Kathy Petersen’s Blog

Are Feminists Comfortable Being Women?

Posted in politics by Kathy on September 14, 2008


What has gotten this on my mind is Sarah Palin. I saw her give her VP acceptance speech (which was flawless), and I saw her interview with Charlie Gibson (click here for the full transcript, not the cut-and-paste job shown on TV), and a few other times, and she seems very comfortable as a woman. I think about the difference between her and, say, Hillary Clinton or other prominent liberal feminists, and it is striking. I remember the 80s “power suits” for women, and the shoulder pads to make women appear more like men, with masculine shoulders — strong and broad. I just looked on Google Images for pictures of Hillary Clinton, and while there were a few pictures on the first page or two of her in more feminine attire and/or with feminine hair, in the majority of the pictures she had hair and clothing that could only be called “masculinized.” Googling images of Sarah Palin brought page after page of her with hair and clothing that could never be confused with a man’s. And she seemed happy and comfortable, to boot; whereas so many of the pictures of Hillary showed her with stern expressions. It just makes me think that Hillary Clinton, like so many of her fellow liberals, is having to co-opt masculine qualities in order to “make it in a man’s world,” whereas Sarah Palin, like so many of her fellow conservatives, enjoys being a woman and enjoys being feminine, and feels quite comfortable bringing feminine qualities into areas dominated by men — and is succeeding in that world without giving up one feminine charm.

I’ve seen a “Piece of Flair” (if you’re on FaceBook, you probably know what I mean; if you don’t, it’s a little button with a picture or saying on it) that says, “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people men?” And if you see enough feminists, you’ll see that so many of them seem to fulfill that. Not all of them, of course. I’m email friends with many women who would proclaim themselves to be feminists, and love being wives and mothers, and relish feminine qualities… but so many feminists don’t. They look like men, dress like men, act like men. But suggest that they’re looking, dressing, or acting like men, and watch out! “Oh, no,” they’d proclaim, “this is just who I am!” or “this is what I’ve got to do/be/look like to succeed — it’s a man’s world, and I’ve got to fit in.” Tell that to Sarah Palin, who could very easily become the first female U.S. President, without losing any of her femininity.

Oh, and I’m sure there are so many feminists who are going to vote for Gov. Palin simply because she’s a woman, just like I saw feminists urging other women to vote for Hillary Clinton over Barak Obama simply because she’s a woman. Yeah, right.


2 Responses

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  1. a liberal feminist! said, on September 29, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    Well, I guess this depends on your view of “feminism”.
    If you view it as “long hair” and “soft clothes” then sure, Palin has that over Hillary. However, if you had paid attention when you were in school (you DID go, right?) you would have realized that “feminism” is not about what someone looks like, but more of what they believe in.

    You can call feminists “women trying to be men” but that just puts you in such a negative, ignorant slant. YOU are a woman, how can you not have some sort of feminism thoughts in that pretty little ol’ head of yours? (by the way, that was sarcasm.)

    I am a proud woman and guess what, I look like one too. I wear makeup. I wear dresses and high heals. I have long hair. And I work with a bunch of men in a highly male-dominated workforce.

    AND, I am a proud feminist because I am doing the job of 4 men. Yes, they fired 4 men and hired me to replace them. I am educated and am very good at what I do. I am also a wife and new mother.

    Being feminine does not equate to feminism. I suggest you do a little more reading in that area and you may be surprised that you probably have a little more feminism qualities than you care to admit 😉

    -signed, an extreme liberal feminist who will NOT be voting for Palin just because she is a woman (that’s absurd!). I won’t be voting for her because she scares the *beep* out of me.

    Obama/Biden 2008!!

    You are entitled to your opinion, but your tone is not acceptable. Also, you wear “high heels”, not “heals.” The end of my post — about liberals voting for Palin simply because she’s a woman — was obvious sarcasm (evidenced by the ending “Yeah, right”) — because although I saw some women advocating for voting for Hillary over Barack, simply because of her sex, I have yet to see the same types of comments for Palin. Which shows a double standard.

    I agree with you that “being feminine does not equate to feminism” — that was the whole point of my post, so I’m not really sure what you’re arguing about. I also said in my post (which I assume you must have just skimmed, and skipped part of a whole paragraph, because you certainly didn’t absorb it) that certainly not all self-proclaimed feminists co-opt masculine qualities of dress and attitude.

    I also agree with you that I probably have more feminist thoughts in my “pretty little head” than I’d care to admit — but I don’t let it override my feminine charms.

    You can be proud that you are doing the work of four men without being a feminist; and you can be proud of being a feminist without doing any work at all, let alone the work of four men. If you’re proud of your beliefs, then so be it. I’m glad you can be a feminist and remain feminine at the same time. I’ve seen women who don’t seem to be able to manage it, and I think that’s a shame.

  2. Skeptical_guy said, on March 31, 2009 at 4:34 am

    The argument above just further establishes the argument that a lot of feminist women seek to be competitive like men. Whenever something like this is posted and someone like ‘a liberal feminist’ comments its just like putting a foot in the feminist movement’s mouth.

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