This is What a Feminist Looks Like?

Well, maybe — if you’re looking at certain selected members of the women’s rights movement (some of whom didn’t call themselves feminists because the term hadn’t been coined yet). You see, Governor Palin belongs to an organization called Feminists for Life, which lists prominent women’s rights activists who were “overwhelmingly pro-life.” This is factually correct — see the classic work on this by Linda Gordon, who also described how some early women’s rights supporters opposed birth control because they believed it would lead to the sexual exploitation of women by removing the risk of pregnancy, the one way to make men accountable for their behavior.  Yet, a lot has changed since Susan B. Anthony’s day — women have demanded and received the same constitutional rights as men, including the right to vote and the right to privacy which legalized not only abortion but artificial contraception as well.  Katha Pollitt has described the inconsistencies in the FFL position, arguing that exposing the constraints on women’s choices is only part of what feminism does — it should also recognize women’s rights as moral agents to make decisions about what is best for themselves. I would add the FFL position violates women’s rights under the constitution — Loretta Ross has a great bit about how forcing a woman to carry a pregnancy to term is a form of involuntary servitude, i.e. slavery, something that is all too familiar to women of color fighting for reproductive justice.

[P.S. for two excellent related posts, see this one by Historiann, and this one by Tenured Radical]

4 thoughts on “This is What a Feminist Looks Like?

  1. I think feminists come in all shapes and forms these days. Some women think that because I have choosen to become a stay-at-home-mom, that I am not a feminist. But I am. Being a feminist has nothing to do with the job you have. It has to do with the ability to be able take any job that you want to and being paid the same as your male counterpart. We’ve come a long way and let’s hope that Governor Palin can “crash through that glass ceiling”.

  2. Yes, I would agree that feminists are as diverse a group as any other. I do think that in general, there is some common ground — for example, concerns about the “lavender menace” have disappeared from mainstream feminism.

  3. Hey–thanks for the link. I hadn’t seen TR’s post! You should also see Ruth Rosen’s commentary on FFL over at, not so much because her commentary is all that interesting, but rather because the comments there illustrate perfectly the huge mistake that Democrats are making when they insult and patronize Palin.

  4. Pingback: Wailin’ about Palin! : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present

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