Every day I get a google news alert, set to collect each news item that uses the term “feminist.” Since McCain tapped Palin for VP, my alerts have been really depressing. Sure, I knew that people regularly disparaged feminists as sexless baby killers (isn’t that a contradiction in terms, btw?), but it still startles me to see such characterizations pop up in my inbox every day, grouped under the heading “news.”
The straw woman feminist, that monolith man-hater, rears her ugly head in much of what I read. Here is one example from yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle:
The sexist tenor of the attacks on Palin is only furthering this process. Some of the worst comments have emanated from self-professed feminists who seem to resent the path Palin has taken in life, even as it parallels their own. The always independent-minded Camille Paglia is a notable exception, but by and large, the liberal, female establishment has turned on Palin . Never mind that Palin — with an amazing record of professional accomplishment, a happy marriage, and five beautiful children — is the personification of the feminist “women can have it all” ideal.
What all the attackers have in common is an almost pathological hatred and attendant desire to project upon Palin all of their worst fears, prejudices[.]
Where is the liberal female establishment? Can I find these women somewhere and invite them to dinner? Are they buying up temples across town, like the freemasons of yore, and just didn’t invite me?
Seriously, feminists that actually exist haven’t “turned on” Palin. All of the criticism I’ve seen has suggested that writers are simply livid that a woman like Palin is appropriating our name and our work to promote an essentially anti-feminist platform. To my mind, it’s like a white supremicist applying for membership in the NAACP: shockingly offensive.
May I point out too that feminists (academic feminists, at least) are the last people who will say that women can have it all? Indeed, feminist professors have spilled a lot of ink showing how women’s entry into the workforce has increased the amount of work that they do, as it hasn’t resulted in less housework or childcare hours.
Palin’s life has no parallel to my own, and I feel no connection to her. I’m the daughter of a brown-skinned immigrant single mother who calls herself a feminist because she is one. I know a lot of women like her, and frankly, none like Palin, or like the straw woman “liberal female establishment” evoked above.