Sarah Palin on feminist issues

Monday, September 15th, 2008 · 59 Comments »

Governor Sarah Palin and daughter Piper at Riverbend Elementary School in Juneau.

Sarah Palin calls herself a “pro-life feminist.” Basically, that’s feminism minus abortion rights.

Obviously that puts her at odds with modern American feminism on a crucial issue. But to hear tell from the many feminist writers now publishing furious editorials, Sarah Palin isn’t just out of step on that one issue. She is, according to them, the antithesis of everything feminism means.


I thought I’d start a collection of Palin’s own statements on feminist issues. I post these for now without comment; that’ll come later. From what I can tell, the feminist writers who are attacking Palin are doing so with an astonishing disregard for the truth. I’m still trying to sort out why.

Sarah Palin on combining motherhood with a career: “To any critics who say a woman can’t think and work and carry a baby at the same time, I’d just like to escort that Neanderthal back to the cave.”

Sarah Palin on her ability to govern Alaska while raising children: “My answer would always be … that I’m going to do the job just as well as any male governor who had kids, you know, I think we can handle this.”

Sarah Palin on raising her children to embrace gender equality: “Because I have both boys and girls I have a greater respect for equality and making sure that gender is not an issue and that everyone is treated equally.”

Sarah Palin on being a “pro-life feminist”: “I believe in the strength and the power of women, and the potential of every human life.”

Sarah Palin on contraception and sex education: “I’m pro-contraception, and I think kids who may not hear about it at home should hear about it in other avenues. So I am not anti-contraception. But, yeah, abstinence is another alternative that should be discussed with kids. I don’t have a problem with that. That doesn’t scare me, so it’s something I would support also.”

Sarah Palin on whether she would support an abortion ban in Alaska if Roe v. Wade were overturned: “It would be up to the people of Alaska to discuss and decide how we would like our society to reflect our values.”

Sarah Palin on a woman president and endorsing McCain instead of Hillary (March 2008): “But I have to admit a little bit of guilt there for not being able to jump on Hillary’s bandwagon, because I would so love to see a woman president. I think our nation is overdue there. So, I’ve said along, ‘Heck yeah, America’s ready for a woman president.’”

Sarah Palin on being the first female governor of Alaska: “I’m the first female governor in Alaska, so that’s brought with it kind of a whole new chapter in Alaska’s life. Like my husband — up here they refer to him as the ‘first dude,’ not the first gentleman. And Todd… A whole new chapter here when Todd is asked to do things like — and he graciously complies and he has a good time doing it — hosting, as he did a couple of weeks ago down in Juneau, our capital city, the former first ladies tea party. And he does just great at things like that, as well as working in oil fields, with snow machines and in commercial fishing. That’s a dynamic here that’s of interest to others.”

Sarah Palin on Title IX, sports, and growing up with gender equality: “You know I grew up with Title IX, and sports were so big, and in my upbringing very instrumental in shaping my character and a need to compete and really to win. So because of a very athletic background and growing up in a family, a busy large family, where gender never was really an issue there. My dad expected us to be back there chopping wood and snowmachining with the rest of them, hunting and fishing and doing all those things that are quite Alaskan.”

Sarah Palin on sports, scholarships, and the beauty pageant: “Graduating high school in 1982 there weren’t a whole lot of high-school athletes, females going on to college to play sports yet. That’s what I was looking for, a scholarship in athletics. I didn’t get one, the next best thing would be the Miss America scholarship pageant where at least you had to show that you had a talent. I played the flute and was really into music so, you know I won a couple of titles there, and it paid tuition through four, five years of college. So, that was OK, it wasn’t really my thing, I was never really comfortable with it, but it paid for some college, though.”

Sarah Palin on the challenge for Hillary and other women candidates to appear “tough”: “I recognize that Hillary seems to be trying real hard to be tough, but I say, more power to her. I think she’s had to do that. It’s unfortunate that she’s had to do that, but she comes across to me as tough, capable. I can respect that in her, that she is that tough, capable and experienced and all that….I recognize that’s what she’s trying to do and I think it’s unfortunate that maybe a woman candidate feels that she has to go there. You don’t see male candidates doing that.”

Sarah Palin on dealing with the double standard applied to women candidates: “Fair or unfair—and I do think that it’s a more concentrated criticism that Hillary gets on so many fronts; I think that’s unfortunate. But fair or unfair, I think she does herself a disservice to even mention it, really. You have to plow through that and know what you’re getting into. I say this with all due respect to Hillary Clinton and to her experience and to her passion for changing the status quo. But when I hear a statement like that coming from a women candidate with any kind of perceived whine about that excess criticism or a sharper microscope put on her, I think, man, that doesn’t do us any good. Women in politics, women in general wanting to progress this country, I don’t think it bodes well for her, a statement like that. Because, again, fair or not fair it is there. I think it’s reality and it’s a given, people just accept that she’s going to be under a sharper microscope. So be it. Work harder, prove to yourself to an even greater degree that you’re capable, that you’re going to be the best candidate.”

