Sarah Palin regards herself a feminist, no doubt about it. At a May 14, 2010, meeting of the Susan B. Anthony List, she declared herself a “feminist.” And in America by Heart, the former vice-presidential candidate announced: “It surprises some people to hear that I consider myself a feminist.”
So exactly how does Mrs. Palin view this gender-liberation creed?
To some, feminism means men and women should have equal opportunities — and responsibilities — at school, in the workplace, and in society. Presumably, equality should benefit men and women alike. This is what some call “equality feminism.”
This squares with the constitutional notion of equal treatment under the law, and most conservatives, I believe, are comfortable with that.
To others, feminism has a radically different design — it means women should equal (or surpass) men, even if it entails government-imposed quotas, set-asides, and other social-engineering schemes. These “gender feminists” do not fret if these programs end up shortchanging men. Girls rule!, the preening rad-fems exclaim.
Which school of feminist thought does Sarah Palin belong to?
At first, it would appear that she belongs to the equality feminism school. Writing in America by Heart, she explains,
The original feminists were interested in securing equal rights and opportunity for women in a man’s world. But at some point feminism began to be about emphasizing women as victims. … In short, the message of feminism became, “No, we can’t — at least not unless government helps” (141).
Most conservatives would applaud that pronouncement.
But a mere two pages removed from these words comes forth the voice of a different Sarah Palin, a woman whose athletic aspirations can only be satisfied by, yes – a government-backed quota system. In her words, “I also consider myself a grateful beneficiary of the movement for female equality, particularly Title IX, the federal law that mandates equal opportunity for women in high school and college sports.”
This was not Palin’s brain addled by an aurora borealis during a long Alaska night. The former governor espouses similar views in her Going Rogue book.