Monday, July 11, 2011

Who's A Feminist?

I know I will probably stir some kettles with this one...

About 15 years ago or so, I remember listening to a call in show on public radio that talked about women's rights.  At one point a caller called in and talked about a friend of hers that was in many ways a strong feminist except that she was pro-life.  The caller asked if this woman would be consider a feminist.  The guest on the program responded: no, she could not be considered a feminist because of her stance on abortion rights.

I remember being rather shocked about that.  I can understand not agreeing with someone on that topic and I can see myself (I am pro-choice, by the way) have some issues.  But I didn't think this one issue should disqualify a woman from being...well, pro-woman.

There's a post up at the Her.menutics blog (one of many blogs from the evangelical magazine, Christianity Today), that talks about "evangelical feminism" in light of the prominence of two women in political ciricles, Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin.  Now, I'm not a fan of either woman.  I strongly disagree with Ms. Bachmann's anti-gay views and I agree with former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty in that the congresswoman hasn't done much during her time in Congress.  I think Palin does have some smarts, as evidence in this recent Atlantic piece, but I think she decided to play the role of outsider instead of competent governor.  I know it might distrub folks to see these folks as feminists, but in a way, they are.

Before people start throwing tomatoes at me, let me speak.  What I am trying to say here is that both women are very strong, opinionated women who have worked hard to get where they are.   I might totally disagree with their views, but these are not the stereotype of conservative women that hide behind their strong husbands. 

Does that make people especially my liberal feminist friends, uneasy?  Yeah, it probably does.  But then maybe we need to think again about what feminism means.  If it only means being pro-choice, then you have made it the same narrow kind of club that we accuse conservatives of doing.  However, if there is a diversity of ways of being a feminist, then maybe people can come together on issues where they agree to continue to uplift the role of women in society.

Okay, just let me get my umbrella.  Now you can throw your tomatoes at me.

1 comment:

A said...

Hi (found your blog through another we both commented on and have been enjoying it!)

I think you are absolutely right that Palin and Bachmann are not typical hide-behind-husband conservative women. But I don't think being a feminist is dependant on whether or not an individual woman behaves in a particular way. It's about whether or not that woman is working toward the recognition by government/polity/religious institution/society/culture/etc. that all human beings deserve equal opportunity and respect, including women. These politicians don't do that - and not just because they are anti-choice.

My problem with them is that they are hypocritical. They encourage women to do what they don't do - adhere to value systems and family structures that encourage the degredation and devaluing of women. They're like Dick Cheney's daughter - she's an out partnered lesbian building a family. But that doesn't make her a gay rights advocate does it?