October 31, 2008 / Uncategorized

Sarah Palin: a Rorschach for Feminists

by

Feminist eruptions about Sarah Palin have been stunning. Eve Ensler went ballistic. NOW endorsed an all-male ticket and disavowed Palin. Gloria Steinem contradicted her January op-ed argument. Naomi Wolf spun off into a paranoid fantasy. Feminists urgently circulated petitions full of false claims about Palin. When I sent friends information and links correcting these claims—shouldn’t that reduce fear and allow a saner conversation?—two who wrote back were outraged. Friends who normally speak in dulcet tones were suddenly pitched an octave and decibels higher, unable to converse in the normal rhythm of give and take.

I began asking myself, what is going on with feminists as they rationalize lining up with their misogynist Party/candidate while engaging with this new rorschach named Sarah Palin? How is it that feminists—the Americans most caricatured, distorted, misunderstood, and demonized by the Right and by the Left—are themselves caricaturing, misrepresenting, and demonizing a woman whose policies and beliefs offend them? Is it too much to ask that they at least get their facts straight, and not push rumors and unexamined claims as if they were gospel? How is it that Hillary supporters who have aligned with the DNC’s selectee are exhibiting some of the behaviors they formerly excoriated in Obama devotees (e.g., self-righteous judgmentalism, and the rejection, denial, or trivializing of information unfavorable to their guy)? Is it just too uncomfortable for them to bear the cognitive dissonance entailed by their second choice?

As to those pesky facts: Palin favors contraception. Despite Ms. Gandy’s claim that NOW would not endorse Palin because of her anti-abortion position, as governor and mayor, she never attempted to promote legislation that would weaken or alter abortion laws. Palin tripled (not cut) special needs funding, did not try to ban library books, and has not pushed creationism in schools, only opined that students be allowed to discuss it along with evolutionary theory. Contrary to Charlie Gibson’s inquisition and ABC’s egregious, libelous cropping and editing of not only his interview with Palin but also of the video clip he referenced, she does not see the Iraq war as a mission from God. She asked Alaskans to pray that what our troops, our leaders, and our country are doing there is part of God’s plan. Or, as Lincoln said, to pray that we are on God’s side. Many of our past presidents have expressed similar sentiments, and the world didn’t end.

Exactly how does trashing Sarah Palin—a savvy, self-made woman with whom so many non-elite Americans can identify—advance the feminist agenda? And how far has that agenda advanced these last 40 years? Sexism is still overwhelmingly invisible, misogyny (literally, hatred of women) does not constitute a hate crime, feminists are ridiculed rather than honored, and gender asymmetry is not even on the table. This appalling state of affairs testifies to the depth and comprehensiveness of patriarchy as well as to the limitations of extant feminist strategies.

In her September 19 and 24 letter to NOW PAC members, Ms. Gandy tells us that, “Palin dismisses talk of sexism as whining and says women just need to ‘work harder’ and ‘prove yourself.'” Certainly Ms Gandy knows as well as I do that women who break barriers often feel they have to ignore the sexism and garbage that is heaped on them. They cannot even name what is going on. Why not? If they do, they are called whiners and ridiculed for “playing the victim.”

Worse yet, this double bind is perpetrated not only by the usual suspects, but also by many leftist feminists and self-proclaimed “postfeminists” who denigrate real feminists who are trying to change the many ways women are brutalized by patriarchy. The intention and the result of this leftist/postfeminist ideology is to erase the harsh realities of sexism and misogyny, and deny the validity of women’s experience of them—and that is what I call anti-feminist as well as anti-woman.

The truth is this: A woman can’t deal with sexism solo. She has to have a Greek Chorus to amplify, interpret, and spin with, for, and about her. And, after 40 years, there is no Greek Chorus for women at the national level. Nada. Zip.

  • There is no feminist voice in the Old Media, let alone a feminist perspective informing all the media. The media are totally androcentric in their framing of all issues. Women who are allowed face time either see the world as their male bosses do, or tread very carefully with their small departures.
  • The DNC never had Hillary’s back, never became her Greek Chorus. They not only betrayed their best candidate in 75 years, but they also betrayed the many constituencies for whom she has a long record of fighting.

And here comes Ms. Gandy adding another layer: dumping on Palin for taking the position that female public figures are routinely forced into because establishment feminism doesn’t have her back, and have not been able to make it possible for her to do otherwise.

After 40 years, feminist organizations and spokeswomen have not been able to create a cultural context that would make it impermissible to attack women and perpetrate the kind of vicious misogyny directed at Hillary Clinton and now at Sarah Palin. It would be a tall order given that patriarchy has been organizing our social world and our culture for 5,000-6,000 years. The only good news here is that the behavior of the DNC has made it transparent to many of us that we’ll never get there by being an appendage of the DNC and held hostage to Roe.

If establishment feminists had any real clout with the DNC, Hillary would be taking the oath of office on January 20. Rather than attacking women candidates who don’t fit their precious self-image, leftist so-called feminists and those wondrous postfeminists should get over themselves. If they had done that a year ago, Hillary would be on her way to the White House, and we wouldn’t be in this mess of opting between which set of candidates scares us less.

