The feminist revolution began as a necessary reform movement, but unfortunately evolved into a Marxism-imbued, revolutionary one. Second-wave feminism’s focus soon shifted from women’s equal rights (which are limited to those defined by law) to women’s interests (which are limitless), as perceived through a victim’s lens.
For decades, the people that instruct our children; mold our lawyers, social workers, psychologists and health professionals; train our judiciary; control (and misinform) the domestic-violence industry; shape the views of journalists; and counsel politicians: All have been marinating from early youth in feminist correctness.
The consequence has been a culture that, if not overtly man-hating, is always man-blaming — in which, to our collective detriment, the rights of boys and men (especially fathers) are scanted for the sins of a few, and their contributions to the family and society trivialized.
That changed on September 3, 2008, when Sarah Palin accepted her vice-presidential nomination at the Republican convention in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Her speech electrified the nation.
Before 39-million viewers, Palin was the first public figure to openly and successfully ridicule the hitherto untouchable Barack Obama. She also was the first American woman to campaign for high office by paying homage, but no ideological dues, to the Sisterhood. This Alaskan small-town huntin’, fishin’ God-fearin,’ abortion-hatin’ mom of five showed that a woman can break through any glass ceiling she wants without the imprimatur of the feminist politburo.
Feminists watching Palin’s stunning performance knew a stake was being driven through their movement’s heart. They went ballistic. Feminist blogger Jessica Grose wrote on her Jezebel web site: “When Palin spoke on Wednesday night, my head almost exploded … What I feel for her privately could be described as violent, nay murderous, rage.” Judith Warner wrote in The New York Times that Palin was an “insult to women.” Comedian Sandra Bernhard riffed on YouTube: “Turncoat bitch! You whore in your cheap f***ing … cheap-ass plastic glasses.” Academic Wendy Doniger opined, “Palin’s greatest hypocrisy is her pretense that she is a woman.”
And who can forget Canada’s very own Heather Mallick — then of the CBC, now of the Toronto Star — who watched Palin with “my mouth open, my eyeballs drying out, my hand making shaky notes.” From those “shaky notes” emerged a stomach-turning attack on Palin’s “pram-face” daughter, Bristol, followed by the advice: “Turn your guns on [Bristol’s boyfriend] Levi, ma’am.” (And liberals say conservative discourse encourages violence!)
You may love Sarah Palin or you may hate her. You may admire her courage and values, as I do, but hope she does not run for president in 2012. However you feel about her, she has altered our cultural landscape, and inspired a formidable cadre of women entering politics: women whom conservative American cultural critic Kay Hymowitz identifies as “Palinite politicas” and “Mama Grizzlies.”
In her Winter 2011 City Journal article, “Sarah Palin and the Battle for Feminism,” Hymowitz points out that not only are 55% of self-identified Tea Party members are women, but a majority of its national and state coordinators are, too. Republican women are entering the House of Representatives and governors’ mansions in record numbers. They see themselves as “feminists,” in the broad sense. But the Palinite politicas aren’t urban, coastal, upscale Ivy league elites like our reigning feminists. They come from the South, the Midwest and the West. Many of them are businesswomen and techies — not academics, journalists and state-funded policy-mongers. They are less interested in which sex folds more laundry or changes more diapers, and far more consumed by conservative, gender-neutral issues such as freer markets, lowered deficits and reduced government.
Hymowitz calls them Mama Grizzlies because they celebrate, rather than repudiate, their biological natures. Mama Grizzlies see men as different but complementary to women, and therefore as collaborators, not adversaries. Sarah Palin’s Down’s Syndrome-afflicted child and military-serving son — whom she speaks about proudly at public events — aren’t an anomaly in this circle of unapologetically maternal women. Minnesota congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, founder of the House Tea Party caucus, has nurtured 23 foster children over the years.
No wonder feminists mired in the superannuated shibboleths of revolutionary feminism are shocked. As always happens with Utopian revolutions, its pendulum, propelled outward by theories and ideology, can only swing so far from human nature’s permanent verities, and cause so much social damage, before corrective populist movements force it back to the middle.
Feminists long have militated for more women to go into politics. Of course, as their visceral loathing of Sarah Palin demonstrates, it wasn’t “women” they wanted to see running for office, it was feminists: politically correct clones of themselves who would understand that their commitment to women’s interests trumps all.
If there is one issue that illustrates the bright line between revolutionary feminism and Palinite feminism, it is abortion. The unfettered right to abortion is an irreducible feminist dogma. It wasn’t always the case. The Suffragettes were political pioneers, but social conservatives. Thanks to Sarah Palin, the long political hibernation of socially conservative feminism is over.
One thing we all know is, you don’t want to stand between a Mama Grizzly and her babies. And these Mama Grizzlies happen to like babies a lot. The born ones and the unborn ones too. Exciting political times ahead.