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59 Responses to “Sarah Palin on feminist issues”

  1. atheist woman says:

    “Sarah Palin on sports, scholarships, and the beauty pageant: “Graduating high school in 1982 there weren’t a whole lot of high-school athletes, females going on to college to play sports yet. That’s what I was looking for, a scholarship in athletics. I didn’t get one, the next best thing would be the Miss America scholarship pageant where at least you had to show that you had a talent. I played the flute and was really into music so, you know I won a couple of titles there, and it paid tuition through four, five years of college. So, that was OK, it wasn’t really my thing, I was never really comfortable with it, but it paid for some college, though.””

    And they have the audacity to call her a ‘beauty queen’ and leak all those photos and ugh.

  2. the15th says:

    Violet, you are about the only one who gets it. I’ve taken a break from most of the big feminist blogs over this.

  3. kenoshaMarge says:

    I agree with you completely Dr. Socks. I wasn’t aware until recently that you had to be a “liberal” to be a feminist. I thought you have to be a female and believe that you had the right to be an equal. Silly me.

  4. PhilosopherP says:

    I think this is more of a generational difference within feminism. I know I often wish I could vote Obama/Palin… mostly on generational lines.

  5. Violet says:

    What are you thinking when you say “generational difference”? I think I would understand your first sentence better without your second sentence, which confuses me.

  6. creeper says:

    Excellent diary, right up to the last paragraph. I wonder how long Palin is going to be able to remain silent about the misogynistic treatment of female candidates by the media.

    It’s there for anyone to see. Simply ignoring it won’t make it go away.

  7. Alikatze says:

    Thanks, Violet, for posting these quotes – I plan to forward them to my mother as she is rabidly anti-Palin, to the point of sending me forwarded hate-mail about her. And I thought my mom was a feminist!!! :

  8. quixote says:

    Well, the last paragraph, where she says in effect that discrimination is “just the way it is” and don’t make anyone uncomfortable by mentioning it . . . that’s more or less the antithesis of feminism.

    However . . .

    It’s interesting that she manages to acknowledge Hillary’s strength and accomplishments, which Obama can’t seem to squeeze out of himself no matter what. And she manages to do it graciously, without patronizing, which he’s incapable of too.

    There’s much talk of Presidential qualifications. We’ve seen what one arrogant snot can do for US standing in the world. Maybe the ability to talk to people without sneering is not such a minor matter.

  9. Violet says:

    Well, the last paragraph, where she says in effect that discrimination is “just the way it is” and don’t make anyone uncomfortable by mentioning it . . . that’s more or less the antithesis of feminism.

    I don’t think that’s what she’s saying. I think she’s saying that it’s counterproductive for a woman to complain of sexism, since it will be perceived as “whining.”

    And in fact that’s generally how it IS perceived, though I disagree that that’s a reason not to bring it up. I think we should bring it up, and without hesitation.

    But regardless of whether you agree or not, the thing is, no woman has ever had her feminist credentials challenged for saying what Palin says here. Quite a few women who are currently attacking Palin are also on record as criticizing Clinton for complaining of sexism, in terms that aren’t nearly as generous as Palin’s. They’ll read this quote and a shudder of self-recognition will go through them. (And then they’ll go right back to lying and smearing Palin, I’m sure.)

  10. Elise says:

    Thanks for this great round-up. I’m glad to see the full Palin comment on Hillary (I kept hearing “Palin called Clinton a whiner”) – context is always so enlightening. I think Palin is right: there was more concentrated criticism (what a gentle phrase for misogyny) directed at Clinton but complaining about it doesn’t do any good (it actually seems to do harm). At the same time, creeper is right: ignoring it won’t make it go away. Perhaps if enough women end up not voting for the Democrats and make it very clear misogyny was the reason, attention will be paid.

    One thing I think Palin was wrong about. As I remember it, Hillary Clinton herself was not complaining about sexism in March of 2008. Other people who saw what was going on did, but I don’t remember that she herself did. I could be mistaken, of course.

  11. Ciccina says:

    Excellent post, Violet. I’m so glad you did this! I’ll be cross-posting and forwarding it. But as for this….

    They’ll read this quote and a shudder of self-recognition will go through them.

    … sadly, I think not. Many of them are far beyond self-awareness.

    Additional bits:

    from the dreadful ABC News….

    In the third and final exclusive interview with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, ABC News’ Charles Gibson asked the Republican vice presidential candidate if Barack Obama should have picked Hillary Clinton as his running mate.

