September 15, 2008 / Uncategorized

Sarah Palin on feminist issues


(Cross-posted at Reclusive Leftist.)

Governor Sarah Palin and daughter Piper Palin (in pink to the right of the Governor) share Russian tea and cookies with Nancy Hakari’s 3rd grade class at Riverbend Elementary School in Juneau.

Gov. Sarah Palin and daughter Piper at Riverbend Elementary School in Juneau.

Sarah Palin calls herself a “pro-life feminist.” Basically, that’s feminism minus abortion rights.

Obviously that puts her at odds with modern American feminism on a crucial issue. But to hear tell from the many feminist writers now publishing furious editorials, Sarah Palin isn’t just out of step on that one issue. She is, according to them, the antithesis of everything feminism means.


I thought I’d start a collection of Palin’s own statements on feminist issues. I post these for now without comment; that’ll come later. From what I can tell, the feminist writers who are attacking Palin are doing so with an astonishing disregard for the truth. I’m still trying to sort out why.

Sarah Palin on combining motherhood with a career:
“To any critics who say a woman can’t think and work and carry a baby at the same time, I’d just like to escort that Neanderthal back to the cave.”

Sarah Palin on her ability to govern Alaska while raising children: “My answer would always be … that I’m going to do the job just as well as any male governor who had kids, you know, I think we can handle this.”

Sarah Palin on raising her children to embrace gender equality: “Because I have both boys and girls I have a greater respect for equality and making sure that gender is not an issue and that everyone is treated equally.”

Sarah Palin on being a “pro-life feminist”: “I believe in the strength and the power of women, and the potential of every human life.”

Sarah Palin on contraception and sex education: “I’m pro-contraception, and I think kids who may not hear about it at home should hear about it in other avenues. So I am not anti-contraception. But, yeah, abstinence is another alternative that should be discussed with kids. I don’t have a problem with that. That doesn’t scare me, so it’s something I would support also.”

Sarah Palin on whether she would support an abortion ban in Alaska if Roe v. Wade were overturned: “It would be up to the people of Alaska to discuss and decide how we would like our society to reflect our values.”

Sarah Palin on a woman president and endorsing McCain instead of Hillary (March 2008): “But I have to admit a little bit of guilt there for not being able to jump on Hillary’s bandwagon, because I would so love to see a woman president. I think our nation is overdue there. So, I’ve said along, ‘Heck yeah, America’s ready for a woman president.'”

Sarah Palin on being the first female governor of Alaska: “I’m the first female governor in Alaska, so that’s brought with it kind of a whole new chapter in Alaska’s life. Like my husband — up here they refer to him as the ‘first dude,’ not the first gentleman. And Todd… A whole new chapter here when Todd is asked to do things like — and he graciously complies and he has a good time doing it — hosting, as he did a couple of weeks ago down in Juneau, our capital city, the former first ladies tea party. And he does just great at things like that, as well as working in oil fields, with snow machines and in commercial fishing. That’s a dynamic here that’s of interest to others.”

Sarah Palin on Title IX, sports, and growing up with gender equality: “You know I grew up with Title IX, and sports were so big, and in my upbringing very instrumental in shaping my character and a need to compete and really to win. So because of a very athletic background and growing up in a family, a busy large family, where gender never was really an issue there. My dad expected us to be back there chopping wood and snowmachining with the rest of them, hunting and fishing and doing all those things that are quite Alaskan.”

Sarah Palin on sports, scholarships, and the beauty pageant: “Graduating high school in 1982 there weren’t a whole lot of high-school athletes, females going on to college to play sports yet. That’s what I was looking for, a scholarship in athletics. I didn’t get one, the next best thing would be the Miss America scholarship pageant where at least you had to show that you had a talent. I played the flute and was really into music so, you know I won a couple of titles there, and it paid tuition through four, five years of college. So, that was OK, it wasn’t really my thing, I was never really comfortable with it, but it paid for some college, though.”

