“I’m a feminist.” These are not my words. They are Sarah Palin’s. Now maybe 1) Governor Palin doesn’t understand what she is talking about, and that is bad. But there are three other possibilities that are worse: 2) She is pandering. 3) She is evolving. 4) She really is a feminist, which would be the worst of all possibilities. I’m leaning towards number two, which often leads to numbers three and four. Here is the quote which, taken by itself, might mean she only misunderstands feminism:
I’m a feminist who, uh, believes in equal rights and I believe that women certainly today have every opportunity that a man has to succeed, and to try to do it all, anyway. And I’m very, very thankful that I’ve been brought up in a family where gender hasn’t been an issue. You know, I’ve been expected to do everything growing up that the boys were doing. We were out chopping wood and you’re out hunting and fishing and filling our freezer with good wild Alaskan game to feed our family. So it kinda started with that.
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.
Palin implied on the night of the recent Republican 2010 mid-term election victories that the roots of her feminism go back to her college days. Speaking to feminist and the first former vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, she said:
“And Geraldine has also been grossly attacked back in ‘84, and I remember, um, as a young college student watching what it was that you were going through and knowing that a.) and more power to you for busting that glass ceiling you know and standing on the shoulders of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony, and others who had come before you, of course, so many years ago. And, then you busting through and then the opportunity that I and other woman following you have, have been able to seize. That’s just been wonderful. It’s been great for our nation, it’s been so good.
But, yeah, it kind of seems, Geraldine that some things haven’t changed.
This is painful for me. I like Sarah Palin. But as I research more and more the issues that mean the most to me, I find some of her positions and the articulation of them wanting. A tree is known not only by its fruits, but also by its roots. The roots of feminism go back to the garden of Eden. After the fall of man, God cursed Eve by saying in Genesis 3:16: “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire [shall be] to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”
Palin went on to say:
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…”
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!
Is there any merit to the possibility she really is a feminist with all that entails? First, let us look at “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
“Sarah Palin appeared on FOX News Sunday…and was asked if the military gay ban should be repealed.
Said Palin: I don’t think so right now (emphasis mine). I’m surprised that the President spent time on that in his State of the Union speech when he spent only about 9 percent of his time in the State of the Union on national security issues. And I say that because there are other things to be worried about right now with the military. I think that kind of on the back burner, is sufficient for now. To put so much time, and effort, and politics into it, unnecessary”.
From the day she accepted John McCain’s invitation to run with him she has used her politics to advance feminism, in general, and used feminist language on that first day. After lauding Democrats Ferraro and Hillary Clinton, she said “but it turns out the women of America aren’t finished yet, and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.”
Palin did not sign any pro-life bills into legislation while governor of Alaska though she supported a parental notification law which was stopped later by the courts. Otherwise, the most controversial issue was a judicial appointment which Shane Vander Hart addressed earlier. When pressed by Katie Couric on whether it’s okay to kill unborn babies if the mother was raped, she punted:
Couric: But ideally, you think it should be illegal for a girl who was raped or the victim of incest to get an abortion?
Palin: I’m saying that, personally, I would counsel the person to choose life, despite horrific, horrific circumstances that this person would find themselves in. And, um, if you’re asking, though, kind of foundationally here, should anyone end up in jail for having an … abortion, absolutely not. That’s nothing I would ever support.
Compare this with the answer Kim Reynolds, Lieutenant-Governor-Elect of Iowa gave in answer to a similar question: “If her stance on abortion prevails, and it is criminalized again, what should the penalty be for a physician who performs an abortion or a woman who has one?
Reynolds perhaps hedged a little, later in the interview, but never repudiated her position.
In the Couric interview Palin was also asked about the Morning-After Murder Pill. Notice how she refuses to answer outright and leaves room for people to take her both ways:
Couric: Some people have credited the morning-after pill for decreasing the number of abortions. How do you feel about the morning-after pill?
Palin: Well, I am all for contraception. And I am all for preventative measures that are legal and save, and should be taken, but Katie, again, I am one to believe that life starts at the moment of conception. And I would like to see …
Couric: And so you don’t believe in the morning-after pill?
Palin: … I would like to see fewer and fewer abortions in this world. And again, I haven’t spoken with anyone who disagrees with my position on that.
Couric: I’m sorry, I just want to ask you again. Do you not support or do you condone or condemn the morning-after pill.
Palin: Personally, and this isn’t McCain-Palin policy …
Couric: No, that’s OK, I’m just asking you.
Palin: But personally, I would not choose to participate in that kind of contraception.
UPDATED (1/18/11) When rereading this post, I just realized that Palin called the morning-after pill contraception. Pro-lifers accurately make the distinction between contraception and birth control. Birth control can take place any time up until birth. The Morning-After Pill is decidedly NOT contraception.
When asked about her former church’s position on whether homosexuals could be changed she fudged again:
But what you’re talking about, I think, value here, what my position is on homosexuality and you can pray it away, because I think that was the title that was listed on that bulletin. And you know, I don’t know what prayers are worthy of being prayed. I don’t know what’s prayers are going to be asked and answered. But as for homosexuality, I am not going to judge Americans and the decisions that they make in their adult personal relationships. I have one of my absolute best friends for the last 30 years happens to be gay, and I love her dearly. And she is not my “gay friend,” she is one of my best friends, who happens to have made a choice that isn’t a choice that I have made. But I am not going to judge people.
I’m not asking for perfection on her positions, only clarity. And hopefully some conservatives will dig a little deeper into her positions on these things related to feminism. Does she support women in combat, for instance? What is her position on equal pay for equal work legislation? What about civil unions? Would she sign a Constitutional Amendment banning all abortions? What about the adoption of children by homosexual parents? If she wants to be president, she needs to answer these questions in detail, just like all the other candidates, male and female.
 In one of my composition classes I offer the opportunity to discuss 15 different controversial topics. What is the one that sparks the most heated debate? The premise that men and women are different.
 The meaning here is that part of the curse would be a woman’s desire to rule over her husband, as can be seen by comparing the grammar God used in speaking to Cain in Genesis 4:7:
“If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee [shall be] his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.”
David is currently an adjunct instructor of Composition and Speech at Marshalltown Community College in Iowa. His wife and he have also owned a business selling antique and collectible postcards on eBay since 1999. David was an activist with Operation Rescue in the early 1990s. He is a member of Trinity Presbyterian Reformed Church in Johnston, Iowa.
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