Friday, September 5, 2008

Sarah Palin: the anti-feminist?

I need to stop focusing on politics because it's making me go crazy, but all this debate about Sarah Palin as VP pick representing a step forward for women (feminism, even) makes me want to speak out.

Personally, I don't think it does. The purpose of feminism is to ensure equality between the sexes. That is, to remove the certain privilege one has by virtue of their gender. We currently live and have only lived in a society where men have the upper hand, but the reverse situation is not the goal. Women are not hoping to "supercede" the reign of man, but to create a level-playing field where their reproductive organs have no bearing on their professional abilities. This is similarly the aim of other civil rights movements focused around race.

With that being said, do you think Sarah Palin would have been chosen for Vice President had she been male? (Of course not!) Given her shortlist of political experience, is there any question about that fact? McCain was obviously pandering to the females when he picked her, but I'm still unsure why he didn't pick a more qualified female senator or governor.

So, even though something GOOD is happening for women (increased political visibility), the female in question is still being reduced to her most base value: her vagina. She isn't being treated like a man. She's getting special treatment precisely BECAUSE she's a woman. Just because her gender is advantageous in this situation doesn't mean it's a "feminist" move. The true point of feminism is gender equality.

And this doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of why her policies are bad for women. I'd rather have a man advancing women's reproductive rights than a woman taking them away. Female does not automatically equal feminist. What do you think?


Brandi said...

I don't understand the whole thing about her being in that "Feminists for Life" group..I mean she's against abortion right? And I read somewhere else that the group as a whole is very against women. I don't understand...isn't all this the opposite of feminism?

I know you are an Obama supporter, but I just don't believe in either side. It's all pretty-sounding rhetoric, staged tripe to get votes. I mean, what's really going to change? That's such an easy word to tout and throw out there over and over. What ever does? All I care about is that my right to decide what I do with my fetus stays in tact, so if the Obama camp supports that and the McCain camp is going to actively try and repeal that right, then there ya go. But overall, what's going to change really? Probably not much.

allison said...

Oh Brandi, I totally agree. I too am disillusioned about politics. It's not that I think Obama will really CHANGE the country in a dramatic way. I know he's probably just like every other politician. But what gets me is he's run almost a spotless campaign. He might be corrupt behind the scenes, but so far, I haven't seen it. With all the lobbying going on at the DNC and RNC (companies with relevant laws they want passed or rejected throw lavish parties for the congresspeople responsible for those laws), an earnest politican is hard to find. He's been so very respectful towards Hillary and now Palin, and part of me idealistically hopes he's just as good as he seems.

In all reality, he's probably a decent guy, but not as altruistic or radically different as he pretends to be. But his policies mostly reflect my views, and he has this charisma (with his oratory skills and ideas for the country) that really gets me. We have to move forward in baby steps! I fear I sound like one of those "I'm gonna vote for George Bush cause, though he's an ex-alcoholic, he seems like a good guy to have a beer with!", which is a terrible way to pick presidents, but I really love Obama's policy positions and his past work with Constitutional Law. That, and there's no way I'd ever vote for McCain. He doesn't even remember his stances on reproductive rights (when asked how he felt about something involving contraception or abortion, he said he'd have to "consult his staff" for his position on it!). But McCain is wholly against abortion 100% and wants to overturn Roe v. Wade. He and Palin will NEVER get my vote.

Unfortunately, the Democratic party is divided between more moderate, working class people and that uber-liberal "intellectual elite". The Democratic party has to appeal to those moderates and independents, but the voice reflected in the blogosphere (at least, the one I see) is of the second kind: the one that cares mostly about social issues and gets annoyed with the centrist appeals. I certainly don't envy politicians campaigning.

And that Feminists for Life title is a misnomer. It sounds like "feminists 4eva!" but what it means is "pro-life feminists". They don't believe in abortion EVER, not even in cases of rape. They're actually so radical that they largely oppose contraception as well.