Sarah Palin is a rorschach for the Left and for feminists. She has exposed the boundaries and implicit rules for inclusion in their clubs, thereby sparking a much needed dialogue about what feminism is and can be. She has thrown into relief the limitations of establishment feminist strategies, and blown open the door to alternative strategies. Sarah Palin arrived on the national scene at the moment when many Hillary supporters were recognizing an old political truth: If you can’t walk away from the table, you have no bargaining power. If you have no alternatives, you will get nothing but crumbs.

© 2008 by Artemis March.

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  • Juliette

    Artemis,

    Well written well said. I understand the frustration created by friends and family who take CNN and MSKGB at their word. The lies spread by Soledad O’Brian, Paul Begalia, Hillary Rosen and all the other Obama cult members have done serious damage to the reputation of Governor Palin. Drew Griffin’s desperate attempt to humiliate Gov. Palin was despicable. I have presented copies of Fact Check.org’s article, Sliming Palin to many of the new Kool-Aide drinkers, but they would rather be part of the irreverent masses then accept that they were deceived by the Obama-media. Our country is dying at the hands of fraud journalism. I find myself ashamed at my own friends and family members for wanting to be part of this popular movement. They are just to insecure to be different and think for themselves. We are a deseased nation of immature non-thinkers. How else would a man like Barak Obama come so close to becoming our next president.? I thank God for people like you and Amy, my friends at Puma DONEdems and Democrats for Principle before Party. We are America’s HOPE. Obama has brought us only despair.

  • Amy Siskind

    Artemis,

    Incredibly well written and thought out article.

    Worry not – they will come around. There is a feminist awakening in this country. There is a groundswell of passion for the cause – more so than in decades. As we evolve, they’ll either join us for the good of all women and children, or they’ll be left at the side of the road (heck – they’re there already, they just haven’t noticed:-))

    Amy

  • Kitkat

    Bravo.

  • cal

    Brava.

  • LindaA1

    I believe the most vicious attack against women who have decried Obama’s misogyny and voiced defense of Palin has been launched today by Robin Morgan at The Women’s Media Center.

    Caution: if you are an anti-Obama feminist – or simply a feminist who deploys the violent and sexist treatment of Palin, this scurrilous assault – ON YOU – will make you feel physically ill.

    Moose, Mousse, and Spalinism by Robin Morgan

    Cross posted:
    http://www.gloriafeldt.com/hea.....tics-blog/

    http://www.womensmediacenter.com/ex/103108_a.html

  • Puma-SF

    This is a fantastic post. and your point of refererence is spot on. It is people like you who have kept me sane. We fight on.

  • Briar

    Excellent article. I think one element in the outrageous rejection of Palin by self-styled feminists (their actions prove them otherwise) has to do with another element of her political persona – her class. I know this is a very old fashioned thing to reference, but I think the fact that she identifies closely with working class interests and attitudes has distanced her from middle class liberals and feminists who simply reject as ignorant, backward and stupid those they reflexively characterise as “red neck”. To some extent this hurt Hillary Clinton, whose appeal to the same people allowed them to smear her as “racist”. We all know working class people are racist, don’t we. Goes with their general ignorance and backwardsness. Perhaps, the sneaking suggestion is, they shouldn’t be allowed to vote at all…

  • Zee

    Excellent points, Artemis! Thanks for this. Add Susan Estrich to the list of those bashing Palin. One does wonder how it advances the feminist cause to denigrate an accomplished woman who is admired by many women who relate to her.

    And this part is so true and must change (another future project for The New Agenda):

    “There is no feminist voice in the Old Media, let alone a feminist perspective informing all the media. The media are totally androcentric in their framing of all issues.”

    One of the worst examples of this during the primary was when the media took it upon themselves to ask whether they were being sexist and whether misogyny was playing a role in the primary coverage. Tim Russert moderated a roundtable discussion of ALL male blowhards. He didn’t even bother to get a token female. After they all decided there was no sexism he congratulated them on the “intelligent” discussion.

    What a mockery!

  • Athena

    Not everyone can handle complexity. It’s all or nothing – except now it’s not enough to disagree; one must annihilate. Problem is, women get annihilated most readily using the toolkit of standard sexism. Therefore, all women lose even as one woman is targeted.

    This would have been a moment for Morgan et al. to use the Palin candidacy as a way to define a pro-woman sensibility in the middle of issue-based disagreements.

    This site/blog handles the complexity; we have to keep this mission going post-Tuesday.

  • WildWomyn

    Brava, Artemis! Thank you, thank you, thank you! You have given voice to what I have been feeling throughout this entire election season and have been unable to adequately articulate.

  • Lexia

    Thank you. You’ve put what’s wrong in a nutshell.

    The very worst have been the academic feminists; I suppose at some level they realized that their toehold on their jobs and in their economic and social class depended on their ultimately agreeing with the overwhelmingly sexist academic culture.

    I’ve watched the feminists who were my inspirations and my guides in the 70’s slither into spinelessness as the boys held their collective breath and threatened to turn blue if they didn’t get their way.

    The boys got their way: that once in a century window of idealism combined with the prosperity to make it happen slammed shut.

  • While I will always deplore sexist treatment of women anywhere and everywhere, not every negative portrayal of Sarah Palin is sexist. She is not a rorschach for anyone, in my view. I oppose Sarah Palin because I disagree with the views she and her running mate espouse. Period. The Republican Party long ago left the realms of reasonable discourse, and McCain Palin have done nothing to bring it back to reason.

