Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Feminist Angle on Sarah Palin

You might have noticed in my last post that I didn't mention Governor Palin's gender as a reason I'm happy Senator McCain chose her as his running mate. But I do find the feminist angle interesting.

At City Journal, Lisa Schiffren writes:
Now about that woman thing: some commentators object that Palin was chosen primarily as a sop to female voters, especially disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters. Well, of course the McCain campaign wants to entice those women to vote for the Republican ticket. Putting together coalitions is how elections are won. Women happen to be 52 percent of the electorate. Ignoring them, let alone insulting them as Barack Obama is perceived to have done, is politically foolish. Some worried that McCain would pick a token woman, such as Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas—she of the long Washington tenure, liberal Republican views, and few accomplishments (though she does look the part). Instead, he surprised many by picking Palin.
Hugh Hewitt linked to a wonderful essay today by John Mark Reynolds. In it he writes:

Women like Palin do not ask for respect, they earn it. They may not like it when their previous work is denigrated, but they move on. That is wise.

That does not mean that the rest of us have to put up with narrow-minded foolishness that thinks only paid work gives valuable experience, that writing your own autobiography twice is always more interesting than helping run the family business and educating your kids, or that chattering as a guest on Sunday talk shows gives a better education than doing hard physical labor.

A wise culture would look at the sum of Sarah Palin’s life and her experience and be thrilled to say:

“Give her the reward she has earned,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” [Proverbs 31:31]

Over at PoliPundit.com, W.C. Varone linked to the YouTube video ad put out by the die-hard Hillary supporters known as PUMAs (as in Party Unity My A**!). The ad is "PUMAs for Palin", and it closes:
Country First
Come and be a part of history
Help us forever shatter the glass ceiling
OUR time
OUR hope
OUR change
OUR moment
OUR year
Right now
And for forever

Geraldine Ferraro wrote, "There are a lot of women who are disaffected by how Hillary was treated by the media, by how she was treated by the Obama campaign, by how she was treated by the Democratic National Committee — [Democratic party chairman] Howard Dean not speaking up when sexism raised its ugly head in the media. They’ll be looking to see what happens now." And the McCain campaign quotes Ms. Ferraro saying, "The other thing I must say this is the first time that anybody who is in a national position, has publicly thanked me in 24 years." (FOX's "Fox & Friends," 8/30/08)"

That generosity of spirit, to echo The Anchoress, is already paying dividends.

Over at National Review's Campaign Spot, Jim Geraghty shared some of his email from Hillary supporters. For example,
At the outset, let me note that I am THRILLED that McCain picked Palin. But, I'm extremely disappointed in the media coverage and the assertions that feminists won't support her. Such statements show a total misunderstanding of what a feminist truly is.

In the mid 1990s, Christine Hoff Sommers (a Democrat) wrote Who Stole Feminism? She opines, and I believe correctly so, that there are two types of feminists—equity feminists, who want women treated equally, and gender feminists, who basically dislike the other gender and always claim victim status. I am one of the former—I want to be treated equally and judged on merit, not on my gender. I am also pro-choice (not pro-abortion, but pro-choice). And, I have always been a Republican. I think Palin was a perfect choice. She had made it on her own—not because she is a woman and not by claiming victim status. She was judged on her merits and has basically lived the American dream. I am also greatly impressed by her decision to remain pro-life in light of the information that her fetus had Down syndrome. She was allowed to make her choice and she stood by her principles.
There are going to be lots of electrons dedicated to divining how the "feminist" vote will play out this November, with various categories applied. Over at Capitalist View, Jill Fields posits "[t]here are three types of female voters who play into the outcome of this selection (sic)": Party and policy loyalists, the feminist and women’s opportunity advocates, and glass-ceiling smashers.

Ultimately, I agree with Jim Geraghty:
The thing is, McCain doesn't need all the Hillary voters and PUMAs. He just needs... enough.
Update: The indispensable Betsy's Page has more - "Palin and the women's vote"