    “I think he’s regretting not picking her now, I do. What, what determination, and grit, and even grace through some tough shots that were fired her way, she handled those well,” Palin said.

    And from the NY Times, which just had to do an article on Palin’s hair (but it turned out to be interesting, so go figure)..

    “When she became governor,” Mrs. Steele said, “she still came to my small salon in my small town to get her hair done, instead of Anchorage, the big city” — an hour’s drive away. Mrs. Steele gave birth to her third child and began bringing the baby to the Beehive [the salon she owns]. When Ms. Palin asked how she was doing, Mrs. Steele burst into tears, overwhelmed by competing needs.

    “Sarah said: ‘If you love what you do, if you were a stay-at-home mom, a part of you would miss what you love. And if you were at work, you’d miss your kids,’ ” she recalled. Ms. Palin told her “not to make excuses for why I am not a stay-at-home mom or have my kids at the shop.”

    When Mrs. Steele expressed frustration with her industry, Ms. Palin told her to stop complaining and “run for something!”

    [the article also has this quote, which made me smile]

    When Mrs. Steele heard that Ms. Palin was running for governor, Mrs. Steele called her: “Let’s get you all picked up for campaigning!”

    Its nice when women can be supportive of each other.

    From what I’ve read, it sounds like Palin views “complaining” as self-defeating behavior that implicitly accepts the limitations placed on the complainee, and that her generalized response is ‘just keep going, exceed expectations and thus prove the limitations invalid.’ This rubs against my lit-crit feminist theory inclinations, where the emphasis is on the critique rather than on the implementation of corrective measures. But its an apples and oranges kind of thing.

    In the political sphere, ideally there would be a two-pronged response to sexism leveled at a candidate. The candidate who stays above the fray (and doesn’t “lower herself to her opponent’s level”), and the surrogates, interest groups and thought leaders who take the charges head on. In Hillary’s case, she stayed dignified and didn’t – in my opinion – complain, and Bill did the right thing in sticking up for her. Its everyone else that fell down on the job. The party, interest groups and influentials didn’t do their part to beat back sexism, and the MSM trivialized the issue, so Hillary (and Bill) were left out there to dangle and be picked on.

    As usual.

  12. Sis says:

    I think some people just don’t complain or “cry” in public. I don’t read her saying she never does. I bet she and her family talk things out, have some things to say. But she does have a public personae to keep up.

    Great story about her hairdresser. Those are the women who see themselves in Palin. She emboldens their dreams, even if it’s just to keep her business solvent, and continue doing what strengthens her. You know, the men (and the women who unfortunately, still have to behave like faux-men to bonk their heads on that celing) who run newspapers, banks, universities, will never go for on-site daycares. Women like this hairdresser, she calls the shots on her life. Good for her. More women should go into small business, hairdressing, gardening, catering whatever; bring the kids, the dog, and dad to work with you, if needed. Make it a female workplace. Merde I just had my hair cut (the only place within walking distance) where the GUY who owns it calls himself HairGod. On his license plate. Ptuwee!

    I wish someone had talked to me like Sarah talked to this woman. I’d not be making 1/10 of what the guy who techs my rig makes, him with about eight years less education.

  13. Sis says:

    Oh yeh and I’d like to point out something about Sarah Palin which I think is integral to her success. *She’s an athlete. No kidding, more women need to learn to do something physical, go hard, be competitive, get a trainer, learn to focus, not just go to the gym. Be an athlete. That’s how Palin learned it. That’s how you learn it, how your daughters will learn it.

  14. Sis says:

    Sorry. I’ll have to change my addy. To “Mom”.

    (But it’s TRUE! Be an athlete.)

  15. georgiapeach says:

    The “Palin called Hillary a whiner” never had any effect on me. What I heard her saying was that if Hillary complained about sexist treatment, it would be perceived as whining. Sure enough, every time the media was called on it’s behavior, they turned it into a “Is Hillary whining?” story. Palin has an advantage on that front. She doesn’t have to complain about or even point out the media’s treatment of her. Her party has leapt to her defense at every turn.

  16. Happenstance says:

    Of course, when Obama complains about “unfairness” (you know–when some member of the media fails to swoon or faint in his presence) he’s just “speaking truth to power.”

    Actually, you don’t have to be female to be feminist, no more than you have to gay or black to fight for civil rights. It’s a social and political movement, not an exclusionary clique.

  17. AM says:

    I’m an old lefty feminist disgusted with the ‘official feminists’ slamming of Sarah Palin.

    While writing a comment somewhere a few days ago, in reaction to a Gloria Steinem hit piece on Governor Palin, the phrase ‘genteel cul-de-sac’ came to me, to describe what Ms. Steinem and Ms. Magazine have become–and I include in that description the academic feminists who’ve been adding their voices to Sarah-hating.