    Hillary Clinton was subjected to no more than I expected from our misogynist culture. It could have been far worse than it was.

    But you’re very right about the lack of a Greek Chorus. We seem, to me, far too busy trying to determine who is really a feminist to bother with that.

    We feminists can’t even decide what feminism is right now. Is it supporting a woman candidate, any woman candidate simply by virtue of her gender? Not to me.

    I’m all for telling the truth about every candidate and not basing decisions on who to support based on lies and exaggerations. But I don’t need lies and exaggerations to know that Sarah Palin is not someone I want to see in the White House. She opposes embryonic stem cell research. She believes abortion should be a state issue and not a federal one, despite her belief that the constitution offers an inherent right to privacy. She is a free marketeer. She does not support same-sex marriage. She does not believe that health care benefits should be given to same sex partners (although she did veto a bill that would have denied them, saying it was unconstitutional, despite her agreement with it — that’s a point in her favor). She thinks creationism should be discussed alongside evolution in schools. She supports No Child Left Behind. She wants to drill in ANWR. She opposes a great number of environmental protections. She shoots wolves from helicopters. She supports John McCain’s plan to raise the cost of health care for most Americans. Supports the McCain tax plan.

    And so. very. much. more.

    I’m not now and never will be a single issue voter, even when we do finally decide exactly what being a feminist is. Good for Palin for being a city council member, a mayor, a governor and a candidate for vice president. But I, personally, pray that she will never be in the White House.

  • Nancy

    Artemis,
    Thank you for speaking up in such an articulate and clear piece.
    We may not be many or mighty, but we are the Greek Chorus
    and The New Agenda allows us to reach out to one another in a way in which we can grow in strength and numbers.
    Much of this is part of Hillary’s legacy.
    And while women may not agree with Sarah Palin’s positions,
    they should be able to appreciate her strength and the fact that she has not imposed her personal beliefs on the world; so let us not do that to her. Let’s recognize that she is accomplished in many ways; one example – going out before millions, both at the RNC and Vice Presidential Debate and was remarkable under stress and did women proud!
    Thank you, thanks Hillary and Sarah and thanks to The New Agenda.
    Nancy

  • Karen H.

    Love the Rorschach analogy! Well-done.

  • Kitkat

    The comments above define our challenge.

    Being a femisnist (to me) will never mean agreeing with a specific set of issues. That is a problem of our past that I hope we can change for the future. I do not want abortion or any issue to define feminism. I am a successful female attorney with children and I am pro life, believe in drilling in Alaska, believe in a strong military, believe in gay rights including the right to marry, believe in universal health care (as proposed by HRC, not BHO) . . . . the list is long of what I beleive (as an independent)…..but these issues do no define me as a woman or a feminist.

    We must find the common ground that binds us and makes us strong…..strong enough to ensure fair and equal treatment in the workforce, in the political arena, in the media . . . and protection against hate.

  • Kitkat

    Let me add one more thought.

    I do not like Pelosi, yet I think it is very important that she reached the level of power in our political structure and, for the same reason, I think it is essential that we support Palin in breaking the VP glass ceiling (although I happen to really like Palin).

    The point: The more women that reach high positions of government, the breaking of all of these ceilings . . . the more we can work to be viewed as equals (or challenged as equals) . . . I cannot wait for the day that several women run for President and VP . . . then it will be difficult to heap the hate on all of them . . . I hope.

    People who “cling” to the issues miss the point. It is those “issues” that make you hostage to a party, reduce your power (and why the DNC so easily dismissed Clinton and her 18M voters). The issues (to which the parties often on pay lip service only) can be fought for through associations and your own grassroots work….but putting a women on a national ticket is something we have seen only once in recent history and this is my FIRST TIME to have the PRIVILEGED of voting for a WOMAN on a nation ticket for VP.

    And I am so very excited to vote for Palin, a very accomplished, hard working woman that will do great things for this country, and I am very proud to be part of this historic moment.

  • Zee

    Regarding that common ground. When did feminists start becoming pro-abortion instead of pro-choice? And if you are pro-choice, shouldn’t that include allowing women to choose a “pro-life” stance? Most of the vehement antichoice organizations were (and are) run by men.

    What happened to “make abortion safe and rare?” Couldn’t that be a starting point for common ground? “Feminists for life” do believe in contraceptives. More common ground.

    Oh, and newswriter, fairly balanced run-down on Sarah Palin, except that she does not think creationism should be discussed “alongside” evolution. She thinks evolution is the science and should be taught as such. She said in response to a question that she thought teachers should be allowed to discuss evolution if brought up by the students. Obama has said the same, btw.

    Not to mention that both Obama and Biden are against gay marriage…and Obama even has a vehement anti-gay marriage activist/lawyer campaigning for him. Who wants to overturn CA’s gay marriage because, he says, it will lead to genetically-engineered children on demand.

    Between him and Naomi Wolf, who needs to read science fiction?

  • nat

    Beautiful article. It articulated everything that I had been thinking but couldn’t put into words.

    Zee, I had a similar thought regarding pro-choice vs pro-abortion when I discovered that my local pro-choice state senator voted in favor of making it legal to force a women to have an abortion. That sounds like the very opposite of pro choice to me. What a crazy world.

