Monday, May 31, 2010

The F-Bomb

In today's anti-feminist, anti-empowerment of women climate, it can take a lot for a woman to admit that she's a feminist. However, can we feminists in clear conscience tell a woman who claims to be a feminist that she is not?

Yes.

Reminder:
Feminism. noun--
1. the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
2. (sometimes initial capital letter) an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women.

Or:

Feminism is the belief that women and girls should be free from any form of discrimination or degradation.

Although there are infinite types of feminists with infinite types of beliefs, we can say for certain, that some people are not feminists. Sarah Palin, is not a feminist.

I sighed with relief when I read Jessica Valenti's article on "The Fake Feminism of Sarah Palin." In the past few days since Palin spoke at an anti-abortion event and called herself a feminist several times, many online bloggers have commended her for using the word when even more liberal, actual feminists won't call themselves feminists. They saw this as a move that could create a more inclusive feminism, one that would attract even more conservative women who shied away from the movement previously.

However, Valenti points out, you can't be a feminist if you are anti-woman. Palin has a clear track record that has been harmful to the progress of women's rights, does nothing to advance the rights of mothers (example: she cut funding for a shelter for teenage moms in Alaska), and is generally ignorant of what it means to be a feminist.

I will clarify: You can be pro-life and a feminist. However, Palin's words at the anti-abortion event are meant to be accepted by a crowd of women unfamiliar with feminism. We, however, know better. In invoking the first wave feminists (American suffragists), Palin is ignoring the 80+ years of feminism that happened after women won the vote, as Valenti points out. It's a slap in the face to us women who are actively interested in and fighting for equality for everyone.

"So Palin's 'feminism' isn't just co-opting the language of the feminist movement, it's deliberately misrepresenting real feminism to distract from the fact that she supports policies that limit women's rights."

Because of this, we, who know better, should realize that we have the responsibility to truly represent feminism and let others know the truth. A female politician does not mean a feminist politician, and we should remember that one of the first steps in creating a better, more equal word, is letting people know that we are feminists, we are sane, and we are here to stay.

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