So You Say You’re A Feminist…

by Bethanie Morrissey [teacher]

In the teacher’s lounge the other day (deep in the belly of the beast) a fellow teacher (wearing a Social Justice t-shirt, of course) turned to me and, knowing I was the only Republican at the table, asked me a question.

“As a woman, how can you vote for Sarah Palin? She’ll roll back feminism 20 years.”

Twenty? I thought. Let me get back to that. Here’s what I say to anyone who wants to mention Sarah Palin and feminism in the same breath:

So you say you’re a feminist. And you don’t like Palin. Whom do you like better? Michelle Obama? Hillary Clinton? Okay. Let’s compare Michelle, Hillary, and Sarah.

I know you can see already where I’m going with this.

Let’s look at Hillary. The smartest woman in the world, they used to call her. She rode her husband’s coattails into the White House, put up with his cheating ways, stood by her man, and in return, she got to be Senator for a while, and received his tepid and, frankly, unhelpful support in her unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The man humiliated her and defiled his wedding vows, and did so in front of the whole world, I might add. It’s no exaggeration to say he got more from her than she ever got from him.

I mean, unless she really enjoyed picking out the White House Christmas Tree every year.

Then there’s Michelle Obama. Her role thus far has consisted of informing us of what her husband will and will not let us do, (”Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.”)

Her other major contribution to history is to let us know that she was never proud of America until it embraced her husband.

Leaving out my knee-jerk reaction, which is the desire to tell ma belle Michelle that Barack can tell HER what he’ll allow (apparently) but he won’t be telling ME squat, I have to say, Michelle is no ringing bell for feminism. She’s even started wearing pearls, which is apparently the political wife’s sign of abject submission to her husband’s ambitions.

Look, don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate supportive wives. Laura Bush has been a pillar of support and womanly fortitude. Of course, she doesn’t do it while striding around pretending to be the next harbinger of feminism.

So let’s take Hillary-stand-by-your-cheating-man and Michelle-you-will-obey-my-husband and stack them next to Sarah Palin.

Sarah Palin has not said diddly-blip about her husband as far as I know. Last I heard, he was home taking care of five kids while she gets ready to run the country. Last I heard, he hasn’t cheated on her. Maybe because he’s a loving husband; maybe because she shoots things, I don’t know and I don’t care.

What I know is this: Hillary got squat for her years of support. Michelle has been shushed up and has scuttled off into oblivion like a good little wife.

Sarah Palin is out there preparing to be Vice President. Her husband is home preparing formula for the baby.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not gloating about Todd Palin’s fate. Hopefully, he’s proud of his wife, and happy to be an active father. I’m just saying, tell me again who’s a better poster child for feminism?

Oh, and back to “Palin will roll feminism back 20 years.” No, she won’t. She’ll roll it back 60 years. You see, once upon a time, long long ago, feminism was about more than just abortion. What WAS it about? Well, I’ll give you a hint: Ask Todd Palin. ExileStreet

First appeared at CaliforniaRepublic

Bethanie Morrissey is an English teacher in Los Angeles and a veteran of the US Navy. She loves writing, cats, and her Mac.

copyright 2008 Bethanie Morrissey

6 Responses to “So You Say You’re A Feminist…”

  1. SELINA Says:

    Say no to Sarah Palin… it isnt so much the inexperience that worries me, its her lack of knowledge, and frankly, she doesnt care that she doesnt know much. how can she, in her right mind, accepted the nomination knowing well that there are literelly millions of people more qualified than her in the US. Or worse, maybe she didnt even know her limitation.. wow, now thats scary!

  2. roxie lovell Says:

    Dear Bethanie,

    I can not imagine anything more destructive to a woman’s life than to force her to have a child she does not want, as Ms. Palin advocates.

    Forcing women to have children, often as the result of being raped, is the ultimate power play against them. They are forced to go through physical and social trauma of being pregnant for nine months and then either try to raise a child they probably are unable to care for or give away the child, a baby they have carried for nine months. It is so cruel. All these people that think taking the stigma of giving unwanted babies up for adoption is going to solve anything are foolish. It takes a special woman to be able to part with a baby without major emotional damage being done to her psyche. People should not be forcing this on others.