  • yttik

    I am really dissapointed in many feminists, Robin Morgan included. Since when did feminism become such an exclusive club? It’s like politically correct feminism run amuck. I am once again on the wrong side of the tracks, not good enough to enter the feminist country club.

    You betcha I’m a feminist. I believe in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. That’s it! There’s not supposed to be a dress code or a political party you must belong to. There’s supposed to be choice and tolerance for all sorts of views from people who all believe “in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes”.

  • c a

    The rorschach analogy IS brilliant. The lack of consistency of logic for feminists across the spectrum is subconsciously obvious but I see few talking about it, and the worst attacks coming from “progressives” and feminists themselves, almost like “mean girls”.

    Your statement at the close of “If you can’t walk away from the table, you have no bargaining power.” is outrageously true. Clearly, the DNC and Obama were so certain that women would “come around” no matter how silent they were to the vilification of the most qualified candidate. Which is worse? The man who provides for his woman but verbally abuses her, or the man that never claimed to support her but is consistent? We have to be ready to walk away to say we don’t have to put up with it, even if we have to be alone.

    Why aren’t groups like NOW being consistent to support women instead of a majority of their alerts having to do with Obama or gay rights (even since before he was the nominee)? I got part of my answer when I heard someone from NARAL on NPR defending their endorsement of Obama by saying something like “you know, ultimately we’re a political organization, and we make decisions based on political advantage”

    When has the true, consistent, honest fight for women and equality ever given us political advantage? If we were in a position to grant political advantage then our fight would be over and misogyny would not have the voice we see it has now.

    We see an abandonment of real women’s plight by exactly those organizations that should be there to say, I don’t care WHO the woman is, or how attractive you think she is, or if she is “unqualified”, it is NOT right to vilify one of very few women who is a national leader, to wear “Palin is a C***” shirts, to liken her to Christian nymphos as done on Slate.com, to be silent when porn films parody her, to liken her to a pretty face, as Biden has, etc.

  • Kitkat

    zee, yttik, and nat

    I agree with you all and I am in agreement with zee on:

    What happened to “make abortion safe and rare?” Couldn’t that be a starting point for common ground? “Feminists for life” do believe in contraceptives. More common ground.

    I never felt that either party had this issue right. Both too extreme and I have never voted on this issue as a result.

  • Kitkat

    c a

    I agree. I think its important to have an organization like The New Agenda that is independent and therefore will retain credibility and power once we strengthen ourselves in numbers.

  • Monarch

    I e-mailed NOW that they were serving as groupies for the Dem party.

    This election has been a horrendous experience for women all across the country of both parties. Get rid of partisanship and focus on equal opportunity for all women. I fail to see how feminists (especially those of my generation like Steinem, Morgan, etc) refuse to recognize the achievements and accomplishments of Governor Palin.

  • samanthasmom

    When I was in college in the early 70’s, women like Steinem and Morgan were my heroines. Unfortunately, they moved from being activists to being impotent whiners. What’s the last great move forward for women? Title IX, maybe? Roe v. Wade? We’re talking early 70’s here. These women are like the grandmothers who are guests of honor at a family gathering. Highly respected but not very relevant anymore. Some grandmothers are highly supportive of their children and grandchildren and provide the spark that moves the future generations, and some are jealous because they know their time has come and gone. And some just belong on an ice flow. We have a “new agenda” to work on. We respect the hard work of those who have come before us. We’d like their support. If they can’t do it, then their silence would be appreciated. If they can’t refrain from bashing other women, then maybe a trip to Alaska should be in their future. I think I know of a feminist who could find us an ice flow or two.

  • delphyne

    Oh god, please don’t start talking about putting elderly feminists on ice flows SamanthasMom. That makes you as bad as the people launching sexist attacks on Palin.

    There seems to have been some kind of collective lunacy amongst many feminists this election, including second wavers, where they’ve forgotten their feminist principles in the rush to jump on the male-approved Palin-bashing bandwagon. Robin Morgan calling her stupid and calculating was the worst example in what has been a horrible litany of misogyny against her by feminists. Robin is my heroine and it hurts to see her attacking another woman in such a sexist manner. Palin is a Republican so there is plenty to hold against her just for that, but Morgan and so many others immediately went for sexism, the kind of sexism they have fought against for most of their lives. It’s heartbreaking.

    The only excuse I can find for them, is that a lot of white 2nd wavers have been attacked so much for being racists that maybe they think that coming out for Obama and against Palin is the only way that can be avoided this time around. I don’t have any excuses for the third wavers but then I never thought their movement had much to do with feminism or supporting women anyway and they’ve lived down to my expectations yet again. It just goes to show how much power men still wield over women that so many of us can be brought into line to support a man who clearly holds our sex in such contempt as Obama does, and to tear apart a woman who in a number of ways does live up to real feminist ideals even if she’s on the wrong side of the party political divide for many of us.

  • Zee

    http://www.womensmediacenter.com/ex/103108_a.html

    What Robin Morgan fails to realize here is that you don’t have to attack powerful women in a sexist manner to disagree with them.

    And after she gets through discrediting everyone else’s feminist credentials, maybe she can explain how using the tools of misogyny makes her feminist:

    “…hemorrhaging from her stab-him-when-he’s-down wounds as she hypes her 2012 campaign before his is formally pronounced dead. But any real intelligence remotely attached to Palin gleams in Tina Fey’s eye…”

    And then she turns from attack to fevered rant:

    ” ‘teaching the Democratic leadership a lesson’ brings us to the heart of it: Since when do feminists sacrifice women’s basic survival needs in order to impress men?”

