In the article about Sarah Palin targeting female Democratic candidates for defeat in the November elections, Palin describes herself as a feminist. I have mixed feelings about this, of course. On the one hand, it’s great to see a woman comfortable with the word feminist. On the other, it’s Sarah fucking Palin and I’ve long found her superficial embrace of “girl power” to be problematic. When all of your political stances are anti-woman (for example, her stance on abortion rights and birth control), I find it disingenuous to try and pick up the feminist mantle just because you’re a woman in the public eye.
Yes, she is supporting many conservative women running for Congress. The fact that there are a lot of women running this election season is awesome, I’m glad that more women are getting into politics. But the women Palin is supporting are not interested in working together with other women across the aisle. Whereas the women in the Senate and House today are known for consensus building and compromise, these women see it as “my way or the highway”. Which is a stance consistently taken by their conservative male counterparts and which does nothing for the country but hold up progress.
I want all women to feel like they’re part of the feminist movement. And I don’t think we should exclude women who may hold some different viewpoints than more liberal feminists. But I think there are some basic tenets of feminism that are held dear, and that you should support if you’re going to call yourself a feminist. I’m squeamish about this because I don’t like the idea of policing who can be a feminist, but in the case of female anti-choice activists, their disregard for women’s basic human right to agency over their own bodies leaves a bad taste in my mouth to say the least. And I don’t particularly want to share a movement with them. There’s a difference between being a strong woman and being a feminist. I think in the case of Sarah Palin and her squad of female Congressional candidates, they are strong women indeed, but their views place them in firm opposition to the feminist movement.
Feminism is for every woman, but I don’t think it’s a woman’s birthright to claim that label no matter how antithetical their beliefs are to the cause of women’s rights.