Who Defines Feminism?
By Bruce Walker
September 29, 2008
A hive of feminist organizations are swarming around media outlets and telling America that Sarah Palin does not stand for women and does not support women's rights. This hive of hornets is complemented by a long line of party-line Democrat women marching around America saying much the same thing. In contrast, Christina Hoff Sommers wrote a wonderful book several years ago entitled Who Stole Feminism? Tammy Bruce, once the head of the National Organization for Women (NOW) in Los Angeles, has also exposed the moral and intellectual vacuity of self-described feminism.
There was once a movement in America which called itself feminist. How did these first feminists feel about abortion? Susan B. Anthony called it "child murder." Alice Paul, who drafted the first Equal Rights Amendment, called it "the ultimate exploitation of women." Eleanor Smeal of Feminist Majority and Kim Gandy of NOW both cite Sarah's anti-abortion stance as a prime reason why they consider her hostile to women's issues. Sarah Palin agrees with the original feminists. The bosses of modern pseudo-feminism do not.
Feminism was intimately connected with abolitionism. The legal equality of all people was a pillar of original feminism. This meant absolute equality, and not inequality masking as equality. Search original feminists to find support for affirmative action, for example, and search in vain. Reverse bigotry, politely named "quotas" or "goals" was just as offensive to original feminists as was abortion. Sarah Palin agrees with the original feminists. Eleanor Smeal opposed Proposition 209 in California which banned discrimination on the basis of race, gender, or ethnicity.
Why did these original feminists believe that blacks should have the same legal rights as whites and that women should have the same legal rights as men? The basis for original feminism was, overwhelmingly, Christianity. It was another Sarah - Sarah Grimke - who had the remarkable courage to fight slavery in the South. Sarah and her sister were Southerners by birth who called upon their fellow Southerners to end the sin of slavery. On what did the Grimke sisters base their abolitionist crusade? The Bible. Sarah Palin is in firm accord with the Grimke sisters and all the other intensely religious original feminists. Does Eleanor Smeal base feminism upon Judeo-Christian faith? If she has, she has spoken very, very quietly.
Original feminists in America were almost never Democrats. Some were nonpartisan, but a large number were strong Republicans. When Susan B. Anthony defied New York law and voted she proudly boasted of voting a straight Republican ticket. Just as Democrats, not Republicans opposed both abolition and one century later civil rights, so Democrats, not Republicans, opposed women's suffrage and equal rights for women. Sarah Palin is a Republican in the long tradition of the Republican Party. Eleanor Smeal finds herself more comfortable in the party of Senator Bilbo, Governor Maddox, and Senator Byrd - all confirmed racists who hated blacks and Republicans equally.
What we have been taught to call "feminism" today has nothing to do with original feminism. The pseudo-feminism of NOW is simply the Ladies Auxiliary of modern Leftism. When Clinton brutally raped a woman, where were these feminists? Nowhere. When radical Moslems right now treat women in ways that would have horrified Americans two centuries ago, where is the support for American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan? Again, nowhere. When a woman, lovingly supported by her husband, builds a career as a reformer against a corrupt political machine, where are the pseudo-feminist cheer leaders of the Democrat Party? Cheer leading for Obama, the product of a corrupt political machine.
What the original feminists had and what Sarah Palin has is what the pseudo-feminist party hacks lack: principles. Feminism was based not upon the proposition of advancing "women's issues," but upon advance principles of individual equality. The platform for these principles was not the Democrat Party Platform but the Judeo-Christian moral tradition of divinely created human souls. Feminism was concerned above all with the process of fairness, not the equivalence of result.
Sarah Palin is precisely what Susan B. Anthony would have wanted in an American President: self-made success; happily married; favoring life over prenatal infanticide; belonging to the Party of Lincoln; supporting universal equality rather than special rights for some. Original feminists did not believe that principles change over time. Neither does Sarah Palin. Pseudo-feminists simply view their hostage movement as another in the long line of socialist con artists, swerving to please their male patrons as long as the gravy train still flows. Pseudo-feminism is a perfect example of the Bridge to Nowhere that is modern Leftism.
Bruce Walker is a long-time conservative writer whose work is published regularly at popular conservative sites such as American Thinker.