Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sarah Palin as New Feminist

This is an interesting piece of analysis that helps clarify the many currents swirling around Sarah Palin. 

I am in the unusual position of been a foreign observer of the American political scene and am not having to actually vote for anyone.  I think that Sarah stands an excellent chance of making a clean run for the presidency and this helps explain why.  She really does stand for a brand of ‘girl power’ that eschews political correctness and any form of subservience to self appointed elites.

Is she flawed?  Has she said silly things?  Is she an old political hand?  These are all irrelevant because every prospective candidate has the same litany of unanswered questions.  The real test of a president is whether they can recruit sound advice and implement the necessary programs.  They must also not stand still.

By that measure Sarah is doing well.  She has made decisions I have questioned and has been proven right.  She is now learning the language of policy and polishing her skill and can only get better.  Recall George Bush’s infamous delivery.  This is very much her strong point. 

Her opponents attempt to portray her as almost uneducated.  The fact is that she did complete a degree in communication and journalism.  That gives her the exact same educational attainment as the majority of her media opponents.  Perhaps they are telling us something?  Perhaps we are dealing with outright self hatred in the press.

By any standard she was an average college student who hacked her way through and got the job done.  So were the last few occupants of the oval office, and in light of the absence of Obama’s transcripts, we can pretty well assume that his stunk up the place and most surely was not outstanding.  There are many reasons one advances in academic life and it is not always great talent.

In the meantime all the attacks on her have spent their effectiveness and we still have two years to go.  Her book deals are making her personal estate and family immune and she is nicely positioned to spend the next two years talking and selling policy and a book or two.  The remaining question is whether enough damage has been done to knock her out in the early primaries next year.

I am sure we will get to see.

Are Neanderthals to Blame for the Plight of Sarah Palin?
2010 NOVEMBER 21

So I’ve finally had a chance to get caught up with the latest posts at NewsReal, and my favorite is THIS ONE by David Swindle, in which he writes the following:

Arguing for multiple sides to be considered deeply is the foundation of theAcademic Freedom Campaign that Horowitz recounts in his new book Reforming Our Universities. Academic skepticism. Looking at multiple sides of issues. Taking the time to actually entertain and consider arguments that challenge and disturb you. Reading books by people who seem like they’re evil incarnate. These are core intellectual practices that I’ve infused deeply into my being.

I’m glad to hear David Swindle say this. And he’s right: it does take a conservative mind to be able to entertain different perspectives. So it will be interesting to see how conservatives respond to my new book about feminism, for in it I take a position that runs counter to what most young Americans on the Left and Right have been conditioned to believe their entire lives.

In my last post I wrote that Sarah Palin has aligned herself with feminists, and I stand by that claim. It does not mean that I hate her, or think ill of her, or have joined forces with those who can’t stand the mention of her name. In fact the most disparaging thing I said about Palin is that her comment was “foolish.” And it was.

It has been two years since Sarah Palin entered the political spotlight, and since that time the women of America have been debating the significance, or lack thereof, of the feminist movement. That’s because Palin represents something unique. Never before had Americans witnessed a conservative woman of Palin’s age — early to mid-forties — with five kids, one of whom had just been born and whose needs are greater than the average baby’s, run for the vice-presidency. It was unprecedented.

There have been several responses from the public. By far the biggest is that the media, quite simply, can’t stand her — and there is only one reason for this. Palin is conservative and the media is not. That Palin is beautiful and popular merely rubs salt in the wound.

The second response, this time from the women in the media, is the questioning of Palin’s ability or choice to have a baby and leave him in other people’s care while she travels the country and lives an adult life. This is entirely hypocritical on the part of the women in the media, for they are feminists who have lived the same kind of life and pride themselves on their ability to do so. Bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan is what they live for.

The third response is a legitimate one, and it comes from traditional-minded folks who know first-hand what’s involved in caring for babies and small children. As Paul T. Riel, Ph.D. wrote in “Why We Can’t Back Off on the Mommy Wars,”

How mothers and fathers care for their children has very real consequences for the physical and emotional health of the next generation, and for the size and scope of government. Politicians who would have us view this issue as merely one of personal choice, having no consequences beyond the immediate family, do a real disservice to the conservative cause.

Many conservative women are understandably territorial about the sacrifices they’ve made to raise families. Why should they put their children’s needs first, for their children’s benefit and the benefit of society, while other women skip out on the job altogether? Let’s face it: It is odd to see a conservative woman espousing family values and touting the merits of her choice to give her baby life — yet at the same time be willing to sacrifice being there for her child.

Still, these are not the folks who have been lambasting Palin. It may make them uncomfortable or raise their eyebrows a bit, but like good conservatives they respect Palin’s choice to live her own life — even if they don’t agree with it.

The folks who have made life unbearable for Palin are feminists, not “Neanderthals.” The question Palin was asked in the FOX interview with Geraldine Ferraro was why she thought she has been so demeaned. And rather than simply answer, “Because the media is liberal and I am not,” Palin said, in no uncertain terms, that questioning whether or not a woman can work outside the home when they have small children equates to being a Neanderthal. She also suggested, perhaps accidentally, that whether or not a mom stays home in the early years is a “petty little thing” like picking on someone’s looks.

Perhaps Palin would rephrase it today. Nevertheless, she did show her feminist stripes — which was the point of my last post — by using the word “Neanderthal.” How so? Because if Palin has been attacked relentlessly for the past two years, which she has, and she’s suggesting the attacks are coming from Neanderthals, which she is, that means she believes the women of America must contend with a patriarchal society.

Sarah Palin is 46 years old, which means — like all of us — she has been raised under the banner of girl power her entire life — perhaps not from her family (or perhaps so, I wouldn’t know), but certainly from the culture. When I use the term feminist (and I recognize other people use it differently, but that’s largely the point of my new book: to give it one label and not three or four), I use it loosely. I’m referring to any person, male or female, liberal or conservative, whose knee-jerk reaction to the subject of women is that they live in a man’s world. I reject that it’s a man’s world. On the contrary, it is very much a woman’s world.

The bottom line is this. If Palin thinks the acceptance of absentee mothers equates to liberation, if the supposed Neanderthals among us need to “evolve into something a bit more with it,” then Palin is in fact a feminist.

That she’s a conservative has nothing to do with it.

Suzanne Venker is co-author of the forthcoming book The Flipside of Feminism: What Conservative Women Know – and Men Can’t Say (WND Books).
 Her website is

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