
Of course, I also think Palin has a tendency to “cry sexism” at every little bit of criticism lodged at her. Problem is, I’m not entirely sure that she herself is actually that aware of sexism and what it means and how to identify it. It’s just that the probability is good that she’d hit the misogyny nail on the head at least a few times, and she has. But I’m certainly not ready to call her a “champion of women’s rights” just yet (and probably not ever). I don’t think that could be said of a woman who once said, “I felt like, wow, John McCain is a maverick. He’s all about empowering women. He is all about equality.” Yeah, Sarah, because saying that women don’t deserve equal pay, as McCain does, is really empowering.
All those things -whether good or bad – aside, my real issue with Sarah Palin is that she has become the figurehead of this recent (although that adjective is debatable) movement of “Real Americans” and “anti-intellectualism.” Read the rest of this entry »