Custom Search

Friday, June 11, 2010

Feminism And Differing Definitions

Sarah Palin called herself a feminist. Pundits talk about the rise of feminism by looking at the strong women who have one recent political primaries. Yet the battle rages on between self identifying feminist and how they define the term.

For example, Taylor Marsh ties feminism with abortion claiming if one is not pro-choice, then one cannot be a feminist, period.

As for Tina Brown’s charge that the winners on Tuesday are a “blow to feminism,” well, you have to be a feminist before that could be true. Any woman not supporting women’s individual freedoms is not a feminist. I’ve been writing this long before other websites and newspapers started picking this theme up. Sarah Palin and her “mama grizzlies,” including the talented women who won Tuesday night are professional women with a lot to say, but they are not feminists.

The reality and point Ms. Brown doesn’t deal with is that their rise is because they unapologetically defend their views and never and I mean never sell them out. That’s why they’re rising.

Unlike many progressives, especially those in Congress today, the women who are supposed to stand up for women’s individual freedoms have instead, for instance, made it more difficult for women in the health care bill. Instead of a star female standing up for women during the health care debate, we had Speaker Pelosi making back room deals with the help of Catholic bishop representatives and Bart Stupak to sell us out. Remember the House “pro choice progressive caucus” and how they fell silent when Stupak was rising? That would never happen with Sarah Palin and the conservative women who won on Tuesday. Though I will say this latest news on behalf of military women is a sign that someone gets it.

So, though I appreciate Tina Brown’s stance, it only skims the problem that progressive women have today. The first being that the women on the right will not be silenced. While progressive women in Congress are willing to compromise on the most fundamental woman’s right, individual freedom.

In light of this, a discussion about who’s a feminist and who isn’t hardly matters, because the women who actually support women’s individual freedoms won’t stand up for them.

No progressive Congressman or woman is addressing the ultrasound bills popping up in the states across this country, which is a direct assault on women’s individual freedoms and privacy. Reproductive freedom is the basic tenet of feminism, so anyone demanding a woman get an ultrasound, because a state thinks she’s too stupid when she makes a private decision about her life, doesn’t get it. You can’t be a feminist, then demand to interject the state in a private decision of individual freedom. But nice try, Tina. At least you stood up.

The conservative women who won on Tuesday may be smart, capable, business women (though this has minuses to match pluses), politicians and legislators who know their stuff, but they are not feminists. They are new breed of conservative anti-feminists who are rising, because even though their message is against women’s individual freedoms, they are strong-willed women who know what they want and are articulating it, because strong and wrong always beats weak and right.

Meghan Daum, via LA Times, disagrees on the definition of feminsim.

"The mama grizzlies, they rise up," Palin said, adding that such women "can give their child life, in addition to pursuing career and education and avocations. Society wants to tell these young women otherwise. These feminist groups want to tell these women that, 'No, you're not capable of doing both.' "

Now, there are a lot of ways in which this logic is contorted, not least of all the suggestion that supporting the right to choose represents a no-confidence vote for the idea of mothers leading fulfilling professional and personal lives. But putting that aside, I feel a duty (a feminist duty, in fact) to say this about Palin's declaration: If she has the guts to call herself a feminist, then she's entitled to be accepted as one.

I say this as someone who's unabashedly called herself a feminist (in public and in print) ever since, years ago, I established my own definition of it. In a nutshell, it goes like this: View men and women as equals; see your gender as neither an obstacle to success nor an excuse for failure; laugh at yourself occasionally; get out of bed in the morning; don't forget to vote.

As you can see, this mission statement applies to men and women, liberals and conservatives, evangelicals and atheists, the freshly shaved and the hairy armpitted. I may have opinions about abortion and other social issues closely associated with women's rights, but I see them as a separate matter from the question of whether I call myself a feminist. Plenty of others will disagree on that.

One of those women seem to think that one issue can make or break the definition while the other believes issues are separate but the overall result defines a woman as a feminist or not.

Is abortion the be all end all of feminism?

Newsweek's Colleen Carroll Campbell delves into that particular explosive issue and whether or not a person can be a pro-life feminist.

The very notion of pro-life feminism is an affront to the vociferous leaders of America's abortion-rights lobby and the aging ranks of its feminist establishment - two groups that are, for all practical purposes, indistinguishable. The overlap between these two groups and their shared indignation at organizations like Feminists for Life and women like Sarah Palin is no accident. It is a consequence of their decades-long campaign to make feminism synonymous with a woman's right to abort her child and to marginalize any free-thinking feminist who dares to disagree.

We hear a lot about the absolutism of women like Palin, who opposes abortion even in the hard cases. Often overlooked is the absolutism of her critics - avowedly "pro-woman" abortion-rights advocates who cannot bring themselves to condemn even partial-birth or sex-selective abortion, the latter of which is an increasingly common practice in the U.S. and abroad in which unborn girls are targeted for elimination simply because they are girls.

For many American women, the feminism that once attracted them with its lofty goal of promoting respect for women's dignity has morphed into something antithetical to that dignity: a movement that equates a woman's liberation with her license to kill her unborn child, marginalizes people of faith if they support even modest restrictions on abortion, and colludes with a sexist culture eager to convince a woman in crisis that dealing with her unplanned pregnancy is her choice and, therefore, her problem.

Many women are not buying it. They are attracted instead to the message of groups like Feminists for Life, which tells women facing unplanned pregnancies that they should "refuse to choose" between having a future and having a baby. They believe that the best way for a woman to defend her own dignity is to defend the dignity of each and every human person, including the one that grows within her womb. And they reject the false dichotomy of abortion-centric feminism that says respect for human dignity is a zero-sum game in which a woman can win only if her unborn child loses.

Read on over there for the poll numbers showing the changing views on this issue.

It is interesting to watch self identifying feminists argue over whether other self identifying feminist should be allowed to self identify as feminists!!!!

In my mind, all people should be able to "choose" to back their own philosophy on any given subject and stand up and argue their stances loud and clear. Whether they are pro-choice or pro-life.

The history of feminism is long, at one point women did not have the right to even vote.

To claim that the people in what is being called the fourth wave of feminism are more deserving of the name feminist than the first wave, the second wave or third wave, is the height of arrogance.