… in which yours truly gets Palined

So I googled myself today (yes, I ego-surf) and came across this piece on the Slate blog, The XX Factor, eviscerating a feature in More magazine (a glossy targeting 40+ women) in which three writers, including yours truly, comment on the Sarah Palin phenomenon.  Slate ladyblogger Susannah Breslin snarks that the magazine ran the feature “in a blatant, desperate, and misguided bid for page-views and newsstand sales.”  Which is pretty … misguided, because the Palin forum is not on the cover of the magazine and, as far as I can tell, not on its website either.

Breslin then comments:

Lisa Schiffren writes: “Knowing that conservative, evangelical Christian women want their daughters to see such a role model [as Palin] tells us that feminism, in its best sense, has won its central battle.” Eh? What? I can’t even figure out what that means.

Now, I’m not a huge Lisa Schiffren fan, but is it really that hard to figure out what she means?  (You know, like … even conservative, evangelical Christians now admire women who are strong leaders and achievers in the public sphere?)

And then there’s this:

Finally, we hear from Cathy Young. Young’s bite-sized take on America’s hate-hate relationship with Palin is that liberal women were wanting Hillary in the White House, Palin came along and messed that up, but everything worked out fine in the end because we have a new face of feminism, and that face is attached to Sarah Palin’s head. “If nothing else, she has given feminism a new face, with profound appeal to women of different ages and walks of life.” No regrets for those who got Palin tattoos, then.

I’m not quite sure why Breslin thinks my take on Palin is “bite-sized.”  It’s actually the longest of the three pieces.  But, beyond that, to say that her summary is a distortion of my article is an understatement.  Maybe she never got past the single line she quotes, which is in the first paragraph and which I’m sure she found appalling.  She never mentions the part where I say that I found Palin a disappointment because “her candidacy began to look more like the merit-free affirmative action that conservatives have always deplored” and because of “her lack of ideas and her divisiveness.”  Or the part where I talk about why I think the Palin phenomenon will have some positive effects on the right (exorcising the prejudice against working mothers) and on feminist discourse (opening up more debate on conservative/libertarian feminist ideas).   Or the part where I say that conservative feminism is still probably waiting for its true star.

In any case, see for yourselves.

I am by no means a Sarah Palin fan, but the demonization of Palin to the point where any positive word spoken about anything Palin-related is viewed as an automatic invitation to abuse is pretty ludicrous.  The election is over, but the Palin Derangement Syndrome lives.

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7 Comments

Filed under feminism, Sarah Palin

7 responses to “… in which yours truly gets Palined

  1. I’m curious. What conservative/libertarian feminist ideas, brought up by Palin, do you think need to be opened up to debate within mainstream feminist discourse?

    I don’t wish to sound close-minded, but I think ideological divisions happen for a reason, which is that people have values that they believe in. I don’t think that’s wrong.

    An example: Christina Hoff Sommers says (mainstream) feminism should be broaden so it includes women in the pro-life movement. But reproductive rights (including abortion) isn’t a optional belief to most feminists, and jettisoning core beliefs just so more people can be called “feminists” is sacrificing integrity for popularity.

    Or so it seems to me. I’m open to being told I’m wrong. :-)

  2. jerry

    For openers Barry, just the now implicit assumption by liberal feminists that feminism IS liberal by definition and that conservatives cannot be feminists, and that liberals must agree with feminism or cannot be actually liberal. That’s a rewriting of history and an ignoring of reality and mainly serves to let you ignore the many times when modern feminism is diametrically opposed to liberal values, and the many conservative feminist organizations you wish to ignore or dismiss as paid misdirection.

    As evidence of that relationship, recently, my favorite radio interviewer, Terri Gross,
    interviewed Ronnee Schreiber, who describes herself as a liberal and feminist, about her book, “Righting Feminism, Conservative Women and American Politics.” And they talked about conservative feminists and politics. Never once did Terri Gross, one of my favorite interviewers, consider interviewing a person who considers herself/himself to be a conservative feminist. Not that day, not in other days. So the view they gave the listeners, that Gross apparently believes herself was that of the armchair anthropologist: a liberal feminist professor who claims to have studied conservative feminism but who doesn’t let herself or her views be tested by actual conservative feminists.