    Um, talk about a few watts short. What “basic survival” needs are these? Roe v. Wade? In a world with birth control and morning after pills? Not to mention that neither side is going to chuck their prize wailing point, anyway, so Roe is safe.

    But we’ve gone from lip service that our goal is to keep abortions safe and rare to insisting that abortions are a… basic survival need…like oxygen and water?

    And even more bizarre…impress? That’s what we’re trying to do? Impress?? Men? As if there are no women in the Dem leadership? Does the woman think we’re flirting? For attention?

    Robin, please. See “If you can’t walk away from the table, you have no bargaining power” above. Succinct. True. And not insulting to anyone.

  • wbever

    It’s heartening to see that there are a number of New Agenda feminists who unlike ‘second wavers’ recognize there is a spectrum of feminism. Feminists For Life is one expression on the right. Only through dialogue within this spectrum will a broad-based, inclusive feminist movement emerge that will enable women to sit at the table as equals and not beggars.

    Instead, the leaders of the Second Wave (Steinem, Morgan, e.g.) expend their energy on enforcing their rather narrow formulation of how a feminist must think, act – and even dress. Otherwise, you’re expelled from the sorority. Thus, pro-choice = pro- abortion. I remember the late Wendy Wasserstein proclaiming on the Today Show and the NYT that if HRC truly was a feminist, she would have left WJC; otherwise, ‘what are you telling the next generation of women?’

    (I also think classism has played a large part in the caricaturing of Governor Palin [and Bill Clinton] but that’s another discussion.)

    This is an excellent essay. I’m so glad to have found this site.

  • djmm

    Old fashioned feminist here. To me, feminism is all about opportunity, choice and fairness (for men as well as women). I just voted for a female VP candidate for the second time in my life. As Violet at Reclusive Leftist said (paraphrased), there is no “later” to bring the Democratic Party to its senses. The time is now.

    Many of my Democratic friends — even those who witnessed caucuses being stolen — are voting for Senator Obama. They hope he will be better than they fear he will be. I can’t fault them for this hope but I am far less sanguine. His lack of experience, delight in mocking Senator Clinton (“Periodically, about once a month [just so we’d get it], …”), his associations with slum lords and others, his lack of personal ethics (he becomes Senator, his wife gets a 100% raise, the hospital which employs her gets earmarks from Senator Obama): it is too much for me to stomach.

    Artemis, I love this article and especially this: “If you can’t walk away from the table, you have no bargaining power. If you have no alternatives, you will get nothing but crumbs.”

    djmm

  • Ah, thank you for this blog. I found you thru Still4Hill. I have also started my own blog (unaplogeticfeminist) because of the huge amount of misogyny I keep seeing in democrats and women everywhere- especially against Sarah Palin. Of course the misogyny from men and the mainstream media doesn’t take me by surprise. I have written a post that Obama is NOT a feminist as well as a defense of Sarah Palin and Hillary on a couple of points. Everyone hates when I say Obama is not a feminist. And they hate when I point out that Sarah Palin is comparable to Bill Clinton, regarding the fact that they were both obscure governorns of small states with little experience and young child(ren) at home.

    I will add this blog to my blogroll! Thanks!

  • Laura

    My mother is a radical feminist (in her own words) who supports Gloria Steinem’s views of Sarah Palin. I am a hardworking 44 year old business owner who, for many years, has had to listen to women asking me if I’m the secretary. Many of them have been “feminists”. A few years ago it was harder for me to get female clients especially if I was competing against a man for the project. In contrast, men would accept my service over another man’s. My best, most dedicated clients are men and they had never asked me if I was the secretary. I believe men have progressed farther than women in the equality arena. What women have done to me has helped me to form the opinion that more women than men help to keep women in the background. What’s happening to Palin now solidifies it.

    I felt like I was alone in my thoughts about women. Also, I couldn’t believe that my mother, a feminist, would listen to and follow someone who misrepresented Sarah Palin’s achievements and statements. I forwarded an article to her that was written in 2007 showing Sarah’s achievements, but she saw no achievements. I responded to an email message that she had sent to me and others which was full of misrepresentations about Sarah quoted by Gloria Steinem, and in it I included information and links correcting the misrepresentations, but I had the same response from her as you did from your friends. Next, my mother sent me a Republican-bashing email, but I’m not a Republican. I’m an Independent. I was starting to wish that I had just kept my mouth shut, but I was also wondering how I was going to get my point across to her and then I came across your article, so I forwarded it to her.

    Thank you so much for voicing your thoughts. I no longer feel alone!

  • samanthasmom

    Delphyne,

    Second wave feminists were always accused of not having a sense of humor. Amy suggested leaving them by the side of the road. We could donate them to Goodwill. Whatever you do with things that are no longer useful to you would be fine with me. I just thought that maybe Sarah would be willing to help out since they’re getting in her way.

    Sam’s Mom 8^)

  • delphyne

    OK Samanthasmom, the underlying premise of that joke is sexist. One of the ways that sexism works against older women is by regarding them as useless or past their sell by date or disposable like rubbish. That seems to be what you are saying there.

