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Thread: What was Feminism?

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    Default What was Feminism?

    September 15, 2008
    What Was Feminism?
    by Victor Davis Hanson
    Tribune Media Services

    The media went hysterical over Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska and Republican nominee for vice president. She may have appeared to the public as an independent, capable professional woman, but to a particular elite she couldn't possibly be a real feminist or even a serious candidate. And that raises questions about what is — and what is not — feminism.

    Feminism grew out of the 1960s to address sexual inequality. At an early age, I was mentored on most feminist arguments by my late mother. She graduated from Stanford Law School in the 1940s but then was offered only a single job as a legal secretary. Instead, she went back home to raise three children with my father, a teacher and farmer, and only returned to legal work in her 40s. She was eventually named a California superior court judge and, later, a state appellate court justice.

    Hers was a common and compelling feminist argument of the times, and went something like this: Women should receive equal pay for equal work, and not be considered mere appendages of their husbands. Childrearing — if properly practiced as a joint enterprise — did not preclude women from pursuing careers. A woman's worth was not to be necessarily judged by having either too many or too few children, given the privacy of such decisions and the co-responsibility of male partners.

    In such an ideal gender-blind workplace, women were not to be defined by their husband's or father's success or failure. The beauty of women's liberation was that it was not hierarchical but included the unmarried woman who drove a combine on her own farm, the corporate attorney and the homemaker who chose to home-school her children.

    Women in the workplace did not look for special favors. And they surely did not wish to deny innately feminine differences. Instead, they asked only that men should not establish arbitrary rules of the game that favored their male gender.

    Soon radical changes in American attitudes about birth control, abortion, dating, marriage and healthcare became, for some, part and parcel of women's liberation. But in its essence feminism still was about equality of opportunity, and so included women of all political and religious beliefs.

    That old definition of feminism is now dead. It has been replaced by a new creed that is far more restrictive — as the controversy over Sarah Palin attests. Out of the recent media frenzy, four general truths emerged about the new feminism:

    First, there is a particular class and professional bent to the practitioners of feminism. Sarah Palin has as many kids as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, she has as much of a prior political record as the once-heralded Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, who was named to the Democratic ticket by Walter Mondale in 1984 — and arguably has as much as, or more executive experience than, Barack Obama. Somehow all that got lost in the endless sneering stories about her blue-collar conservatism, small Alaskan town, five children, snowmobiling husband and Idaho college degree.

    Second, feminism now often equates to a condescending liberalism. Emancipated women who, like Palin, do not believe in abortion or are devout Christians are at best considered unsophisticated dupes. At worse, they are caricatured as conservative interlopers, piggybacking on the hard work of leftwing women whose progressive ideas alone have allowed the Palins of the world the choices that otherwise they would not now enjoy.

    Apparently these feminists believe that without the ideas of Gloria Steinem on abortion, a moose-hunting PTA mom would not have made governor. The Democrat's vice presidential candidate, Joe Biden, said Palin's election, given her politics, would be "a backward step for women."

    Third, hypocrisy abounds. Many female critics of Palin, in Washington and New York politics and media, found their careers enhanced through the political influence of their powerful fathers, their advantageous marriages to male power players and the inherited advantages of capital. The irony is that a Palin — like a Barbara Jordan, Golda Meir or Margaret Thatcher — made her own way without the help of money or influence.

    Fourth, most Americans still believe in the old feminism but not this new doctrinaire liberal brand. Consequently, a struggling John McCain suddenly has shot ahead of Obama in the polls. Apparently millions of Americans like Palin's underdog feminist saga and her can-do pluckiness. Many are offended by haughty liberal media elites sneering at someone that, politics aside, they should be praising — for her substantial achievements, her inspirational personal story and her Obama-like charisma.

    This past week we were supposed to learn about a liberated Gov. Sarah Palin. Instead the media taught us more than we ever wanted to know about what they now call feminism.


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    Super Moderator twitchy2.0's Avatar
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    Utter crap.
    "If you are not outraged, then you are not paying attention," Heather Heyer's facebook quote.

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    She is an embarrasment to real women everywhere.