    Today the WSJ ran this piece in rebuttal:

    Why Feminists Hate Sarah Palin
    September 15, 2008; Page A21

    Left-wing feminists have a hard time dealing with strong, successful conservative women in politics such as Margaret Thatcher. Sarah Palin seems to have truly unhinged more than a few, eliciting a stream of vicious, often misogynist invective.

    On last week, Cintra Wilson branded her a “Christian Stepford Wife” and a “Republican blow-up doll.” Wendy Doniger, religion professor at the University of Chicago Divinity School, added on the Washington Post blog, “Her greatest hypocrisy is in her pretense that she is a woman.”

    You’d think that, whether or not they agree with her politics, feminists would at least applaud Mrs. Palin as a living example of one of their core principles: a woman’s right to have a career and a family. Yet some feminists unabashedly suggest that her decision to seek the vice presidency makes her a bad and selfish mother. Others argue that she is bad for working mothers because she’s just too good at having it all.

    In the Boston Globe on Friday, columnist Ellen Goodman frets that Mrs. Palin is a “supermom” whose supporters “think a woman can have it all as long as she can do it all . . . by herself.” In fact, Sarah Palin is doing it with the help of her husband Todd, who is currently on leave from his job as an oil worker. But Ms. Goodman’s problem is that “she doesn’t need anything from anyone outside the family. She isn’t lobbying for, say, maternity leave, equal pay, or universal pre-K.”

    This also galls Katherine Marsh, writing in the latest issue of The New Republic. Mrs. Palin admits to having “an incredible support system — a husband with flexible jobs rather than a competing career . . . and a host of nearby grandparents, aunts, and uncles.” Yet, Ms. Marsh charges, she does not endorse government policies to help less-advantaged working mothers — for instance, by promoting day-care centers.

    Mrs. Palin’s marriage actually makes her a terrific role model. One of the best choices a woman can make if she wants a career and a family is to pick a partner who will be able to take on equal or primary responsibility for child-rearing. Our culture still harbors a lingering perception that such men are less than manly — and who better to smash that stereotype than “First Dude” Todd Palin?

    Nevertheless, when Sarah Palin offered a tribute to her husband in her Republican National Convention speech, New York Times columnist Judith Warner read this as a message that she is “subordinate to a great man.” Perhaps the message was a brilliant reversal of the old saw that behind every man is a great woman: Here, the great woman is out in front and the great man provides the support. Isn’t that real feminism?

    Not to Ms. Marsh, who insists that feminism must demand support for women from the government. In this worldview, advocating more federal subsidies for institutional day care is pro-woman; advocating tax breaks or regulatory reform that would help home-based care providers — preferred by most working parents — is not. Trying to legislate away the gender gap in earnings (which no self-respecting economist today blames primarily on discrimination) is feminist. Expanding opportunities for part-time and flexible jobs is “the Republican Party line.”

    I disagree with Sarah Palin on a number of issues, including abortion rights. But when the feminist establishment treats not only pro-life feminism but small-government, individualist feminism as heresy, it writes off multitudes of women.

    Of course, being a feminist role model is not part of the vice president’s job description, and there are legitimate questions about Mrs. Palin’s qualifications. And yet, like millions of American women — and men — I find her can-do feminism infinitely more liberated than the what-can-the-government-do-for-me brand espoused by the sisterhood.

    I’m the oldest of 10 children, (first generation Irish Catholic) and have 38 nieces and nephews, and 20+ grandnieces and nephews, and still counting. I’m the lone activist feminist dyke among them and have had many agreeable conversions about these things with them over the decades. They all ascribe to Palin style feminism.

    Confronting the ‘put women on trial’ feminists who appear to have contempt for women like Sarah Palin and have lifted nary a finger to fight Hillary hatred is long overdue.

    (Okay, keep blood pressure under control.) I’m having total hip replacement surgery at 7:30 AM tomorrow, so this is goodbye for now, probably won’t be at a computer for days, but will be missing you all!

  18. AM says:

    Oops: my comment now in moderation doesn’t look the way it did on my computer. I didn’t mean for the last paragraph of the Cathy Young article to be so big and bold. And I put dotted lines after it, because the next paragraph, beginning with “I’m the oldest…” is me talking. Sorry.

  19. Violet says:

    AM, I re-formatted your comment so it looks fine now.

    Good luck with the surgery tomorrow! I’ll be thinking about you. Hope everything goes great and you recover quickly.

  20. Elise says:

    AM – If you don’t mind good wishes from a total stranger, you’ve got mine. I’ve had both hips replaced in the last year and a half (I’m in my mid-50s, had ostreonecrosis). The surgery was miserable but it’s much, much more than worth it to feel so much better. Good luck tomorrow and I wish you a speedy recovery and a quick return to fighting the good fight.

