Yes Kathleen, more women in politics does not equal a win for us all

20 Jul

A guest post from Laura of Fully Engaged Feminism on deconstructing the article that launched all the feminist navel gazing.

Feminism as a movement fights for justice, and equality between the sexes. For some it serves as an idea, and others as a radical thought. It is a notion that has sparked rallies, speak-outs, government actions, blogs, books and a thousand quotes. There is no easy summation of it as a movement, but some snippets of other writers do come close. For instance the writer Mary Wollstonecraft speaking of women and their fight for rights said: “I do not wish them to have power over men, but over themselves.”

Feminists have labored for a long time hoping to address the lack of women in governmental representational roles. Kathleen Parker’s sudden investment in the feminist movement’s reaction to the slew of anti-choice republican senatorial candidates is at least a little disingenuous. The Amazon page for her book of ‘Save the Males’ includes “men are an endangered species struggling against everything from mere hostility to literal emasculation.” Then further down the page it also says men ‘must endure rape awareness workshops’ on their college campuses. All of these trials and tribulations men are made to endure, according to Ms. Parker, are at fault of the feminists, and the ‘politically correct.’ Rape Awareness Workshops? Oh for shame evil feminists! Clearly Ms. Parker has an agenda with feminism, if not those political candidates.

She is not the first woman to take her own binary views of gender, and women’s ‘responsibilities’ as far as their reproductive options go. It is a bit of a trope actually. Those on the right wing are happy to watch the conservative talking points (libertarian, republican, or some other variety) fly from the mouth of a woman. It can’t be that bad for women if a woman is advocating it, right? Previously perfected by the likes of Phyllis Schlafly and ‘Dr.” Laura women have often risen to the ranks by complaining feminism left them behind once they were granted the right to vote.

Why then pay attention to an argument clearly designed to bait feminists into fighting with an individual with no clear intention of identifying as feminist?  Because the politicians Kathleen Parker mentions (Sarah Palin, Sharron Angle, Nikki Haley, Carly Fiorina and Susana Martinez) are not only anti-choice but they also take a stance against health care reform, and several of them make mention of the nebulous conservative ideal of ‘traditional family.’ None of them make mention on their official web sites of issues that feminists agitate for: helping women access health care, the violence women face, making child care easier to access, or gender based pay discrepancy. Jan Brewer has more than proved that voting for a woman does not equal selecting a politician who will advocate for women, or will even fight for those who lack a voice. Feminism has never been for promoting women for gender’s sake. In fact suggestions that they have done so are essentialist by assuming that women think and act with some hive mind and are as interchangeable as a stepford-wife.

As a movement feminism has evolved. Some have called these movements waves, yet others have said that separating the movement by generations is divisive, and ignores the work of those who have helped the evolution. Feminism has dealt with (and still deals with) classism, racism, lookism, ableism, cis-sexism, and ageism. Access to abortion (along with a whole host of reproductive health options and quality pre-natal care, and child care options for pregnancies carried to term) is a line in the sand, because women deserve the basic respect to make choices regarding their own bodies.  A wide movement has to have room for growth. When working to end the oppression based on gender, or sex, the conversation has to evolve. But a wide movement cannot have room for strains within it that seek to continue oppression.

One Response to “Yes Kathleen, more women in politics does not equal a win for us all”

  1. Kate July 21, 2010 at 3:18 am #

    Hey! I’ve got an idea!

    I’m an animal rights activist, so I believe that we should keep putting them in zoos! Because God created us humans with some capabilities and animals with certain others, and that very natural and essential distribution of qualities means that we should keep protecting the animals by putting them behind bars and feeding them regularly. I mean, yeah, in the wild they would have hunted their own food and eaten it fresh, but we save them all that trouble by bringing it to them already dead and even refrigerated!! Isn’t that nice of us?

    Oh yeah, and it’s really great that we have people like me that are animal rights activists, because I really care about animals and I know what’s best for them! They are always first and foremost on my mind when I am developing golf courses on nature preserves and stuff… I always am balancing the needs of all the animals with the natural order of society and nature. Because I’m an awesome animal rights activist!!!

    That makes sense, right?

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