Gloria Steinem, Kathleen Parker weigh in on feminism and abortion
The role of feminism in the current election season has been a go-to topic for pundits as of late (this girl included), with everyone from Jessica Valenti to Ross Douthat putting in their two cents on the crop of Republican women vying for elected office.
Now the world’s most famous feminist, Gloria Steinem, is having her say. She spoke to Katie Couric about Sarah Palin’s grab at the feminist mantle, saying that while “we’re free to call ourselves whatever we wish,” but that Palin’s use of the word has more to do with vying for votes than with any sort of commitment to feminist principles. “Yes, you can be a feminist who doesn’t agree with abortion … but you can’t be a feminist who says that other women can’t.”
That other women, such as Palin, want to reframe the abortion debate in new feminist terms, arguing that abortion hurts women and is, therefore, anti-woman, doesn’t bother me a bit. And it shouldn’t bother older-school feminists.
Still, Parker – like Douthat before her, confuses feminists’ anger over Palin and her doppelgangers. Feminists aren’t angry because there are Republican women out there – they’re angry because they’re using feminism to court votes, while espousing views that fly in the face of feminism. Writes Parker: “One can find other reasons to think Palin shouldn’t be president, but being a pro-life woman shouldn’t be one of them.” To this, I’ll simply let Steinem do the talking: “One in three women will need an abortion sometime during her life. To make that criminal and dangerous is not a feminist act.”
Both women can’t resist condescending to the sisters who don’t agree with them. Of Republicans like Carly Fiorina, Steinem says she “defend[s] their right to be wrong.” And Parker reacts snottily to the many feminists bloggers who have written more eloquently and been out in front on this issue from the get-go: “left-leaning feminists in the blogosphere have responded breathlessly, which I mention only to suggest passion rather than to imply debutante tendencies, though who can be sure?”
Guess cattiness runs deep on both sides of the aisle.