I have stayed out of the raging debate on whether or not Sarah Palin is a feminist, though I must admit giggling about it privately. It seems that the public appearance of what feminism stands for is far more important than its actual actions. As part of practicing their ideals, White feminist blog, after White feminist blog, defended Sarah Palin during the election, but when sexism and racism was aimed at Michelle Obama, all I could hear was canaries whistling. Palin it seems, was considered to White to have to suffer sexism, while the oppression of a Black woman was nothing to get upset about. It once again fell to Black women to defend Michelle Obama, but hey, we’re all about sisterhood aren’t we? Don’t you love the smell of vagina solidarity in the morning?
Shelly Mandell, president of the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Organization for Women had this to say when she publicly endorsed Palin:
I know Sarah Palin cares about women’s rights,” Mandell said. “As vice president, she will fight for you. She cares about our children and she cares about women’s lives .
And to make sure that everyone got the point, when Mandell handed over the microphone to Palin she announced:
This is what a feminist looks like.
NOW quickly released a statement reaffirming it’s endorsement of Obama, but you cannot un-ring a bell.
Thus began the feminist wars of either claiming or rejecting Sarah Palin. I actually find this little feud to be quite amusing. For some women, Palin is simply not progressive enough, however; they conveniently forget that with the exception of her pro life stance, Palin has taken positions that feminism has a history of not only acknowledging, but openly engaging in. I am sure right now you are wondering what I mean, so let me lay it out for you.
From the outside, it seems like White feminists are really protesting falsely. When I look at the checklist, it appears that Palin has every one of the above qualities that feminism has historically supported. If that stings a little, don’t blame me, blame the nasty isms that feminism has a history of engaging in, every single time it is understood as an appropriate path to White, heterosexual, cis gendered, middle/upper class, able bodied liberation.
The policing of Palin’s identity is ridiculous to me as an outsider, because it smacks of a failure to own the very principles that feminism has historically engaged in. It appears more like feminists don’t like the fact that Palin is overt in her beliefs, rather than the covert manner in which feminism seems to like to use as a tactic to “other.”
So let’s go over this one more time for the record. She was endorsed by the president of a chapter of NOW and she fits the checklist– but somehow she is not a feminist. Well I say, if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck. To me, this should be ringing alarm bells everywhere, but instead it has led to policing and denial. The very fact that Palin can take on the label of feminist, speaks to a great decay in women’s organizing, but instead of challenging the problems, feminists are once again behaving like ostriches, and pretending that there are not deep flaws in the label that they have decided to rally under. Treating Sarah Palin as an outcast, and refusing to identify with her will not change the way that feminism is perceived, because feminists continue to act akin to her on a daily basis.
As an outsider, I certainly cannot tell you what to do, however; it seems to me that this is an indicator that you need to clean your house. I know that many feminists consider domestic labour to be drudgery but the things that are growing under the rug really are quite dirty.