Republican Party Identity Politics: A Lesson from the Failed Scozzafava Campaign

I'm certainly happy to be a modern woman. The possibilities are numerous -- career choices, children, freedom. Life is good.

American women have all these things, yet there is a notable lack of women, both Democrat and Republican, in national political office. Why? Well, the job is demanding as hell and requires extended periods of separation, for one. Another reason: I'll call it Sarah Palin Syndrome. Women, especially conservative women, are chewed up by the media. (This also happens to women bloggers. Related thoughts here.)

Leftist feminists feel that conservative women disparage the very things feminists work for while enjoying the benefits of that work. Equality in the workplace, more equitable task distribution at home (still haven't figured out how to outsource breastfeeding, but I digress), and more respect for women generally -- all triumphs of the women's movement -- have benefited all Western women. It should be noted that many cultures do not enjoy this equitable dynamic.

And then, the piece de resistance of the feminist movement, abortion, comes to the fore. One prominent blogger and leftist progressive feminist said to me, as the second statement out of her mouth: "You know, abortion is my thing, right?" I replied, "Oh, I know."

Every conservative woman knows how abortion defines most modern feminists. The conservative women I know, though, don't define being a modern woman by abortion. They also don't believe that they deserve special treatment as a woman. These two facts grate on feminists. Don't conservative women see how reproductive control puts a woman in the driver seat? Don't conservative women feel oppressed? The conservative woman answers that abortion infringes a helpless victim's civil rights. As a woman whose equal rights are relatively recent, it's hypocritical to take them away from another being. There are times of inconvenience and any abuse will be fought and overcome. Stop whining, feminists, it plays to stereotypes.

The reaction from feminist women when told to quit whining? Foot stomping, personal and often -- ironically enough -- sexualized attacks, and more whining. See Maureen Dowd.

This animus causes conservative women all sorts of grief with other women. If they're pro-life, they lose a lot of women voters. If they're pro-abortion, they lose social conservatives. That was a bit of a digression, but salient. Conservative women fight bigotry from all sides. It makes it difficult to get elected. That's why the number of conservative elected women is abysmal.

So, how to rectify this sad situation?