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A Feminist Dream at the GOP By: Kirsten Powers
New York Post | Monday, September 08, 2008


If you drive around my home state of Alaska for very long, you're sure to see a bumper sticker exclaiming, "Alaska girls kick ass."

Last night, "Sarah Barracuda" more than lived up to that slogan as she fought back at the media and Washington naysayers who've ridiculed her as a bimbo bumpkin interloper and showed she isn't going to be pushed around.

Had the media not been viciously attacking her family for the last few days, the speech might've seemed too tough. With that backdrop, it was more than appropriate.

The Obama camp also gave her the perfect chance to smack it around for being elitists - since its first response to John McCain picking her was to ridicule the size of her home town.

On that stage last night, Sarah Palin represented everything the feminist movement claims to strive for: a successful working woman with a happy family life and a husband who helps raise the children. Yet, rather than hailing her accomplishment, the feminist establishment has sat by silently as she's savaged for being a working mother.

Turns out old feminism is really just a bunch of good 'ole girls telling you what to think.

Ladies, don't you worry your pretty little heads about deciding what you believe; the audaciously named National Organization for Women is here to speak on your behalf.

NOW put out a press release saying that Sarah Palin doesn't speak for women's rights. That's NOW's job.

Except if a conservative woman is being smeared in the media with sexist attacks and held to a completely different standard than her male counterparts. Then NOW has nothing to say about women's rights.

Time for a little truth in advertising.

Liberal women have been furiously penning identical screeds against Sarah Palin - blasting McCain for not understanding women and then announcing, "Now, let me speak on behalf of all women and tell you what women want in a candidate."

Talk about condescending.

Actress and 1970s women's-rights activist Jean Stapleton once allegedly quipped that Edith Bunker would support the Equal Rights Amendment "if she understood it." Today, nobody could blame any woman for not understanding a movement that purports to support equality for women but sits by silently as liberal radio host Ed Schultz uses "bimbo alert" to refer to Palin - and calls her a bad mother on CNN.

Where is the condemnation for the sickening misogyny, such as the DailyKOS's mock Playboy cover with Palin? The Huffington Post's photo montage of Palin, headlined "Former Beauty Queen, Future VP?" The Washington Post's Sally Quinn criticizing Palin for being a working mother?

Well, I suppose she could've stayed home and baked cookies.

But conservatives shouldn't get too self-satisfied - they have plenty to atone for, too. Having discovered sexism now that their darling Sarah is under attack doesn't get them off the hook for their part in tearing down liberal working women in the past. (See: Clinton, Hillary, cookies.)

A 2001 National Review cover story screamed, "Thanks Mom! The Case Against Working Mothers." It included such gems as: "Maybe a little stigma is exactly what [working mothers] deserve . . . for abandoning their children. We are committed to 'leaving no child behind' unless it is by his mother hustling off to make her career." Now National Review Online is the hub for condemning sexist comments on Palin - who went back to work three days after giving birth to her last child. Hustle, hustle.

Many liberal women remember how infuriating it was to watch the conservative Phyllis Schlafly travel the country lecturing women about the evils of equal rights and urging them to not work (as she worked and was away from her family). Now, she supports Sarah Palin.

At the 1992 Republican National Convention, Pat Buchanan demonized Hillary Clinton as a "radical feminist" who hated the institution of marriage despite her seeming attachment to her own marriage against all odds.

When asked during the primary by a supporter about Hillary, "How do we beat the bitch?" McCain laughed and answered: "That's an excellent question."

Both sides suffer from the same illness: Ideology trumps all.

Now it's time for both sides to move past this and embrace some postpartisan feminism. Sexism will never stop if both sides are blind to it when it happens to their opponents.

There's some hope. The new women's group, WomenCount, which sprung up from the Hillary movement, was founded to speak out against all sexism - not just that lobbed at women they agree with. In a statement about Palin, it said it would "stand up for [Palin] against misogynist smears not because we like her or support her, but because that's how feminism works."

Amen to that.




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