  21. AM says:

    Violet, thanks and thanks.

  22. Daniel M. says:

    I’ve always been annoyed with the media’s accusing Palin of calling Hillary a whiner. They even put the word “whining” in quotes and leave out the fact that it was the whining that was perceived and the excess criticism that was real.

    I think Palin wasn’t aware at the time of just how hard the media could go after someone. Even so, she knows that she has to personally stay above the fray and let the campaign and her party fight for her. Hillary, on the other hand, was abandoned by her party.

    And even when Palin herself tries to stay above it, she still gets called a whiner.

  23. RKMK says:

    Thanks for this Violet; I keep seeing facebook status updates like “Sarah Palin is batshit crazy!” and “Sarah Palin scares the shit out of me!” So much so, that I knew it had to be hyperbole, rooted in the misogyny of our culture. From the above quotes, Palin seems rather down-to-earth, though I don’t agree with her about everything – and that quote about Alaska and Roe v. Wade seems like a careful dodge.

  24. libbygurl says:

    Thanks for this, Violet! I have cross-posted it at, in the Women’s Movement forum.

    Seems these academic feminists haven’t a clue about the real life issues that everyday American women in Middle America deal with, and Sarah Palin has simply succeeded at both work and family by dint of intelligence and hard work, despite not having the requisite Ivy League education and background these feminists seem to prefer. Sarah Palin reminds one of the American frontierswomen – isn’t that an American icon to be proud of? Or perhaps, there’s just too much ‘working with one’s hands’ in Sarah Palin’s story for these metropolitan liberals/feminists to be accepted into the fold?

  25. Not Your sweetie says:

    Thanks for this! Bookmarking for frequent use – i am sure.

  26. AM says:

    Elise, thank you for your good wishes, they are completely welcome. This is my second one too (lugging boxes of books around for 30+ years).

  27. tinfoil hattie says:

    But fair or unfair, I think she does herself a disservice to even mention it, really. You have to plow through that and know what you’re getting into.

    This is the comment I disagree with completely. First, Hillary Clinton barely mentioned her treatment by the media and the public until after she suspended her campaign, and second, it’s gross victim-blaming. All well and good for Gov. Palin to pretend she got where she is by just plowing through sexism. Her way was paved by curmudgeonly old second-wavers like me.

    The rest of the list — excellent examples.

    Now I’m sure you’re all breathing easier since I put in my $.02! :-)

  28. Yanni Znaio says:

    Ms. Violet:

    You rock, ma’am.

    Let them be hoist with their own petards.

    (I’ll bet you know this already, but the preceding phrase is not only a pun but a fart joke as well. Obscure literature lesson off.)

  29. Queen1 says:

    Very nicely written. I appreciate your views on feminism and abortion. I am a conservative blogger, so I am biased, but I believe a woman can be a feminist and pro-life. We have to define feminism more broadly than just the abortion issue.

    I agree with Palin about Hillary, but I find it discouraging that we have to say to ourselves, “Just swallow it and move on. Don’t whine.” Obama has certainly been accepted despite whining about racism every time someone criticizes him. Why don’t we tell him to shut up and get on with it? I think there is a double standard here–it’s ok to be sexist and in fact a woman will be criticized for complaining about it, but it’s definitely NOT ok to sound racist AND we will support Obama for complaining about it.

  30. Yanni Znaio says:

    Thought you’d like

    Debunking The Bimbo Doctrine at The National Post.

  31. orlando says:

    A shining light in all this murk (if you’ll forgive the hyperbole) is Clinton’s point blank refusal to have anything whatever to do with the Palin-bashing. Talk about a principled stance.

  32. InsightAnalytical-GRL says:

    A lovely story/analogy,,,,with a very little bit of comment at the end….The story alone is really touching…

    Sarah, Joe and Liza the Chicken

  33. Cara says:

    You know, Violet, the anti-choice thing is enough for me to call her antifeminist. Sorry. It’s one thing to be against having an abortion oneself, but working to eliminate the choice for other women? Nope.

    Also, as we’ve seen numerous times, a woman who’s an exceptionalist can pay lip service to wanting equality for all women even as she’s pulling the ladder up behind her.

    The sexism is now being directed at her, true. It’s not okay. That doesn’t mean I want her in office. I can defend her against the sexist crap without wanting to vote for her.

  34. Yanni Znaio says:

    Women Against Sarah Palin Blog

    I didn’t *tell* any of y’all to go there;

    I didn’t *tell* any of y’all what to think;

    I didn’t *tell* any of y’all what to do.

    As there are lots of folks on both sides of the Palin issue.

    I merely pointed out that it was there.


  35. Violet says:

    It’s one thing to be against having an abortion oneself, but working to eliminate the choice for other women?

