Feminism is a topic we’ll be discussing a lot here at Georgia Mae, largely because I believe there are too many people out there who have no idea what feminism really is. Oftentimes when I tell people I’m a feminist I get responses like, “You can’t be a feminist because you like men,” or “If you’re a feminist then why do you wear makeup and shave your legs.”
Sometimes, when this happens I just laugh. Other times I take the time to explain that for me feminism isn’t about hating men or mascara, but about empowering women and working to create a world where women (and men) are free to live the lives they want and can be safe from assault, abuse and rape.
The f-word has been getting plenty of attention lately thanks to Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain’s decision to select Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. Some political pundits are hailing the conservative mother of five as a symbol of a new wave of feminism. Political commentator and talk show host Laura Ingraham was quoted in the L.A. Times saying, “Sarah Palin represents a new feminism. . . and there is no bigger threat to the elites in this country than a woman who lives her conservative convictions.”
Town Hall columnist and law student Karin Agness argued that Palin is a liberated woman and she scolded feminist groups like the National Organization for Women (NOW) for not being more supportive of Palin.
But there are many feminists out there yelling a collective, “I call bullshit” and maintain that Palin is not a feminist at all. Rebecca Traister, for example, wrote in a column for Salon.com that “the pro-woman rhetoric surrounding Sarah Palin’s nomination is a grotesque bastardization of everything feminism has stood for…”
In the essay Traister writes, “In this strange new pro-woman tableau, feminism — a word that is being used all over the country with regard to Palin’s potential power — means voting for someone who would limit reproductive control, access to healthcare and funding for places like Covenant House Alaska, an organization that helps unwed teen mothers. It means cheering someone who allowed women to be charged for their rape kits while she was mayor of Wasilla…”
But what do you think? Do you consider Palin a feminist? Do you consider yourself one? How do you define feminism?
Whether you think Palin is a feminist or not and whether you’re a Democrat, Republican or neither, we should all call out the sexism that Palin has faced and probably will continue to endure during this presidential campaign. This is a point Kirsten Powers stressed in a recent article in Front Page Magazine. In the essay she quotes a statement made by the new women’s group WomenCount. The group says that it will “stand up for [Palin] against misogynist smears not because we like her or support her, but because that’s how feminism works.”