Sarah Palin has made feminism the newest battleground in the culture wars, urging conservative women to "rise up" like "mama grizzlies" and claim the cause of feminism as their own. In recent speeches, Palin has encouraged women on the right to push aside liberal, mainstream feminists, and launch a "new, conservative feminist movement" that supports only political candidates who uncompromisingly oppose abortion. Her call has provoked a strong reaction from liberal activists and pundits, who say Palin is just putting a "feministic facade" on policies that deny women their rights. Do they have a point? (Watch an MSNBC debate over whether Sarah Palin is a feminist)
Sarah Palin is no feminist: Palin's "sisterly speechifying" is just part of a larger conservative bid for the hearts and minds of women by "appropriating feminist language," says Jessica Valenti in The Washington Post. But "what Palin is peddling isn't feminism — it's a manipulated buzzword being used to garner support for a party that time and time again votes against women's rights." Sarah Palin "isn't a feminist — not in the slightest."
"The fake feminism of Sarah Palin"
Liberals just don't like Palin's brand of feminism: Palin isn't co-opting feminism, says Kathryn Jean Lopez in National Review. She's reclaiming a movement that was started by Susan B. Anthony and other women who fought for the right to vote — and were staunchly pro-life. These were "smart women, at home with their femininity and perplexed by those who would deny the very power of life within them." It's empowering to hear Palin remind women who their "foremothers" really were.
"Sarah Palin: A feminist in the pro-life tradition"
Palin has the right to call herself a feminist: The "feminist" label doesn't have to be so polarizing, says Meghan Daum in the Los Angeles Times. Boiled down, feminism just means viewing men and women as equals, and seeing your gender "as neither an obstacle to success nor an excuse for failure." So if Sarah Palin "has the guts to call herself a feminist, then she's entitled to be accepted as one."
"Sarah Palin, feminist"
If Palin's a feminist, the word has no meaning: "Daum's got a point, sort of," says Kate Harding in Jezebel. Feminists can and do disagree. But if Sarah Palin — "someone who actively seeks to restrict women's freedom" — can call herself a feminist then the word ceases to have any meaning at all. The good news for true feminists is that if conservatives feel the need to steal our language "to broaden their appeal, then we must have done something right along the way."
"5 ways of looking at 'Sarah Palin feminism'"
There's nothing feminist about shouting down conservative women: Feminism used to be about fighting for equality, says Cassy Fiano at NewsReal. But "radical modern feminists" have twisted the word so that — to them, at least — modern feminism means you can't be pro-life, and that's why the radicals' "heads explode" when they hear Sarah Palin call herself a feminist. It's sad — "a movement that once fought for equality for women now doesn’t want women to think for themselves."
"Sarah Palin brings out the hypocrisy of Jessica Valenti and the feminist left"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why all drugs should be legal. (Yes, even heroin.)
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- How to trim $500 from your monthly spending
- Comic-Con 2014: Everything we learned about Avengers 2, Batman v. Superman, and more
- 7 ideas from ancient thinkers that will improve your modern life
- The forgotten victims of the war in Ukraine
- Why you should really take a nap this afternoon, according to science
- Are there too many good shows on television?
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
Subscribe to the Week