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    Elite Member ana-mish-ana's Avatar
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    From what I have read REAL feminists are horrified by Palin especially her stance on reproductive rights.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ana-mish-ana View Post
    From what I have read REAL feminists are horrified by Palin especially her stance on reproductive rights.
    They are. And rightfully so.
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

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    Elite Member ana-mish-ana's Avatar
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    And oh yeah dont forget the rape kit story- for a feminist she sure didnt care about how her sheriff/town was charging women for their rape kits, due to this the rest of Alaska had to vote to change this legislation especially considering that rapes in this state has one of the highest rates in the country.

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    Elite Member lurkur's Avatar
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    LOL @ Palin being an "underdog feminist."

    She is the absolute opposite of feminism.

    Feminists fought for the right for women to vote, for them to be able to choose, just like their male counterparts.

    These women, like Palin and Schlafly, who would have never had the vote were it not for feminists, are now turning around and using their vote to take away other women's choices.

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    For the benefit of this writer who seems to know nothing about his subject, I think the title should be: What is Feminism?

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    she has as much of a prior political record as the once-heralded Rep. Geraldine Ferraro
    She has less of a political record than Ferraro. Ferraro had served three terms in the House. Palin's been Gov. of a state with a population less than the size of Ferraro's district for 20 months.

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    At the risk of incurring the wrath of one and all...under all the soaring praise for Palin in this article, the premise is correct. The Feminist movement at its core was to create choice and control over our own lives so that we could have options other than homemaker, teacher or secretary. Theoretically that should encompass any choice - even uber conservative creationism, if that works for you. The problem with Palin is her argument of self-made feminist is undermined by her seeming to allow her husband to act as her co-governor and her amorphous political ethics. There's no real need to denigrate her accomplishments, the longer she's out on the stump the more she proves that she's just not ready. It's not the lack of experience, it's just total lack of exposure and basic understanding of the most important issues facing our country.

    The charging rape victims to process their rape kits was not a betrayal of women, it was a betrayal of humanity.

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    ^^A very thought-provoking post. Thank you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaMama View Post
    At the risk of incurring the wrath of one and all...under all the soaring praise for Palin in this article, the premise is correct. The Feminist movement at its core was to create choice and control over our own lives so that we could have options other than homemaker, teacher or secretary. Theoretically that should encompass any choice - even uber conservative creationism, if that works for you.

    The charging rape victims to process their rape kits was not a betrayal of women, it was a betrayal of humanity.
    ITA....beautiful summation


    But the rape kit thing happens all over this country every day, under politico's of all parties......so the outrage needs to be directed at this idea in it's entirety, not just as an Anti-Palin measure.
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    There is no denying that this woman is against what most women are for.
    To me, it's really sad. It's the 21st century and the first candidate to be near the White House is a woman who is still in the Dark Ages.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ana-mish-ana View Post
    From what I have read REAL feminists are horrified by Palin especially her stance on reproductive rights.
    I'm a pro-life Democrat, and I don't like Palin. I think her stance focuses on the wrong things (just as those who are abortion advocates ALSO focus on the wrong thing). She makes women who oppose abortion seem uninformed and lacking in compassion. Instead of worrying about the legality of abortion, we should focus on why women have them and try to make sure women are educated. Also, I don't understand how one can be against abortion AND against birth control. Rape and incest make up 1% of abortions performed, and there are women who lie about getting raped to excuse their abortion. This issue hasn't been examined closely by either side. It's not about our bodies, it's about everything, our education, our children, our responsibilities, how NOT to conceive a child. We need to give women real choices.

    Palin is an extremist--but not all of us who oppose abortion do so because of religious reasons, and not all of us are judgmental.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Incognito View Post
    That old definition of feminism is now dead. It has been replaced by a new creed that is far more restrictive as the controversy over Sarah Palin attests. Out of the recent media frenzy, four general truths emerged about the new feminism:

    First, there is a particular class and professional bent to the practitioners of feminism. Sarah Palin has as many kids as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, she has as much of a prior political record as the once-heralded Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, who was named to the Democratic ticket by Walter Mondale in 1984 and arguably has as much as, or more executive experience than, Barack Obama. Somehow all that got lost in the endless sneering stories about her blue-collar conservatism, small Alaskan town, five children, snowmobiling husband and Idaho college degree.


