Palin has been antagonizing women on the left of late by describing herself as a “feminist,” a word she uses to mean the righteous, Mama Bear anger that wells up when one of her children is attacked in the press or her values are brought into question.and also says:
In her speech to the SBA List last month, Palin derided the old feminism as a relic of “the faculty lounge at some East Coast women’s college, right?”—even as she wrapped the label around herself, channeling the pioneer wives who “made sacrifices to carve out a living and a family out of the wilderness.” Hers is a “mom of faith” movement, a “mom uprising.” It’s an emotional appeal, unfettered by loyalty to the broader policy agenda of traditional feminism. (Palin will praise suffragettes, abolitionists, and Margaret Thatcher, but not the early feminists who arguably paved the way for the 96 Republican women running for House seats in 2010.)And this leads me to ask: What is feminism?
I've been calling myself a feminist since the 80's, and I did my D.Min. dissertation on Feminism in the UU ministry (a whole other issue is the quote in the article from a Harvard professor that says, "You hate to say it, but mainstream feminism has had an antireligious bias for a really long time"). So I ought to be able to give you a working definition of feminism. I'll leave the deciding whether or not Sarah Palin is one to you.
So here goes:
What feminism is not:
- Sadly, it's not a mandated stance on other isms, like racism and heterosexism. It'd be nice if these things went together, but it's not mandatory. You can be a racist feminist and you can be a sexist anti-racist. Understanding the interlinking nature of oppressions is secondary.
- It is also not, in my opinion, a mandated stance on abortion. While for many it is required that you believe in a woman's right to control her body in order to be a feminist, I believe you can be a feminist and still believe that abortion is murder and that trumps a woman's right to choose. I don't believe this, but I think it's a legitimate stance within feminism.
- Feminism is not the same as just being a woman and interested in our own self-interests.
- Feminism is definitely believing that a woman can do any job, hold any office.
- Feminism is believing that women can also choose to stay home with families, and that women who choose this should have support. This includes societal support for motherhood.
- Feminism is believing that women should live lives free from rape, domestic violence, sexual assault, and sexual harassment. Feminism is against all violence against women.
- Feminism is believing that women should have the means to plan their pregnancies and to not have children if desired.
- Feminism is believing that women should not have to use their sexuality or their femininity for economic security or workplace advancement.
- Feminism is believing a woman's work should be equally valued with a man's work -- equal pay for equal work.
- Feminism is believing that it is not true that men's experiences are normative and women's experiences are other.
- Feminism is against all forms of discrimination against women.
- Feminism values women's experiences and artistic expressions.
- Lastly, feminism is a social movement that has the goal of bringing about change that creates situations for women that are equal to men's situations.