    Abortion is central to feminism. Next to actual slavery, enforced control of reproductive rights (to have as well as not to have children) is the strongest way society can maintain power over a group.

    Whether or not a man cheats on me seems rather petty compared to whether he can force me to have a child regardless of the consequences.

    You need to think about what feminism might mean, ways that women are and are not free. Just because we have had some progress, we can’t forget that times can change. Even when people trying to find common ground on the abortion issue will run into a wall. Last week’s debate Sen. Obama explained to Sen. McCain that the reason he did not vote for a ‘late term’ abortion bill in the Ill. senate was that the bill did not have a provision for allowing a procedure if the mother’s health or life was in danger. Then Sen. McCain made a joke out of worring about mother’s “health”. If Sen. McCain does not even respect the health of a woman, it is pretty hard to understand how he respects women at all.

    Palin may have her own freedoms, but being a feminist is about the freedoms all women should have. She does not support other womens’ freedoms. Calling her a feminist because of her lifestyle is like calling someone a liberal because he likes rock and roll music. You know plenty of conservatives that listen to rock and roll.

  3. Melinda Says:

    As a pro-choice feminist and once founding member of my university’s chapter of NOW, I’m stunned at the limited view of feminism so many so-called feminists have. A bit of history: If being pro-life makes you un-feminist and anti-woman, then Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were un-feminist and anti-woman. Although opposed to abortion, Palin and other “feminists for life” support contraception and giving women viable options other than abortion. I disagree with them, but I don’t think they can fairly be lumped in with the extremist crowd who really do think women should be barefoot, pregnant and tied to a stove.

  4. roxie lovell Says:

    Melinda,
    Are you sure the feminists for life supports contraception? I have heard differently. I agree that it is better if birth control is made available to women who do not want to become pregnant than that they have abortions. I also support sex education in high school for this reason too, so that teenagers will understand how not to get pregnant instead of having abortions.

    I still think that giving women options other than abortion does not give one the right to force her to have children. Organizations that want to force this on all women are simply not feminist in spirit–regardless of what they call themselves.

  5. Melinda Says:

    Feminists for Life support contraception. Gov. Palin is on record supporting contraception and having contraception taught in sex-ed classes. She also increased penalties on sex offenders and increased funding for domestic violence programs in Alaska. She is on record supporting equal pay for equal work, Title IX and the fight against sex trafficing around the world. Do I disagree with her on abortion? Absolutely. Will I fight against any attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade? Absolutely. But having known a few pro-life feminists on the left side of the political aisle, I cannot say that she is not a feminist.

    I’ll repeat myself a bit here: Can you honestly say that Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony weren’t feminists?

  6. Eric Says:

    I feel so silly… here I was thinking that feminism was a set of values and ideals and now I come to find out that it’s merely a list of one’s husband’s behavior.

    Let me make sure I’m getting this right… If your husband was the President, you forgave him for an affair, and you had a successful political career that included becoming the first first lady to serve in the US Senate, then you’re NOT a feminist. But if your husband is home with your children while you’re out pursuing your own political ambitions, you ARE a feminist.

    I think I got it.

    It’s funny that you included Michelle Obama in the comparison as if she’s running for something (?) but Cindy McCain’s name is conspicuously missing. Does that have something to with the fact that Cindy was a willing mistress for John until he could ditch his old wife? Or is it the fact that the woman has no accomplishments to speak of except for inheriting a lot of money and becoming a “philanthropist”. At least Michelle Obama doesn’t have a five-year vicodin addiction sitting in her closet.

    And your characterization of Laura Bush as a “pillar of support and womanly fortitude” is laughable when you dismiss Hillary Clinton as having “rode her husband’s coattails”. I like Laura Bush, but you’re being negligent, at best, to heap adulation on her for her accomplishments while characterizing Hillary as an unaccomplished doormat. Give me a break.

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