Sarah Palin on the challenge for Hillary and other women candidates to appear “tough”: “I recognize that Hillary seems to be trying real hard to be tough, but I say, more power to her. I think she’s had to do that. It’s unfortunate that she’s had to do that, but she comes across to me as tough, capable. I can respect that in her, that she is that tough, capable and experienced and all that….I recognize that’s what she’s trying to do and I think it’s unfortunate that maybe a woman candidate feels that she has to go there. You don’t see male candidates doing that.”

Sarah Palin on dealing with the double standard applied to women candidates: “Fair or unfair—and I do think that it’s a more concentrated criticism that Hillary gets on so many fronts; I think that’s unfortunate. But fair or unfair, I think she does herself a disservice to even mention it, really. You have to plow through that and know what you’re getting into. I say this with all due respect to Hillary Clinton and to her experience and to her passion for changing the status quo. But when I hear a statement like that coming from a women candidate with any kind of perceived whine about that excess criticism or a sharper microscope put on her, I think, man, that doesn’t do us any good. Women in politics, women in general wanting to progress this country, I don’t think it bodes well for her, a statement like that. Because, again, fair or not fair it is there. I think it’s reality and it’s a given, people just accept that she’s going to be under a sharper microscope. So be it. Work harder, prove to yourself to an even greater degree that you’re capable, that you’re going to be the best candidate.”

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  • Rachel

    Thank you so much for writing this Violet.

    I am copying and pasting it as a response to all the vitriol floating my way on Palin. There is so much misinformation.

    If you don’t want to vote for her because she is pro-life, fair enough. But so much of the other stuff being written is just factually incorrect.

  • Denise C

    THANK YOU!!!!!!! If women choose not to vote for McCain/Palin based on some of their positions on issues, that is their choice. But I was so frustrated with people describing her as the antithesis of a feminist based on a whole host of issues – many of them having absolutely nothing to do with women!

  • Dawn C

    As a feminist, I have learned to respect the experiences and the beliefs of other women, particularly as they differ from my own, but how does that apply to a pro-life woman who calls herself a feminist, if choice is fundamental to my feminist beliefs?

    We tend to think of it as black and white—either a woman is an autonomous human being or she is not—but I’m willing to back off that stance a bit and consider that once we have a reasonable number of women in political office, we’ll be able to have a conversation about women’s bodies and life and the law that is more nuanced than the one we usually have.

    What I hear when I listen to Sarah Palin is that she’s capable of nuanced thinking, that she respects women and the law, and that tells me we can find common ground.

  • juliej

    This is just great! Thanks so much for clearing the debris!

  • OMG LADIES what has happened to Hillary Clinton? Is this the only change Obama is able to accomplish? You have got to see these photos!

  • JuliaE

    What a terrific post and balanced. I am so glad I found this site.

    I’ve posted a link of this site to, and hope many of you who do support Sarah Palin will join that discussion, too.

  • Thank You for collecting all this, I enjoyed reading it.

  • This is EXCELLENT. Thanks so much and we’ll be sharing it as well.

  • Evie Falcon

    Sarah Palin is the worst thing to happen to women’s issues i years.

    She’s a member of the group “Feminists for Life,” which is dedicated to eliminating reproductive choice in this country. She is a big promoter, like McCain, of so-called “consumer-driven” health care, in which the government would eliminate the tax breaks companies get for offering health insurance (and thus your company’s financial incentive to pay for yours) — despite the fact that, as Gloria Steinem pointed out, women are far and way the larger users of our health care system. No one yet knows if she supports the Lilly Ledbetter pay equity bill, but she certainly hasn’t spoken about it in the last year and, given that the head of her ticket opposes it, it’s a fair bet to say she wouldn’t fight for it.

  • Go to and see for yourselves what they’re about. I was personally very surprised at what I learned there. (click all the links but especially the History link)

  • Cindy

    I think it does nothing to forward the discussion of ‘womens’ issues’ if we cannot have an open and honest discussion. I personally am opposed to Sarah Palin as a vice presidential pick for a number of reasons.
    1. She does not stand for or support any issues that I consider important.
    – first and foremost, she opposes a woman’s right to choose
    -she continues to support the ongoing war in Iraq
    -she has stated that she does not believe global warming is caused by the activities of man
    -she clearly has a record that is not supportive of environmental issues
    -she is a member of the NRA and does not believe in a ban on semi-automatic weapons

    2. She doesn’t have the experience to be president
    -I do not believe that she is not smart or a good politician, but rather that she has not been thinking about global/national issues in a nuanced way. Seeing her interviewed by Charlie Gibson was eerily like watching George Bush–too definitive, and too dogmatic.
    -when I compare her to Hillary it makes me sad


    I will support any woman or man that supports the ISSUES that I support.