    In the meantime, I occasionally catalog how modern feminism runs counter to liberal values.

    * Keep the government off my body has morphed into: mandate the injection of prepubescent girls with a vaccine whose primary doctor in charge of testing (a woman) says is inappropriate and not well tested for that age group.

    * No collective punishment has morphed into: collective punishment against men (custody bias in courts, claims that false accusations are ignorable, temporary restraining orders are just fine because it’s better to err on the side of caution, …) is not just okay, it is mandated.

    There are many other ways in which modern feminism is misaligned with liberalism. Oddly, it takes the equity feminists to point this out. In part to masquerade that, we have the now common, arrogant assumption that feminism IS liberalism and the shunning of anyone who suggests otherwise.

    I learned to fly from a woman who flew P-51s during WWII, ferrying them cross country from where they were manufactured to where they were flown overseas. She participated in the 32 Olympics. She won the powder puff derby. She started and headed up for decades an aeronautics program at a University. She taught several astronauts how to fly. She taught some of our first women commercial airline pilots how to fly.

    And she voted and actively campaigned for Ronald Reagan.

    Who is more the feminist, her, Sarah Palin (governor), or Amanda Marcotte (professional victim)?

  3. Yamantaka

    jerry: Hey, you can’t make general, broad, sweeping statements about feminism! Not unless you’re going to /praise/ it with general, broad, sweeping statements.

    So if you’re going to praise feminism, go ahead and generalize all you want. But if you want to generalize about feminism for any other reason, now you’re treating feminism like a monolith. And it isn’t a monolith. Not unless you’re praising it, then it’s a monolith.

    So you must specify WHICH feminism you’re criticizing. But praise it? That’s different. Do try to keep that in mind.

  4. jerry

    Yamantaka, I am not sure what you’re getting at. If you want to clarify, please do.

    I tried to add modifiers like “modern feminism” and “equity feminism” to distinguish between some of the different types.

    By “modern feminism” I refer to the feminist soup I currently encounter at so many blogs, including Barry Deutsch’s, and in various op-eds….

    One of the problems of modern feminism, is there seems to be no underlying fundamental principles which an insider or outsider can use to determine if activity X is feminist or anti-feminist. And we see that with modern feminist arguments about pornography, pro-sex positions, the war on blow-jobs and kitchen quickies if you’re married, shaving, staying at home, and all sorts of stuff. As the Onion says, Woman now empowered by everything a woman does..

    If you want to clarify your position, please do, because I have no idea what you are saying.

  5. Yamantaka

    jerry: It was a tongue-in-cheek example of the kind of intellectual dishonesty which permeates many feminist circles. Namely: fending-off criticism by saying one can’t make general statements about feminism (it’s not a monolith!) but this same objection is never raised when one makes general statements which attribute GOOD things to feminism.

    So in response to criticism, “feminism isn’t a monolith.” But in response to praise, treating it as a monolith is fine. I thought you’d find it humorous.

  6. jerry

    I’d like to say too many martinis at lunch. More like too many hot dogs. But it’s much clearer now, and I agree with you entirely. I see that all the time, it’s a very nice defense for so many modern feminists.

  7. Revenant

    The phrase “America’s hate-hate relationship with Palin” reveals a lot about the social universe Breslin lives and works in.

    Palin came in second, after Hillary, on Gallup’s “most admired women of 2008″ poll. On election day her favorable/unfavorable numbers were even, which certainly doesn’t suggest she was a widely POPULAR person but just as certainly proves she wasn’t a figure of universal hatred. Even today, after months of nothing but bashing in the media, her favorable/unfavorable numbers are at 35/45. Nancy Pelosi’s favorability rating is also 35%, but if any feminist ever referred to America’s hate/hate relationship with HER I must have missed it.

    Are there a lot of people who think she’s an idiot? Sure, plenty. But she’s got a solid base of supporters even now, which is more than can be said about just about any other Republican in America.

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