Recently, Sarah Palin’s recent pronouncements of feminism have been attacked by quite a few major feminist writers. Their argument is basically that Sarah Palin works actively against women, which I guess is fair enough.
I do not like Sarah Palin myself - she's detrimental to this country. But I think that Sarah Palin is a feminist, because she enforces a long-held feminist tradition of hurting women.
None of the posts above consider s.e. smith’s awesome rebuttal on this very topic. If you haven’t, please go read it now. Here is my favorite part:
Feminism is for everyone, as bell hooks put it – and that includes bigots.
Liberal feminists are asking why Sarah Palin, a conservative feminist, should be allowed to call herself a feminist. They also ask why so many people want to distance themselves from feminism. Well, I think the parallels I’ve outlined here answer that question pretty thoroughly, and perhaps will open a few eyes. People who are outraged by Sarah Palin’s rhetoric and demand to know how she’s feminist now have an inkling of how people in marginalised classes who don’t identify with feminism feel. Because, let me tell you, many of us are surprised to see you calling yourselves feminists too.
Is Sarah Palin a feminist? Well, I’m afraid that I am not holding the Orb of Office this week and thus am not allowed to issue a formal ruling on who is (and isn’t) feminist. But I view feminists a lot like ducks. If an animal walks up to me and says ‘hey, what’s up, I’m a duck,’ it’s a fucking duck, ok, people?
I define feminism as working against racism, cissexism, heterosexism, ableism, ageism, sizism, colonialism, sexism, and all those other innumerable implications of the kyriarchy.
And yeah, Sarah Palin doesn’t live up to that.
But you know what? Neither does the fucking feminist movement. Neither do I.
So my definition includes the problems, the baggage, the failures of this crucial movement. I am subject to these failures, and I am part of them. They are inextricable from feminism, and trying to bar Sarah Palin dismisses our baggage, our failure, when we should own it and admit that she is a feminist who hurts women, like many feminists, like every feminist.
We don’t do it all in the same ways, on the same stage, at the same level. Sarah Palin is hurting women on a more global level than I am when I fuck up, but privilege is a necessary and sufficient condition for hurting people (which includes women) and she is just a very famous example of a well-honored and still-continuing feminist tradition.
She is a feminist because she identifies as one. Trying to pretend that she isn't is trying to pretend that the movement's history of hurting women who are not white, not cis, not rich, not het, not able, not monogamous, not right. Because like Sarah Palin none of us are right, and all of us are wrong. We are trying to bar her because we see that she is like us, that she reflects the worst of us. But she is like us, and we are like her. Feminists, all.*
We, feminists, work actively against the rights of women because we use “lame” regularly, or create bills that restrict reproductive freedom, or appropriate and erase the work of WOC, or play host to ableism, or deny trans folks humanity. And I don’t see anyone getting up in arms about why Amanda Marcotte or Mary Daly aren’t feminists. Instead, I see women questioning feminism, and often abandoning or rejecting it.**
Maybe the question to ask isn’t “Why isn’t Sarah Palin a feminist?” Maybe it’s “Why does Sarah Palin want to be a feminist?”
*Though I use the plural first person here, I want to note that I know that you, reader, are not necessarily a feminist, and may have abandoned the movement for these very very valid reasons.