Sunday, October 26, 2008
Debate about Abortion in the Leadership of the Women's Movement? Imagine that!
There's a very interesting article in the Washington Post about the profound effect Sarah Palin is having on "traditional" feminism. The article points out that: "As Election Day nears, it's clear that gender was not a disqualifying factor for either Clinton or Palin. Voters who turned against them did so for other reasons, just as they do with male candidates. Women from both parties also perceive with satisfaction a heightened emphasis on their issues in this year's race."
Most interesting (and encouraging) for some of us Catholic "new feminists", though, is this description of how her witness as a pro-life woman is affecting "traditional" feminists.
The unexpected recognition of a conservative as a role model for women has forced some traditional feminists to reconsider the movement's mission. "It's going to take us a while to find our bearings," said Sarah Stoesz, who runs the Planned Parenthood office that oversees Minnesota and the Dakotas. "As feminists, we've always thought that a core aspect of women's equality is about being in control of our reproductive lives. But Sarah Palin is throwing the calculus out the window and demonstrating a view that some people would call feminism: I can be governor, I can have five children, I can shoot and field-dress a moose, and I don't need access to abortion.
"There's a big debate inside the leadership of the women's movement about how much abortion should be a key political issue."
. . .
The next big issue for women, Bernard surmised, is to determine whether both sides of the ideological spectrum can find common ground. "Is there a big enough tent -- can we all find the common ground in the push for women's rights regardless of women's position on abortion?" she asks.
In recent years, vocal groups such as IWF and Feminists for Life have stepped forward to fight the perception that only liberal women can be in favor of equality and independence. By calling herself a feminist -- once considered a dirty word by the religious right -- Palin proclaimed that feminism is no longer synonymous with liberalism but something that could be shared and celebrated by all women.
. . .
"It's just nonsense to say you can't be a feminist and be against abortion," says former Clinton fundraiser and supporter Lynn Forester de Rothschild, who now backs McCain. "Democrats use [abortion] as a noose around your neck," says de Rothschild, who is in favor of abortion rights. "Sarah Palin," she says, "rocks all the stereotypes of feminism and can only enhance progress for women. "