    Morgan and the other second wavers (and the majority of third wavers who hate, hate, hate Palin – much more so than the second wavers but nobody is calling them rubbish or wanting to put them on the scrap heap) are wrong on this. That doesn’t make them worthless or deserving of being thrown away, it makes them wrong in this instance and deserving of criticism for their use of sexism.

    Sexism in jokes ain’t funny. Sorry to pick at it but I find it heartbreaking to see the way some feminists have gone after Palin but it still hurts to see sexism being used against them too. Is it possible for one woman to disagree with another without beating one another with the misogyny stick?

    We have a huge amount to be grateful for from people like Steinem and Morgan and others. They get it wrong once and suddenly they are worthless? I have to disagree.

  • samanthasmom

    In the past thirty years these women have contributed nothing of substance to the feminist cause. Now that we are on the brink of moving forward again, they step up to block the way. If they truly believe that Obama will be better for women, why didn’t NOW, the Women’s Media Center, and Ms. Magazine sponsor a debate where Obama and McCain could have answered questions about women’s issues put to them from women? They had the resources to do that. Instead, they have become part of the patriarchy themselves telling other women who is or isn’t a feminist based on the same criteria that they used thirty years ago- criteria that divided women then and continues to divide us now. These women were my heroines, and I respect what they did up to a point. However, their unwillingness to accept that their way to equality for all was not the way that was getting us there is one of the major reasons we have made so little progress. Their role now seems to convince us to wait until the men are willing to concede some of the power. There is no sign that will happen anytime soon if we wait for the Democrats to do it. Yes, elderly women are often marginalized, and these women have allowed themselves to approach senior citizenship sitting on their hands . They have marginalized themselves as far as the feminist cause goes. I’m sure they have lovely gardens.

  • Kitkat

    samanthasmom on November 2nd, 2008 5:48 pm

    Excellent points.

  • tedtheliberal

    It strikes me that you’re working awfully hard to prove that Sarah Palin isn’t so bad after all. She supports contraception. She has actively promoted the teaching of creationism. She hasn’t actively advanced an agenda restricting abortion rights.

    Okay, good enough. Does that mean hands off?

    Let’s say McCain is elected and he dies in office next May. In July, John Paul Stevens and Ruth Ginsberg retire from the Supreme Court. What sort of justices do you think the new president will appoint? I don’t know about you, but I have my opinions about that. And I’ll bet they’re the same ilk that just upheld that absurd law in South Dakota saying it’s okay to read women about to get an abortion lurid descriptions of what happens to the embryo or fetus during the procedure.

    You can go down the line on Palin on issue after issue. One of the things that bothers me about her is the same thing that bothers me every four years about Republicans. Come election season, they drag out the pick up trucks, the country bands, the NASCAR rallies, and all the populist imagery you can think of and pretend they represent working people. They drive every wedge they can on social issues, they spout anti-intellectual venom at anyone with a liberal perspective, and then when the election is over they pursue policies that favor the elites they have always been lackeys for. Palin is part of that group and part of that strategy.

    You can tell us all you want about how bad she isn’t. All I know is that she’s like any other hard right conservative–she knows how to speak the code for Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter.

    So if some of us on the left attack her for that, please think twice before you label us anti-feminist.

    I was distressed beyond belief when Hillary lost. But I’ll tell you something I have come to realize. Hillary and those of us who supported her can’t blame all the external forces for her defeat. No one is entitled to the presidency of the United States. When Obama ran, he ran to win. He played hardball, sometimes not always fair. But he beat us. Grow up about it.

  • yttik

    I wouldn’t toss aside Gloria Steinem or Robin Morgan anymore then I’d toss aside my own mother. But I believe this time they are all wrong. My mother supports their view of Palin, but I also remember my mother’s terrible choice in men. It was disturbing to get a phone call from her when she “discovered” Obama because I’ve heard those words before and they still make my stomach sink. My mother is a feminist, an admirer of Morgan and Steinem, but if she ever tells you some guy is dreamy, run for the nearest exit.

    I did and I voted McCain/Palin.

    I love you mom, you’re always relevant, but you’re not always right.

  • Amy Siskind

    We agree Yttik. Despite the fact that Robin’s piece takes me and a few others on directly (and not in a very nice way), we are giving her a pass.

    Our hope is that with the benefit of time and reflection, that she will understand that most effective way to advance women’s rights is to be INCLUSIVE of all women.

    Else, she’ll have to sit on the sidelines and watch this wave.

  • JAM

    March, You raise some very important points in this piece, the most important one is that sexism and misogyny still exist and the patriarchy is alive and well. Alas, voting for Palin does NOTHING, NADA to correct for this–McCain (the lead on this ticket) voted against the Lily Ledbetter Equal Pay Act; he has consistently voted against funding family planning and health insurance to cover the use of birth control; he voted against the Violance Against Women Act. Not to mention he thinks Roe v Wade should be overturned, thinks health care benefits should be taxed, and he is known to have an eruptive and abusive temper. These are issues that matter on our road to equality if we are using the system.

    One woman does not equal equality. BUT just because there is a woman running, does not mean one woman represents ALL women. Women are NOT a monolithic group.
    We should practice the motto of the Black Women’s Professional Caucaus: “One hand up and one hand down” as we work within the patriarchal system, and we also need to work out side of the patriarchy to achieve the change we dream of.

    I agree we need a Greek Chorus behind us–we are 51% of the population, afterall.

