The term feminism has been hijacked by the left and Sarah Palin wants to reclaim its historical roots, the forgotten history of pro-life women who fought for the 19th amendment. She is a feminist in the pro-life tradition. In a speech to the Susan B. Anthony List fundraiser last May, she identified herself as a western conservative and could identify with the “frontier feminists” who helped to shape the American West.
She is not talking about the feminism that my fellow contributor, David Shedlock, suggests in a post a couple of days ago. David writes:
Though some of this is bothersome (women can “do it all”, gender isn’t an issue), the thrust of feminism is not equal rights. It is the overthrow of God’s natural order. The reason the killing of unborn children and the promotion of contraception is so central to feminism is because it is a rejection of the differences between men and women. It is also why feminism promotes acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle, and rejects bans on women serving in combat.
Perhaps the word “feminism” is hopelessly broken and so thoroughly co-opted it just needs to be scrapped. Amy Siskind of The New Agenda suggests that feminism should be replaced by a “pro-women” movement that can be embraced by conservative men and liberal Democrat like herself:
The construct is divisive, proactively exclusionary and opening hostile towards women of different ideologies. Achieving gender equality is impossible in a framework where some of women are viewed as less equal.
Fortunately, there is another option. A new "pro-women" movement led, initially, by women on the right. The movement is inclusive, current, and refreshingly focused on supporting women. And why should we care whether it’s Republican or Democratic women (or both) who lead us to gender equality? After all, our historical women leadership is richly diverse in political beliefs and value systems.
David wants to link feminism historically (though he doesn’t come right out and say it) with just the likes of Margaret Sanger, Betty Friedan, and Gloria Stienem glossing over figures like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. They were notable women who not only pursued suffrage (which was an equal rights issue), but who were also pro-life.
David points out one interview with Katie Couric (one in which you get a snippet of an interview that lasted several hours). He then says she didn’t sign any prolife legislation as Governor. I shouldn’t need to remind David that Alaska’s Legislature had to send her a bill before she could sign it. She backed a parental notification law that stalled in committee, and then she backed that same measure as a ballot initiative which passed.
He brings up the Alaska Supreme Court nomination that was controversial which I handle in detail here, but let me say a couple of things about that. For starters she was only able to choose from the choices given to her by the Alaska Judicial Council – period. Secondly both choices she received were liberal and pro-choice so neither choice, in terms of life were ideal. I know some have suggested that she fall on the sword and resign in protest. She could have done that, but what would have been gained? Governor Parnell would have been faced with the same choice. She chose what she determined to be the best choice looking at all issues involved and what was currently before the court – namely natural resources issues. Regardless of what some pundits may say, governing is difficult.
Governor Palin has advocated for life in a variety of venues. In the 2006 Alaska Gubernatorial Debate against Democrat and former Governor Tony Knowles and Andrew Halcro she continually defended her prolife positions including speaking against embryonic stem cell research and is against abortion even in the case of rape and incest. It’s pretty well documented and then there is the example of her life. The simple fact is that many Downs Syndrome babies are aborted. She chose life. Some people want to minimize the circumstances surrounding that, and diminish the temptation that she has admittedly felt as a newly elected Governor in her early 40s when she found out about her son Trig.
Since it looks like she is seriously considering a presidential bid… we should ask her (and any candidate) tough questions, but let’s be fair when considering her public record and not link her to the pro-abortion crowd simply because she uses the term “feminist.”
Then there is the crux of David’s argument regarding her comments on election night:
There are still the Neanderthals out there, who pick on the petty little superficial meaningless things like looks, like whether you can or can’t work outside of the home if you have small children. All those type of things where I would so hope that at some point, uh, those Neanderthals, will evolve into something a bit more, um, with it, a bit more modern, and a bit more understanding that, yeah, woman can accomplish much…”
Then David wrote:
I am not suggesting that women cannot enter politics or that wives are to be subject to men other than their own husbands. What I object to is Palin’s willing to adopt the moniker “feminist” and suggest that men and women who believe mothers should stay home with their children are “Neanderthals” picking on “petty little superficial meaningless things”. She then says that we should “evolve”, “be with it”, “be a bit more modern”, and that “women can accomplish much”.
Who is she talking to? Who believes women can’t accomplish much? I take issue with the last phrase because she contrasted it with working in the home, raising small children. That is accomplishing much!
David is reading into her words. I find it ironic that he is criticizing a woman who was a stay-at-home mom for years for attacking stay-at-home moms. She wasn’t debasing the role that those women play, but rather addressing the criticism that females candidates will often receive – that she received in 2008.
I’m generally complementarian in my theology. I do believe in a husband-headship in the home. I also believe that some of us have misunderstand what that means. Guys often like to quote Ephesians 5:22 which reads, “Wives, submit to your husbands, as to the Lord.” Often forgotten is Ephesians 5:21 which says that we are to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Then guys are told later in v.25 that they are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. How did Christ love the Church, He died! So it is a sacrificial love that guys are to have for their wives. Putting her needs before his own, serving her, and leading her toward a deeper relationship with Christ.
It doesn’t mean the guy is a dictator. It doesn’t mean that a woman can never work outside of the home (though I think parents should try to avoid putting their kids in daycare). It doesn’t mean that a woman can’t exercise leadership in the civil arena. Some people do pigeonhole women’s sole purpose as just child rearing. When I read about the Proverbs 31 woman that isn’t the picture I see. I see a wise woman who is industrious both at home and in the community.
David rightly says, “I am not suggesting that women cannot enter politics or that wives are to be subject to men other than their own husbands.” That’s great, but criticism that some level toward women in politics is not based on complementarism, but chauvinism. That is who she is addressing.
Looking at the fruit of Sarah Palin’s life you can see that she honors and respects her husband. She doesn’t hate men as some feminists do. She relies upon her husband for wisdom and advice which is pretty well documented. So I don’t see the marks of the feminist that David is talking about.
I see something entirely different.