  • Lu

    I really like Sarah, but do not know if I agree on all her views. Her beliefs are apparent but that is not the same as a formal position. There is not alot of clarity to just what she means by some of her stuff.

    Yea, you have to plow through it, but you should also be able to call them out when they are pulling stuff on you. And Sarah needs to remember some people have already cleared alot of the way she is plowing. Do you need to be Superwoman to get a fair shake?

    I think she was unfair to Clinton about claiming sexist bias. Clinton did not really do so much of that, I joined PUMA and we are doing it because we do not want sexism to be part of the election process.

    GO Sarah!

    Please clarify your positions more.

  • leslie

    I think it is clear that, differences aside, it would be a huge step forward if she were elected. Just having her on the national stage will do more to erase gender bias than a thousand protests and press releases. I for one and damn sick and tired of being held hostage to one issue–abortion–that submerges all the rest. I look forward to the day when we have two women nominated that can fiercely debate the issues for the American people. What a day that will be. This is a door we can partially open now.

  • Cora

    You know, there is more to feminism than women being in positions of power. Some people do not seem to get that. If a woman takes a misogynistic approach to leadership taking away the rights to manage our own bodies, failing to care for our children by not supporting good quality education and health care, and failing to support the progress of women through their governance decisions, then how does this help the cause of women.

  • Sorry about that. I meant to move the last paragraph to after making the statement that David made misleading statements about Sarah Palin. Please read accordingly.

  • Maura

    So now it’s misogynistic to prefer not killing female infants?
    Please provide examples of where Sarah fails to support “good” education and healthcare?

    Please don’t quote some rumor in the KOS, thanks.

  • Julia in Seattle

    I can’t support someone who

    1) Appoints friends from her school to positions of power, even when they have no experience for those positions. (Which she has a long and consistent history of doing.)

    2) Fires people for not “truly supporting her”, when they are the most experienced for the job.

    3) Lies on issues fundamental to who she says she is. “Thanks but no thanks to that bridge to nowhere.” On the record as for it, is against it after congress and the entire free world declares it a boondoggle, keeps the money anyway.

    Cronyism. Firing people who challenge you. Political pandering. This as the first female VP? Looks like the good ole boy network to me. To use Palin’s stump speech “Thanks but no thanks.”

  • This site is not going to be a signal station in the continuing smear campaign against Gov. Palin or any other woman candidate.

    I’m deleting comments that contain ungrounded accusations against Gov. Palin. Please refrain from attempting to re-post.

  • ida

    65% of married men think that Sarah can do the job of vice president because she is seen as a strong women that can do both and only 47% of married women think that she can do the job of vice president and the rest of the married mothers think that she can’t juggle both because she has one kid going to war and one kid with down syndrome.

  • Maura

    Why should women worry about men telling them they can’t achieve things when there are so many women out there willing to do the hack job themselves?

  • Lisa F

    OK, Palin’s perspective on many issues directly affecting women seem benign. Though I profoundly disagree with her on other huge issues as pointed out by some of the other posters. However, in November we are voting for a ticket—and there are some serious questions women need to ask about the dynamic of this ticket in relation to our shared concerns.