    And, btw, I voted for a female v.p. candidate on a major ticket many years ago (Geraldine Ferraro)–Palin is only a first among the repugs.

    And, while I may still long for a viable female presidential candidate and I am truly sorry that Hillary Clinton is not on the ballot, I am realistic enough to realize which candidate will do me and my sisters much much much more harm.

    But, I think March, you are opening a larger conversation: how do we achieve equality (or overturn the patriarchy).

  • Zee

    Oh, we have tedthebigman coming in to lecture us on growing up.
    Complete with pretending he was a Hillary supporter.

    ted, do you have a womb? What makes you think you can hold us hostage by our uteruses? Even if that were a relevant argument given the morning after pill, not to mention that neither side is going to give up the one thing they can whip up their bases with.

    Put your swimmies on, son, this wave is way too big for you.

  • Zee

    “Palin is part of that group and part of that strategy.
    You can tell us all you want about how bad she isn’t. All I know is that she’s like any other hard right conservative–she knows how to speak the code for Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter.
    So if some of us on the left attack her for that, please think twice before you label us anti-feminist.”

    Oh, and specifically, if you make up stuff, and excuse yourself by saying “all I know is that she’s like all the rest” when in fact Palin stood up to her own party, cleaned up her own party’s corruption, stood up to Dick Cheney, for crying out loud, and is hugely popular with both parties in Alaska, then what is left?

    The baseless attacks are either sexist on the face of it…or else a backhanded acknowledgment that Palin is a powerful woman who is a threat and must therefore be discredited by any means.

  • Kitkat

    JAM

    I don’t see how voting for a man (Obama) who pays the women on his staff 83 cents to the dollar he pays men is going to help women acheive equal pay. Actions speak louder than words and Obama’s actions indicate that he has a distain for women (e.g., “sweetie”). Moreover, why would anyone trust Obama to vote according to the DNC platform (e.g., FISA).

    My vote for McCain is a vote in protest to the DNC and its failure to stand up for Hillary Clinton during the primary. The DNC pays lip service to women’s issues and does not stand up for women.

    Palin is an added plus to the equation for me and as the first VP candidate on the RNC ticket, it is an historic event.

    I don’t know if your reference to republicans as “repugs” was intended to be a slight. I assume it was a typo. Name calling, which is popular among Obama supporters this election (something I was subjected to when I volunteered for Hillary Clinton in several states), is exactly that type of behavior that turns people off and prevents them from hearing your message. I am an independent, but I will stand up for the rights of all women (democrats, republicans, independents, non-voters).

  • Kitkat

    Why do some of the bloggers on this thread assume that all supporters of women’s rights (and commenters on this website) are liberal dems? We need to repost the article (blog post from a few weeks ago) about feminism not belonging to one political group.

  • Artemis March PhD

    I really appreciate your comments about my piece and the richness of the dialogue that has been taking place. It always so important and gratifying to hear from those to whose silence my words speak. I agree that class is an important part of the antagonistic liberal response to Palin, and that we need to find the the common ground beneath policy issues and differences. I also agree that academic feminists—but not all academics—have been the worst offenders and that careerism is a part of it. The Leftists and postmodernists have coopted the academy, usurped academic feminism, and led the charge on anti-feminist and anti-woman thinking. My own work can displace both modern and postmodern thinking, but I will need your support in making that happen.

    I do feel the need to say a word or two about the Second Wave. I was one of those pioneers making the most extraordinary and revolutionary shift in consciousness of the 20th century. It changed my life, as it did of every woman involved and millions who weren’t. Without the Second Wave, none of us would be where we are today. We must never forget that. We need to honor that.

    The Second Wave, however, is not a monolith. It had many strands of feminism, we had deep and very real differences with one another, and, in my view, the Left was always the problem and is still the problem. Those strands have been lumped together by an ignorant media into a single entity that became the basis for their caricature of the “second-wave feminist,” and writing off the entire Second Wave. Unfortunately, that is all many younger women hear, and too often, they join in the ridicule. To be drawn into that is suicidal for our collective future. We have a shared responsibility to understand our history and lineage, and change the conversation. The success of the emerging Fourth Wave will depend in part on our ability to listen, see, and understand each other across generations and other divisions that separate women—divisions fosterered by the Left and blamed on feminists.

    I’ve seen suggestions here (and elsewhere) that it’s time to throw the veterans off the cliff. Bad idea and not necessary. Some are part of the emerging Fourth Wave, others will come along, and other will be left behind. Trust the process.

  • tedtheliberal

    Zee–Sarah Palin coudn’t hit water if she fell out of a boat. You need neither a uterus nor a penis to have that opinion. It’s an opinion, period.

  • Ted,

    I’m not sure why you are on our site, but clearly there is not a place for you here. We are a women’s rights group. Please take your trash to another dumpster.

  • JAM

    Kitkat et al: If you all really want(ed) to support a woman, and send a message to the DNC then you should be supporting Cynthia McKinney and her running mate Rosa Clemente on the Green Ticket.
    A former Congresswoman, Mckinney has stood up to the powers that be…the Green Party supports women’s rights from the passage of CEDAW to women’s right to control their bodies (a concept that is key to the concept of “individual” ) to economic equality.

    p.s. for all the put downs of academic feminists: I am a practicing academic feminist and activist.