    Interestingly, though, she doesn’t seem to be actually doing that.

  36. Sis says:

    Oh I loooooove nun’s farts.

    (Go ahead. Tell them.)

    And yes whoever said it; when it’s racist it’s a terribly serious issue and Obama et al are changing society. When it’s sexism, quit your whining.

    But in public office, today, I think she, and Hillary still can’t say that.

    We can though. Fire away.

  37. Sis says:

    Ummm obviously, I really love them. Sorry Vi.

  38. Yanni Znaio says:

    Sis, in #36 says-

    But in public office, today, I think she, and Hillary still can’t say that.

    We can though. Fire away.

    More power to you, ma’am.

    If you ever need a spotter, give me a holler.

    Best regards,


  39. Yanni Znaio says:

    In #35, Violet says:

    It’s one thing to be against having an abortion oneself, but working to eliminate the choice for other women?

    Interestingly, though, she doesn’t seem to be actually doing that.

    I’d be unable to support her if she did do that, and I haven’t heard thing one that would indicate she would.

    Also interestingly, at least to this small-”l” libertarian, is the fact that to some degree, small-”l” libertarian themes tend to run through a lot of what she says, unless it’s just me listening funny.

    What I suspect it is is the self-reliant, independent streak that runs through a lot of folks who live far removed from Urban Centers.

    Best regards,


  40. Violet says:

    You know, Violet, the anti-choice thing is enough for me to call her antifeminist.

    That may be. But what bothers me is when people go further and say that she is against everything that feminism stands for. Not only is that ridiculous, it’s offensive.

    When I became a feminist, Harvard and Columbia were closed to women. This was in the 70s. By the time I was in high school, Harvard had gone co-ed (and the women students were called “co-eds”), but Columbia didn’t admit women until 1983, long after my high school days.

    I was turned down for a job point-blank by a man who told me that he didn’t hire young women because we were liable to get knocked up. A hotel clerk refused to take my credit card and would only deal with my husband. I had to fetch coffee for my boss.

    Women are still paid less than men, we’re still the sex class, we’re still second-class citizens, and a woman can’t run for President without being ridiculed.

    Feminism is about a hell of a lot more than abortion.

  41. Queen1 says:

    I wonder if Palin’s candidacy is bringing out the closet sexists? I suspect that had Clinton won the nomination, some very weird stuff would be happening, as well, just better disguised on the left. I ask this because my little brother has gotten incredibly venomous about Palin, saying things like “sexist pig bitch” and repeatedly referring to her as “honey.” Yet, he claims to be a feminist and to support his wife’s efforts to be an equal at a big law firm here in town. Is there some secret rage here that is conveniently disguised by his “disgust” with Palin’s “lack of experience,” “creationism,” and “vendettas against employees?”

    I can understand perfectly someone disagreeing with Palin’s policies, asking hard questions about whether she truly was a fiscal conservative, etc., all the questions we should ask about out candidates. I can understand not voting for her (well, really, John McCain) because one believes she would (if president) choose conservatives judges, etc. But calling her names like that? I can’t describe in words the level of malevolence I heard in his voice. I just don’t understand it. Is it all because she is conservative, or IS it at least partly because she is female?

    That’s why I wonder what might have arisen on the left had Hillary won. We know that we on the right would have attacked her tax policies, her health plan, etc. I don’t think that most of the right would have stooped to questioning her femininity (like the Obama folks did with the nutcrackers) or calling her names. I wonder what some men on the left might have done?

    What do you all think?

  42. Queen1 says:

    BTW, Dr. Violet Socks, I like your blog. And your name. I bought purple shoes recently.

  43. soopermouse says:

    I propose the term “jesuit feminism” for this particular phenomenon.
    A definition would be along these lines:

    Jesuit feminist: a person ( usually female) who believes that only people who agree with her 100% have the right to be and to call themselves feminists. This particular kind of animal can be encountered walking around in packs , and has a tendency to viciously attack any unfortunate creature who happens to disagree with their views. In their version of feminism, it is extremely acceptable to attack those deemed unworthy ( as in, disagreeing with their particular branch of feminism) with vicious sexist smears, lies and distortions. Unlike the rest of the feminist species, this bizarre subspecies believes itself to be the only possible incarnation of feminism.

    If you play WoW, think of them as the Feminist Scarlet Crusade. Everyone who isn’t them is tainted and evil ad should be destroyed at all costs.

  44. Sis says:

    Oh fuck you Soopermouse. Feel better now that you got that in here? How long have you been picking that scaB? Didja think I, (and maybe some others) would bite our lips and genuflect?

  45. Queen1 says:

    Hmm. I missed something; I didn’t get that last exchange. Jesuit feminism. I don’t know from Jesuits. I’ve known a few. Very good arguers. Somewhat legalistic.

