Do We Support All the Sisters?

Alg_carly_fiorinaWhat do we think about the rise of the conservative woman? Should we cheer the election of all women, even women whose politics we don't particularly like?

Ross Douthat writes, "…Whether or not Palin or Fiorina or Haley can legitimately claim the
label feminist, their rise is a testament to the overall triumph of the
women’s movement."

Linda Hirshman says that we have to judge these women by their policies. Hirshman says that we must take a hard stand against conservative women politicians, unlike those horrible mommybloggers who are undermining the movement.

UPDATE: Amanda Marcotte responds to Douthat.

6 thoughts on “Do We Support All the Sisters?

  1. My opinion is that the U.S. needs more cross-cutting cleavages at the sub-elite levels and that this type of thing can only help (excepting Palin who I do not get).

  2. I find Linda Hirschman horribly judgmental and irritating. However, if you can strip away some of her tone, I mostly agree with her. Especially the bits about the difference between basing your “feminist” policies on anecdotal/personal experience (Fiorina, Palin) vs. an appreciation for what makes good policy and serves large numbers of women (Boxer).

  3. I’ve never cared who can legitimately claim any label, and only care about what they do. I’m glad that women are gaining prominence, compared to their foils. I can find their personal stories inspiring, and there is inspiration to be found in Palin’s motherhood, just as in McCain’s POW story. The NYtimes story of Nikki Haley is inspiring as well. If these women gain prominence instead of Limbaugh, Gingrich, Bloomberg, Guiliani, . . . . Well, I’m pleased.
    But, would I vote for them? Not unless I agreed with their policies, and I don’t agree with any of them.

  4. A few small points:
    1. Conservatives are trying to claim the word “feminist.” That’s a good thing. That will lead to fewer women saying things like “I’m not a feminist, but . . .” Words like “liberal” and “feminist” get branded as dirty words. If Palin supporters can call themselves feminists, then, at a minimum, the rest of us can also do so without reservation.
    2. Successful candidate Fiorina/ Whitman is exactly as much a “feminist victory” as CEO Fiorina/ Whitman. They are role models for women, beyond their specific policies. There have been more women governors elected since 2000 (fifteen) than there were, total, from 1776 through 1990 (less than ten). Girls in those states know that their governors are women — not that their governors oppose partial birth abortion and stem cell research.
    3. I voted for a female Republican for mayor in my little New Jersey Borough because I like what it symbolizes, and I like that my little Raggirls smile when they see the woman waving in parades, and know that she is the leader of our little town. (I was not intending to, but a daughter who was being wrongfully disenfranchised merely because she was five years old felt very strongly about it, so I ceded my vote to her.) It also helped that none of the 10 issues most important to me have large Dem/Rep divides in local politics (our mayor will not be voting against abortion or “states rights” during her term.) So, definitely some points for “symbolism” over “real policies.”
    4. “Feminist” is a good thing, but it is not the only thing. I supported Senator Clinton in the 2008 primaries, and thought that her victory would be a big, real, feminist victory. I did not support Senator Mosely Braun in 2004, despite the fact that her victory would have also been a big, real, feminist victory.
    5. A victory for Senator Palin or Whiteman or Fiorino may or may be be a “big, real feminist victory,” — it probably would be in some ways, and would not be in others, but since almost everyone who calls themselves “feminists” also have a long list of other “-isms” they subscribe to, I think nearly every feminist would be able to reasonably decide “X would be at least a small feminist victory, but I will still oppose it due to other factors.”

  5. After Hirshman claimed, on no evidence, that the Great Recession was hurting women more severely than men, and when actual data was examined it was overwhelmingly the other way, it’s a wonder she has the, well, let’s call it brass to try and enter public discourse again.

  6. Well, no. The idea of supporting women because I am a woman is ridiculous. About as ridiculous as me supporting a person of color because I am a person of color. I don’t necessarily believe women are more compassionate. Look at what’s happening in AZ.

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