  • Amy Siskind

    JAM,

    There are not put downs of academic feminists. We are a big tent and welcome all. Several of our founders are academic feminists.

    The issue some of our members are speaking out against is the attacks coming from Second Wave Feminists – target being those who would speak out for and defend Gov. Palin.

    We believe the Fourth Wave will be an all inclusive wave of feminism. Certainly, that is the way forward.

  • Artemis March PhD

    JAM,

    We are all adults here. We don’t need to be told who we should vote for. Besides, my rorschach article has nothing to do with who to vote for or this election, so such comments are off topic. This piece is about the limitations of the strategies of liberal feminism, its failure to stand up for either of the female candidates against the avalanche of misogyny, the reason why a woman can’t deal with sexism solo, and the profoundly disturbing hysteria and woman-bashing behavior and vitriolic language of women who call themselves feminists.

  • jam

    <arch, I realize and appreciate the intent of your article, as I said before…I was just making the point that there were women to support/vote for other than Palin in response to others responding that they were voting for Palin…. ciao

  • jam

    oops should have proofread March’s name in the previous email, so sorry March…

  • Christie

    “Our only hope for the redemption of woman from the thralldom of dress lies in the belief that her hitherto limited sphere of activities has been so insufficient for her intellectual occupations that she has been forced to expend her thoughts in decorating her person, instead of enlarging her mind.” ~ Mercy B. Jackson, M.D. (1802–1877)

    My response:
    It is odd… even now a woman’s intellect is in question because of her dress. I was actually told by someone yesterday, “Maybe Palin should have considered a pants suit verses a skirt, she could have been taken more seriously.” REALLY????? The more and more I think about that, it almost has enraged me. Again this morning, reports from so called “insiders” to the McCain/Palin campaign are saying she was a “Diva.” Why couldn’t she be characterized as plain pissed off rather than a diva? I do not think people gave Sarah Palin the credit she was due. Yes she was not as acquainted with international issues as I personally would have liked… but, her record back in Alaska as a Governor and Mayor where amazing to me. The ascension from a mom who decided that because her school wasn’t as she wished for her child so she got involved to Governor of Alaska… my word!!! If only I had half her guts and her record speaks for itself… If only the media looked at the positive of her political career I wonder what people’s perception of her would be? No instead they chose to show beauty pageant pictures (which she entered to get scholarships to go to college because her family couldn’t afford to send her otherwise),pictures of a college age man looking up at her while she spoke, with a camera angle to it showing the man’s head right between her heals and bare legs because she was wearing a skirt and the worst the attacks about her motherhood and ability to serve as VP because she was a mother of 5. I am disgusted. Sexism which when I was growing up was almost never spoken of. My mother taught me that if I wanted to be something it took hard work. Never was it mentioned that because I just so happened to have a vagina rather than a penis, I would have to work much harder or that the way I dressed would show my intelligence level. I suppose my mother thought it was irrelevant to the times. In another news report this morning there was discussion about Michelle Obama’s dress she wore the other Tuesday night when her husband made his speech becoming the next president elect. When is America going to grow up? It isn’t what you wear it’s what is in your brain. So now that I have pondered the quote above by Mercy B. Jackson I think to myself… this now has changed a bit. Perception of ones intelligence is now based upon what she wears by people in general, not woman exchanging looks for intelligence as the quote refers to. Woman have a clear choice here. What are we going to do about this? It is our duty for our daughters, nieces, granddaughters and friend’s children to start standing up for ourselves. I personally am not the most ideal feminist as some would say out there because of my conservative views, stance on abortion and the fact that I have decided to stay home to raise my children verses being a carrier woman… but I am a feminist. I have the right to choose my destiny and I have which all females do. We have come along way, who would have thought that two woman in one election cycle would have been in the position they where in running for the two highest elected offices in our nation? I didn’t…Now that we know that we are intellectually able….we as woman need to band together and say what now is relevant to us that can change sexism. For one I think that we need to stop beating up on other woman for the choices they decided for themselves. Deciding ones fate is the beauty about feminism to me. Then I think we as a coalesced front need to say how we are going to be spoken about in general…so on and so on…. What is encouraging to me is that I have 3 sons to teach how to be woman supporters and a daughter to coach her to be anything she desires and not to accept anything less regardless what her points of views are and attire consists of.

  • Renee Wilkes

    It is a great day! Women can support other women.. The Feminists have made abortion and sexual freedom their rallying cry, when there are so many other issues women face. Thank you!
    Renee

  • Michelle

    “Sarah Palin is a rorschach for the Left and for feminists. She has exposed the boundaries and implicit rules for inclusion in their clubs, thereby sparking a much needed dialogue about what feminism is and can be.”

    Finally!…I finally have found a voice to articulate how I have been feeling these past couple of months. I have been disgusted by the smear campaign the MSM and “so-called” feminists have launched against Palin. These feminists – NOW, Gloria Steinhem, et al – have finally been exposed. They only represent equality for women who fit the liberal mold. If you’re successful, bright, intelligent, and energetic – but dare to be a conservative – they will rip you to shreds. Such a hateful, hateful group.

    Thank you so much for this wonderfully written article, Artemis. You have managed to clearly articulate everything I’ve been feeling. I’m still fired up over the blatant sexism that has occurred on both sides of the aisle – and it continues. But at least I know I’m not alone since finding this organization. Thank you.