    I do agree that there are “feminists” who brook no divergence from the herd mentality, just as there are in any group, eh? Feminists sin no more and no less there, I am sure. That’s human–to define “us” vs. “them.” I would surely be considered anathema in most feminist circles, I stray from the herd all the time.

    I think it helps to have SOME definition to the term–any term, really. I don’t agree that abortion should be the litmus test; some would disagree. But we can all agree that the childish name-calling and personal slurs are not useful. Just petulant.

  46. Carmonn says:

    Queen1, we didn’t have to wait for Clinton to win the nomination, the misogyny of liberal bloggers came out in the primary, and it was something to see, let me tell you. Whatever your brother’s saying aboy palin, just square it and apply it to Clinton and you get the idea.

    It’s exactly what you’re saying–Palin is a “pig bitch” because of her position on creationism, while Obama is our savior for having, err, the exact same position as Palin. Clinton was “evil pig bitch lady MacBeth Medea scheming primordial evil unforgiveable worst threat ever to our way of life” for being “too conservative” while Obama was miraculously liberal champion for being…as or more conservative in every way. Clinton’s experience and obvious wonky policy expertise didn’t count for a damn thing, because, you see, she slept her way to the top–Obama has no experience, that’s great! We don’t need no stinkin experience or specialized knowledge, he comes by his ignorance honestly and without benefit of marriage. Palin has no experience–stupid bitch!

    It’s been just one long exercise in ever-shifting double standards and woman hating and trying to pretend that the visceral, irrational hatred they feel is for some other reason than gender.

  47. Queen1 says:

    You’re right, you’re right, I know you’re right. I felt sorry for Hillary, even though I would never vote for her (I’m outed–I’m a conservative). But jiminy cricket! They crucified her! And when she noted, correctly, that it was sexist, they told her to STFU. Stunning.

    I think that conservatives are actually less sexist, at least many of them. I know a few neanderthals who question a woman’s ability to lead, but at least they are upfront about it, polite and have a structured argument, factitious though it may be. They don’t call her names. That’s just fatuous.

    I send Hillary good thoughts all the time now, because she held her head up and was winning in the end. Obama would probably come crawling to her on his belly (figuratively speaking) if he thought he could get away with it.

    Anyway, I digress. We conservatives saw the sexism in the Dem primary from the beginning; sadly, some fell in the “shut up and take it” trap, when at the same time prefacing every remark about Obama with “I’m not a racist.” Truth: it’s far more acceptable to be sexist than racist.

  48. J says:

    Soopermouse, “feminist scarlet crusade”, LMAO!

    I prefer to think of it as “positive” and “negative” versions of feminism.

    The positive type is about wanting women to live better lives. Violet may or may not in the end vote for Palin, but she is willing to engage in reasoning as she weighs the best possible outcome: voting for Palin might be good for women. Or it might not. Hmm. Let’s debate (with civility). That’s the positive approach.

    The negative type is about having unresolved anger that is the most important thing (which could be aimed almost anywhere – at men, at women, at the patriarchy, etc.) There is no civility. Anyone who defends the “wrong” side of an issue immediately becomes part of what to be angry about.

  49. soopermouse says:

    I don’t know J, I just read this and my head exploded:

    “Even if “progressive” men (who are complete phonies if they reject feminism) make sexist remarks about her, I wouldn’t try to clue them in by defending her. Maybe we should say, “Yeah, she should stay home in the kitchen and let a real woman, who knows what’s going on, run the show. Not clueless woman-haters like Palin and that dirty old man she’s campaigning with.”

    Whatever that shit is, it isn’t feminism.

  50. soopermouse says:

    who is Sis and wtf is wrong with her?

  51. WRY says:

    Dr. Violet,

    You’ve helped me come full circle to understand that I’m a feminist, not a democrat. The feeling is…well…liberating.

  52. donna darko says:

    soopermouse criticized the litmus test abortion feminists not the big tent feminists.

    Feminism is anything that’s good for women. Palin is good for women in the representation sense but not in the pro-choice sense.

  53. CoolAunt says:

    Like Queen1, I can appreciate that some women are anti-abortion and feminist even if I disagree with them regarding a woman’s right to choose. But I have a huge problem with the last paragraph. Ignoring sexism doesn’t make it go away or mean that it doesn’t exist. Allowing sexism to go unchecked will only allow it to perpetuate.

  54. Ann Bartow says:

    I’m glad Sarah Palin feels she benefited from Title IX when she was growing up. I know I did as well. But the Bush Administration has been methodically weakening it, by acts of the Bush Department of Education. Until November 2006 Title IX regulations prohibited single-sex education unless it was implemented to overcome sex discrimination or met narrowly defined exceptions, such as contact sports. However, the 2006 final regulations issued by the Department of Education loosened Title IX regulations significantly. Currently, single sex programs are permitted as long as they achieve “an important governmental or educational objective.”

