Now I get it.
Thank you, Senator McCain, for clarifying (finally!) your reasons for your choice for vice president on Fox News Sunday:
Chris Wallace: As a cold political calculation, hasn’t Gov. Palin become a drag on your ticket? Senator John McCain: As a cold political calculation, I could not be more pleased. … She is a direct counterpoint to the liberal feminist agenda for America.
Whew. I knew all those pundits were wrong when they speculated early on that tapping a woman would win over disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters. I mean, how cynical can you get about why someone would choose a running mate?
I question whether we have two kinds of feminism today. Is a red-state feminist different from a blue-stater?
And remember how Senator McCain once said, “She knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America"? Today on Fox that was downgraded to, “She knows energy better than, certainly, most people in Washington.” Scratch energy as a defining qualification.
No, we are now told flat out that part of Governor Palin’s value on the ticket is to counter the—what was that again?—‘liberal feminist agenda.”
I checked around to see what that agenda might be.
“Lock men up and throw away the key?” was the sardonic response of one successful media woman whose standing among her male peers is second only to that among her grandchildren.
“Overthrowing patriarchy for starters, doncha’ think?” answered another.
The F-word can land you in trouble when you don’t know what it means. In fact, I suspect that Senator McCain’s hostility towards feminism might surprise his running mate. In one of her interviews with Katie Couric, Governor Sarah Palin unhesitatingly joined the club.
Katie Couric: Do you consider yourself a feminist? Gov. Palin: I do. A feminist who believes in equal rights
Whoops. That doesn’t sound like counterpoint to anything.
Full disclosure, in case you hadn’t noticed: I also consider myself a feminist, which means I believe that women have rights and responsibilities equal to those of men. Nothing more, nothing less. I like to quote the author Alice Duer Miller, a witty suffragist during the first wave of feminism, when women were trying to win the right to vote:
Mother, what is a Feminist? A Feminist, my daughter, Is any woman now who cares To think about her own affairs As men don't think she oughter.
But wait, as they say on TV, there’s more: In her interview with the CBS anchor, Governor Palin expanded her declaration of feminism by saying, “And I believe that women certainly today have every opportunity that a man has, to succeed, and to try to do it all, anyway. And very, very thankful that I’ve been brought up in a family where gender hasn’t been an issue. You know, I’ve been expected to do everything growing up that the boys were doing—we’re out chopping wood and we’re out hunting and fishing and filling our freezer with good wild Alaskan game to feed our family, so it kind of started with that.”
Calamity Jane notwithstanding, the implication that the gender wars are over—and won—has been called, depending on your source, “red state feminism,” “gridiron feminism” (Camille Paglia), “authentic” feminism (Dick Morris), or “real” feminism (as opposed to “counterfeit,” “blue state,” or—Senator McCain again—“liberal” feminism).
Mary Matalin defined feminism this way to David Gregory on MSNBC:
"There’s the kind of Wellesley, liberal, abortion-first women. And then there’s feminist women who care about jobs and juggling the whole thing, and lower taxes and security, and Wal-Mart moms, and all the rest of it. That’s who Sarah Palin connects with."
Careful, Mary, I went to Wellesley. And I question whether we have two kinds of feminism today. Is a red-state feminist different from a blue-stater? Don’t most women worry about juggling and “all the rest of it”?
And if so, how come fewer than twenty percent of Americans identify themselves as feminists—of any hue—according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll last June?
More to the point, if the F-word is so toxic, how successful has Senator McCain’s anti-feminist tactic been? In the newest ABC News/Washington Post Poll, 52 percent of the likely voters interviewed say that the choice of Sarah Palin makes them less confident in Senator McCain’s decision-making as president. When you ask the question by gender, women (56 percent), more than men (49 percent), say it weakens their trust in him. The poll did not ask if they were feminists.