This is what a feminist looks like. Or is it?

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 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.”


  1. So true! I’ve had the “You’re a feminist?” question many times. And part of me is torn between Palin’s femaleness and my own feminist values.

  2. I can’t say that I’ve ever labeled myself as a feminist, but I’d say I agree with many feminist ideals, while being a girly girl too. But never ever would I consider Sarah Palin a feminist though..The media uses terms so loosely just because it sounds good. She’s a ‘strong’ woman with even ‘stronger’ convictions. Hooray! But in my opinion that doesn’t make her feminist does it?

  3. I feel like choosing Palin as the Republican candidate championing feminist values is an insult. There are other qualified, intelligent female Republican members of Congress, mayors, and governors. In addition to her list of questionable policy decisions regarding women, I don’t believe being a strong woman necessarily means being a pit bull with lipstick.

  4. oh dear. the pit bull with lipstick. give me an effin break. she’s a woman in politics. yes, she is in the minority, but i don’t think that that makes her a feminist. i think it takes a strong woman to be mayor, governor, vice president and president. but palin’s doggedness doesn’t make her a femi.

    i can’t identify with her or her family. i can’t understand how using her power as almost governor of alaska gives her the right to have someone fired. i can’t understand how she can’t support a woman’s right to choose or support funding for rape kits.

    moreover, this election isn’t about female empowerment. its a nice sidebar, of course.

    but shouldn’t we all be a smidge worried about her lack of background in the international political arena.

    most of all– that she won’t answer questions from reporters.

    i’m scared palin is just being polished into politics by a script.

  5. i agree with miss concrete jungle the media does use terms like “feminist” too loosely. i think any woman that steps into Palin or Hillary’s position will be called that even if they have no real feminist values. and we will probably never know her real values or beliefs because the campaign/media/society is too busy being sexist.

  6. As for her being a feminist, I’m not sure.

    First, I don’t think that her being ProLife means that she isn’t a feminist. I think it’s great for her and for her family. However, to tell people, I’d like for you to respect my daughter’s (an American female) privacy, but I have no intention of respecting another woman’s privacy, related to her pregnancy if I’m elected, is not equality.

    (2) Many women, hard-working and prideful Christian women, use resources such as Welfare and other social programs to get the “better training and education” McCain thinks women need to have in order to get equal pay. I think part of being a God-fearing Christian and a feminist is recognizing that fact, and I definitely don’t see that awareness in Sarah Palin.

    So, my answer summed up is: I think she could be a feminist. However, she’s a hypocritical one if so.

    Regarding sexism: Although I think it was sexist of people to ask how she was going to take care of 5 children and be an effective VP, I thought it was a valid question. First, no, we don’t ask the male candidates because we already know the answer. Second, she’s running on a Republican ticket – the group known for being the conservatives who think a woman’s place is at home. I think it’s valid that she would get the question coming from a party that pushes that type of guilt on the American public. Third, many people thought about it the minute she came out with her family story. I don’t think it makes it less sexist to think it but not ask it. No, I don’t think it has anything to do with her being qualified to be the VP. However, the females in the audience she’s trying to attract also have 5 month olds and can’t see going out of the country frequently without the child. If nothing else, all she had to do was answer them. I don’t see how her being a mother would impact her being able to reschedule a visit to N. Korea, but others might not look at it. Many people elevate the importance of the VP (when the President is still living). If they stopped to think about it, I don’t know when’s the last time we heard about Cheney – except for his last hospital visit.

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