Anonymous said...

You are right that the purpose of feminism is to ensure equality between the sexes, assuming that you mean this in reference to opportunities, whether occupational, social, or otherwise. But, it seems that the de facto goal of many feminists is exactly what you specify that it is not, that they (some feminists) hope to supercede the position of men. In my experience, the latter has been the case more than the former. Also, it is interesting to me that you consider opposition to the use of contraception as "radical." The Catholic Church maintains this idea and, according to wikipedia, it represents 1/6 of the world's population. Yes, again, that 1/6 clearly does not abide in practice, but less than 50 years ago, almost every Christian would have said that contraception was morally illicit, which would double that population. It seems that the more radical trend is that 1 out of 3 people on earth would completely change their own ideas about reproductive freedom in 50 years, a relatively insignificant amount of time in the history of human religious belief.

allison said...

I don't think the average feminist has "supercede men" on her list of goals to accomplish. I think the problem is that, in theory, we want people to be equal, but in practice, equality amongst the sexes and races is far from a reality. And yes, when I say equal, I'm talking about equality of opportunity.

Because rich white men have had such a historical monopoly on power and thus a long head start, it's only fair to give women/black people/other minorities an extra "push" so that the opportunity gap can be closed. Otherwise, if we just stop it from widening, it will simply remain static: not growing, but still there.

I don't know how best to implement these types of things, but I don't trust the market. The free market is selfish. I'd like a little humanity with my consumption, thanks.

And I still think opposition to contraception is radical. Yes, the change happened quickly, and the Catholic Church's position is against it, but I know plenty of Catholics. I also know plenty of pro-life Republicans. They're all on birth control. When people say that contraception equals abortion when it is either a barrier method (preventing sperm from entering the vagina) or a hormonal method (preventing ovulation), they are effectively declaring baby-killing without any moment of conception. If the "spilling of a man's seed" without intent to impregnate is considered abortion, men have been killing lots of babies in their sleep with all those wet dreams. And if God invented wet dreams, they must be a-okay!

allison said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
allison said...

Ew, spelling mistakes! I'm anal.

Anyway, let me clarify where I was going with the first half of my comment. In order to close the opportunity gap, these marginalized groups require what some would call an unfair advantage. Special treatment. I think there is a lot of white resentment from poorer white folks who are equally desperate and qualified for jobs but get passed over to fill some kind of quota. This is obviously a natural reaction, and I don't know how to alleviate this. It's also impossible to decide whether a black and a white person from the same socioeconomic status have experienced the same type of hardship in life, because the black person potentially experienced more institutional and personal racism. Depending on the area, this could conversely be true for the white person as well, but they at least have history on their side. How do you quantify these factors when deciding whether a person should get special treatment (like affirmative action)?

But with feminists in particular, people love to say they hate men. Actually, male feminists are a rapidly growing contingent, and you'd be hard pressed to find a third wave feminist who thinks men are the opposition. It's all about the vague notion of "sex-positivity" now, and for heterosexual women, men are obviously needed. The problem is misogyny, which is still a huge presence in mainstream society, and I think the anger at being constantly objectified can come out in not-so-productive ways, like attributing one man's actions to his entire sex. I don't know of any efforts by feminists to change policy to devalue men. Any vitriol is out of frustration rather than a superiority complex, trust me.

Brandi said...

OMG, I totally have been interpreting it as "feminists 4eva" (are you recalling the same "Fear" references I am there? LOL). I feel dumb.

I have a habit of thinking way too far out of the box on everyday things like that. One time we were getting ice cream with friends, and when Girl X ordered an "extra hot fudge" sunday, I thought she wanted the fudge, like, extra warm.

Another time we were at the mall and we walked by some juicy couture pants or something tacky with writing on the butt, but the writing was broken in the middle by the seam, and I read it as *little girl voice* "Hot Tie?" Ronnie still remembers this. *cough cough*