    You can read the regs here:

    Also the Bush Justice Department largely has largely declined to assertively address Title IX violations. I expect a McCain/Palin will follow suit. It’s certainly what the majority of their constituents will demand and expect from them.

  55. Yanni Znaio says:

    Ms. Violet:

    Any word on how AM is doing?

    She’s been in my thoughts today.

    Best regards,


  56. Violet says:

    Nope. I hope she’s resting up.

  57. SS says:

    Dr. Violet,
    As someone who has stated “feminism is a hell of a lot more than abortion,” feminism is a hell of a lot more than simply gender equality. There are many other women, unlike Sarah Palin, where growing up as an athlete or hunter does not simply give you equal status as white, wealthy, heterosexual men. Sarah Palin’s perceived version of feminism has done nothing but hurt the feminist MOVEMENT, has done nothing but isolated poor women, women of color, queer women. And this movement has been dominated by white, liberal feminists who used feminism as a disposable tool to gain gender equality in their own lives, and then totally disregard ALL other versions of women for far too long. Do you read the work of black/chicana/lesbian/queer/poor/radical feminist theorists? I’m sure you’re aware of the intersectional oppressions that many women face in their lives. I am disgusted to have Sarah Palin as a feminist spokesperson. Have you listened to her speak? Because she has clearly stated that “women have every opportunity to success men do”…Do you honestly believe this? Which men? All men? Or white, wealthy men? Which women? Do you think about these questions? Does Sarah Palin? Because, I’m sorry, but that’s what feminism thinks about.

    Sarah Palin’s “feminism” will do nothing but destroy what progress our move has already made. I really don’t understand your version of “feminism” either. Feminism is a lot more than abortion, but it is historically and currently, a lot more than gender oppression. Sarah Palin may be able to claim she’s a “feminist” but can she truly say “I advocate feminism” (as black theorist bell hooks would ask for…) Feminism isn’t simply something that is “good for women.” There are definitely a certain set of beliefs that come along with being a feminist (thus advocating feminism.)Most of which wish to eradicate all forms of oppression through a cohesive movement to eradicate the dominant, hegemonic, patriarchal, heteronormative structures and institutions which hold them in place, and to replace this in a society where one’s race, social class, sexuality, ability, and gender have nothing to do with their ability to achieve.

    Like you, I am disgusted by the critique of gender in this election, amongst Palin and Clinton. Sarah Palin should never be criticized for her role as a woman, mother, whatever…but it is blatantly obvious that she is no feminist, unless your standards of feminism are outdated, exclusive, and essentially racist or homophobic. Because, just by saying women can/should be able to hunt, play sports, be president…Who is this helping? All women? Just to make clear, I am not calling her personally racist, homophobic, anything, just the feminist movement which she clearly advocates in your above quotes. If you want to really create Sarah Palin as a feminist icon, then please, involve some of her opinions on race, class, ability and sexuality relations in our society, and also, her plans to end the oppressions that these women and men face. Then perhaps you can form some sort of feminist viewpoint.

    Until this is done, love Sarah Palin all you want, but leave feminism out of it. It’s suffered enough.

  58. Violet says:

    As someone who has stated “feminism is a hell of a lot more than abortion,” feminism is a hell of a lot more than simply gender equality.

    No. Feminism is gender equality. That’s all it is.

    Most of which wish to eradicate all forms of oppression through a cohesive movement to eradicate the dominant, hegemonic, patriarchal, heteronormative structures and institutions which hold them in place, and to replace this in a society where one’s race, social class, sexuality, ability, and gender have nothing to do with their ability to achieve.

    That’s not feminism. That’s liberalism. I’m a liberal too. It’s good thing.

    The Third Wave doctrine of “intersectionality” is an intellectual boondoggle. That’s one reason Third Wavers can’t think their way out of a paper bag.

  59. The History Enthusiast says:

    I’m a new(ish) reader, and I just wanted to say that I enjoy your blog greatly. I have been arguing with some of my male friends about Palin recently, and while I try to keep it civil and present basic facts (i.e. that she is not a stupid idiot), their language turns quite vicious. It has taken me off guard, and sadly, has made it difficult for me to see these friends in the same light. Anyway, I was looking around the interwebs today for more debunking of Palin myths and found this great post.

    Just to out myself, I am a conservative in many ways, but I lean towards moderate on issues like the environment and gun control. I am vehemently pro-life and am a member of the organization Feminists for Life. I voted McCain/Palin. I haven’t felt welcome in other feminist blogging circles because of the abortion issue, but at your site I feel like I am not on the defensive quite so much. Thank you for that.