Oh this is fun – I was poking around with Google, searching for this and that, and turned up this 2010 post at Jezebel on “Sarah Palin Feminism.” Say what? Yes, apparently Sarah Palin was calling for a new, conservative feminism (starring Sarah Palin, presumably?), and Kate Harding came up with five ways to look at it.
All this would hardly merit more than a quick Inigo Montoya impression, if not for the fact that people won’t quit trying to make the idea of Sarah Palin Feminism happen. And if the fringe right has taught us anything over the last few years, it’s that the more the media takes your horseshit seriously, the more people start to forget that you’re completely disingenuous and/or out of your friggin’ mind.
So fine, let’s take an old, liberal feminist look at this concept before it gets too much more traction. Five looks, in fact.
A new, conservative feminism…what does that remind me of? Oh, I know – it reminds me of Sarah Palin’s funny way of being a brave hero by quitting her job as governor, and of serving the people of Alaska by quitting her job as governor. She’s a woman who like to square the circle. Conservative feminism is another one of those. Yes, sure, there are people who combine the two, but let’s face it – it’s a bad fit.
Look 1: You’ve got to be fucking kidding me
In a series that begins with “anti-choice feminism,” “Tea Party feminism,” and “Sarah Palin feminism,” what comes next? “Phyllis Schlafly feminism?” “Patriarchal feminism?” “He-Man Woman Hater Feminism?” I mean, how long until the Washington Post publishes a “feminist” argument for repealing the 19th Amendment (there’s no truly pro-woman party anyway, don’t you know?), or widening the pay gap (so more men can be sole breadwinners again and more women can freely choose to stay home) or, I don’t know, reclaiming the word “chattel”?
See why I say this is fun? It is. That’s funny stuff.
So, can’t I just agree to disagree with Sarah Palin – or at least to ignore her use of the term and continue to go about my business? Well, evidently not, or I wouldn’t be writing this. The problem is, words mean things. I could start calling myself a red meat conservative, or campaign for those of us who are against the death penalty to “reclaim” the term “pro-life,” but at some point, the relationship between your beliefs and your choice of words either passes the sniff test or it doesn’t. And someone who actively seeks to restrict women’s freedom calling herself a feminist is, not to put too fine a point on it, a liar. There’s a difference between a big tent and no boundaries whatsoever; if Palin’s “entitled to be accepted” as a feminist just because she says she’s one, then the word is completely meaningless — as opposed to merely vague and controversial. And I might just start calling myself a “right-winger” because I’m right-handed, or a “fundamentalist” because I believe everyone deserves a solid primary education, or a “birther” because I once hosted a baby shower.
That was 2010 though. Now this shiny new conservative feminism is all the rage, and we crazy old liberal feminists are twisted sisters.