September 17, 2008

Reason on Palin

Cathy Young, a `contributing editor' of the libertarian magazine Reason, has a piece in said magazine arguing that Sarah Palin is `a feminist hero'. Why? Let's work through the list.
  1. While anti-abortion, she belongs to a group called Feminists for Life.

    Feminists for Life's feminist credentials are themselves a little sketchy. Not too long ago, FfL's website prominently featured long-since-disproven and dubious claims about, for example, connections between abortion and breast cancer and abortion and depression. They've since removed these claims, but at the very least a sceptical eyebrow should be raised.

  2. more representation for feminism across the spectrum of political beliefs is a good thing

    This is question-begging. Of course women can and do disagree about all kinds of beliefs. And of course feminists support women making up their own minds. But this doesn't mean that any woman with political beliefs is ipso facto a feminist.

  3. Palin is a mother of five who resumed an intensive work schedule days after giving birth, and whose husband seems to be a full partner.

    Fair enough. But it's one thing for Palin to be a symbol of a successful balance between family and career and another for her policy positions to give other women the same opportunities. And given McCain's opposition to the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (I can't find any solid information on what Palin thinks of Ledbetter), comprehensive sex ed, expanded federal education funding, etc., it's hard to see what policies she could support that would give other women these same opportunities.

  4. the hypocrisy of feminist liberals who deploy sexist weapons against her

    At this point in the piece, Young has apparently decided she'd rather attack `the feminists' than defend Palin. But fine, let's see what these sexist attacks are: Novelist Jane Smiley called Palin `arrogant'. A sex educator/UU minister and the former editor of Cosmopolitan, Glamour, YM and Us Weekly both called her a bad mother. And Gary Kamiya wrote a piece on Salon about Palin titled `The Dominatrix'.

    Maybe Young just doesn't understand that there are subtle but important distinctions between feminists, women, and Gary Kamiya?

  5. The Biden-sponsored VAWA represents a toxic mix of gender-war feminism that treats such crimes as acts of patriarchal oppression rather than individual wrongdoing, and paternalism that sees women as deserving of special protection

    This tangent seems to have mutated into a non sequitur.

  6. Palin represents by far the better version of female empowerment

    This is from the penultimate sentence of the piece, which suggests it's something like the thesis. It's hard to see what it has to do with the `Palin is a feminist hero' claim. I guess it's the thesis of the second part of the piece, where Young suddenly starts talking about VAWA and Joe Biden's toxic feminism. Up until that point, we didn't really seem to have anything on the table about contrasting versions of feminism.

    On the other hand, she never says anything at all about what Palin thinks about VAWA. So she clearly can't think that the last point was an argument for this one. You can't support a compare-and-contrast thesis without talking about both sides. So maybe the contrast is between the hypocritical sexist attacks used by various non-feminist `feminists' against Palin and the non-hypocritical sexist attacks used by Palin against Clinton earlier this year?

I have no idea. I'm going to go play Spore.

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