    Yeah and Mondale lost the election and Geraldine Ferraro was crucified and pilloried in the press for having no real experience, no deep knowledge of the critical issues facing the country and no foreign policy experience. Sound familar?

    Again for the reason-impaired, Barack holds a federal level position. Palin does not. He at least has had some passing acquaintance with foreign policy and the issues. Palin has no knowledge of federal issues and being able to see Russia from her doorstep doesn't count as foreign policy experience. At least Barack has lived overseas and seen what life is like.

    It's not a 'class' issue, look at the class that Barack comes from. Was Biden born with a silver spoon in his mouth? How about Kay Bailey Hutchenson or Hillary Clinton?

    It is an issue of personal responsibility. No one cares that Palin's degree is from a substandard public school. They care that she switched schools like an over sexed rabbit jumping from hutch to hutch because it speaks of her inability to commit to anything 'difficult' No one cares about her five kids, she is the one shoving them into the nations eye unlike Pelosi or even McCain and his oodles of kids. It's her use of them that is disgusting.

    If we're sneering at her small town Alaska political ways it's because she's proven again and again that she's run her political machines much like the most corrupt cronism clubs like Tammany Hall and Huey P Long.

    Second, feminism now often equates to a condescending liberalism. Emancipated women who, like Palin, do not believe in abortion or are devout Christians are at best considered unsophisticated dupes. At worse, they are caricatured as conservative interlopers, piggybacking on the hard work of leftwing women whose progressive ideas alone have allowed the Palins of the world the choices that otherwise they would not now enjoy.
    Okay, so explain to me again how trampling on the rights of other women is a feminist ideal? The whole point of feminism is allowing ALL women the freedom to decide the details of their lives. You don't like abortion, fine, don't have one. But don't try to take away the right of others to decide for themselves where they line up on this issue.

    Apparently these feminists believe that without the ideas of Gloria Steinem on abortion, a moose-hunting PTA mom would not have made governor. The Democrat's vice presidential candidate, Joe Biden, said Palin's election, given her politics, would be "a backward step for women."
    It would be a backwards step for women because she alligns herself with politics that inhibit the freedom and rights of ALL American women, but most especially middle class and lower class American women. Gloria Steinem turned the old 'little woman' thinking of the average American on it's ear and first championed a woman's right to do what she wanted, including working in traditionally male dominated fields. Palin would not have been allowed to even sit on the freaking school board back in the pre-feminism days, so she's shitting on the very foundations of what allows her to run in the first place. Typically right wing.

    Third, hypocrisy abounds. Many female critics of Palin, in Washington and New York politics and media, found their careers enhanced through the political influence of their powerful fathers, their advantageous marriages to male power players and the inherited advantages of capital. The irony is that a Palin like a Barbara Jordan, Golda Meir or Margaret Thatcher made her own way without the help of money or influence.
    Name one, name just one that has politically advanced because Daddy or Hubby was holding her hand and beating back the boys club. Even Hillary Clinton has been more hurt than helped by her association with Bill.at times. Bill didn't hand her that senate seat on a silver platter, she earned it, fought for it. Utter twaddle.

    Fourth, most Americans still believe in the old feminism but not this new doctrinaire liberal brand. Consequently, a struggling John McCain suddenly has shot ahead of Obama in the polls. Apparently millions of Americans like Palin's underdog feminist saga and her can-do pluckiness. Many are offended by haughty liberal media elites sneering at someone that, politics aside, they should be praising for her substantial achievements, her inspirational personal story and her Obama-like charisma.
    Too bad most of those substantial achievements have been proven to be lies. There is no new-old feminism. There is feminism, the right for every woman in American to the same chances for betterment, in education, in career, that men have enjoyed since the founding of this nation. Sarah Palin wants to take away some of those rights.

    This past week we were supposed to learn about a liberated Gov. Sarah Palin. Instead the media taught us more than we ever wanted to know about what they now call feminism.

    Yeah, we got to learn she's a lying piece of detritus and an embarrassment to both feminists, women in general and Christianity. How will she explain away her lies on Judgment Day if it all goes down like she professes to believe? The Queen of Hypocrisy.

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