    John McCain has cynically selected a woman running mate who he is systematically silencing by not allowing her press conferences or interviews. He is “handling” her in such a paternalistic way that I cannot believe that “non-partisan” The New Agenda is not aggressively addressing and tracking this behavior. His campaign is using the charge of “sexism” as a self-serving scare word to frighten off critics–thus co-opting the term to silence criticism rather than for its very serious true definition. If Palin is such a feminist, and so ready to be VP, why is she allowing herself to manipulated in this way. If she is such a qualified and capable candidate, why shield her from the press? If she is a strong, capable and independent woman, why is she hiding (especially given her comments about Hillary as quoted above)? Why is there such outrage when Gibson asks her tough questions that any Vice Presidential candidate should be able to answer directly and without made-up bravado? Such questioning is not sexist, it is due diligence by the press. Hillary never flinched when asked hard questions, and she never allowed the sexist comments and behaviors to ever derail her from appearing in public, meeting with the press or taking unscripted questions. Just because she is a working mom who thinks women should have equal rights is not enough for me to support Palin. In one of the two interviews she has given I saw only a charismatic ideologue who reminded me, like Cindy, of Bush.

    In our current, admittedly broken, two-party system, anideological rejection of an Obama Adminstration (which is what we are voting for in November) is de facto support of a McCain Administration. Such an administration will do nothing, zip, zero to advance your agenda.

  • Amy Siskind


    Respectfully disagree. McCain already did something to advance our goals listed here on our website – he promised us to have more women in his administration than any president in history. Plus, he picked a woman for VP. If not Palin, it would have been a white male pro-life candidate that likely would give some women a pause for that reason.

    Read the articles (and more to come) on our blog. Having women in positions of power helps to advance women’s issues. There is a huge UN study that just came out last Thursday and specifically speak to this- Dawn C. will be writing about it shortly on our blog.

    We are also having conversations and/or meetings with a surrogate for the Obama Campaign and the Green Party this week.

    Women’s rights for all candidates. Now THAT’s a worthy goal!

  • Lisa F


    Thank you for the correction–and I would like to respectfully point out that a promise is not yet an advance. It is only a campaign promise…so far. And as far as The New Agenda is concerned, a white FEMALE anti-choice pro-gun pro-drilling candidate is better because…..she is a she?

    Look, I certainly get it about women in positions of leadership as advancing all women. (I am Hillary’s age and in a male dominated profession, so I have had my own work cut out for me). And I support this as a general goal and as a good thing.

    What I am concerned about is the idea of supporting ANY woman simply because of her gender. This is what McCain is counting on.

    He can promise all he wants, whatever he wants, but I agree with other posters here who say that just the presence of women is not enough. Its not just a numbers game, but one of substance, as you know. So I am looking at action. Given McCain’s selection of Palin, a charismatic ideologue, who is to the right of Bush on almost every issue of national concern, to be a heartbeat away from running our country demonstrates bad judgement on his part. Just think of all of the other highly qualified, experienced Republican women he might have chosen. And there are lots out there.

    So, instead, we get the current situation where either Palin is hiding or McCain is “protecting” her–both unacceptable from a feminist point of view. And the outcome being an insult to all of us who deserve to know who she is and what she really stands for.

    By the way, speaking of numbers, what do you make of the % of women delegates at the Republican Convention vs. the Democratic Convention…?

  • goesh

    I grew up in rural North Dakota where some of the best farm equipment operators were women, where some women managed the entire dairy herd and others could heave hay bales for hours on end and spend many hours in a day driving grain trucks. I knew one woman who could load trucks all day with sacks full of potatoes. That is quite a list of statements made by Governor Palin but I am not surprised or necessarily impressed over what has always been common sense to me personally and culturally experienced in my formative years. The vicious comments made about Sarah Palin would be in paraticular extremely offensive to our women bearing arms in the 2 theatres of war we are currently in, Afghanistan and Iraq. That’s right, women carrying rifles who have at times had to use them. As a man, I also find it very condescending that her mate is continually called a dude, first dude. A father of 5 with a steady work record in dangerous occupations is certainly not some dude.

  • Christine

    Thank you soooo much for standing up for Sarah Palin. I have 3 daughters & we are all horrified at how the press has been treating her. It is so disrespectful & should be considered insulting to all, but especially women. This political bigotry has gotten totally out of hand & it needs to stop. I’m so glad I’ve found this site. . It was a breath of fresh air to read something positive written about about Sarah Palin. She is a truly remarkable woman.
    Sincerely grateful,

  • jo

    i notice that you didn’t say how Palin refused to idinitfy herself as a feminist, backing away from a statement she had made to Katie Couric