Thursday, September 11, 2008

Big Tent Feminism

It appears reports of feminism's death have been wildly exaggerated. This election cycle has prompted many to examine their beliefs about gender equality, especially as they may have been challenged over their support or nonsupport of Senator Hillary Clinton's historic candidacy.

Here's a brief sampling of some provocative writings on the status feminism in light of Senator Clinton's and Governor Palin's involvement in this election cycle:

Camille Paglia (Salon)

Now that's the Sarah Palin brand of can-do, no-excuses, moose-hunting feminism -- a world away from the whining, sniping, wearily ironic mode of the establishment feminism represented by Gloria Steinem, a Hillary Clinton supporter whose shameless Democratic partisanship over the past four decades has severely limited American feminism and not allowed it to become the big tent it can and should be. Sarah Palin, if her reputation survives the punishing next two months, may be breaking down those barriers. Feminism, which should be about equal rights and equal opportunity, should not be a closed club requiring an ideological litmus test for membership.

Violet (Reclusive Leftist)

Pro-choice women will never agree with pro-life women on abortion, but they do agree on equal pay and healthcare and domestic violence. In The New Agenda tent, those are the things they can work on together. The Hothead Paisan lesbians and the feminists-for-Christ probably won’t be joining each other’s social clubs anytime soon, but in The New Agenda tent they can put their heads together to figure out how to combat sexism in the media.

The idea is to create a place where we can join forces on the many issues that unite us, instead of remaining always divided by the issues that separate us.

Rebecca Traister (Zombie feminists of the RNC - Salon)

I have been writing about feminism for more than five years; I have been covering the gender politics of the 2008 presidential election for more than two. And I am absolutely gobsmacked by the intensity of my feelings about Sarah Palin. I am stunned not only by the way in which her candidacy has changed the rules in the gender debate, or how it is twisting and garbling the fight for women's progress. But I'm also startled by how Palin herself is testing my own beliefs about how I react to women in power.

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