Archive for the ‘Feminism’ Category

Stop Expecting Conservatives to Give Up Their Identities

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

Originally published at Every Joe

As a libertarian-conservative, I generally agree with the assertion put forth by my fellow ideological travelers that the left takes identity politics to an absurd extreme. Too many liberals expect fealty to an ideology of ever-expanding government as an expression of loyalty to one’s race, gender, or class. I’ve penned many a diatribe rejecting this premise, noting that it’s not only possible, but sensible to identify fully with one’s community or background while repudiating the idea that the hiring of yet another government bureaucrat is a solution to the social ill du jour. Most conservatives and libertarians, when the argument is presented in that way, will nod their heads in agreement. But when you drill down into specifics, too many appear to conflate any acknowledgment of cultural or social identity outside of their own mainstream with the left’s more extreme form of actual identity politics.

Over the last several years, I’ve spent a lot of time talking to friends made through my work in politics who come from groups that the left categorizes as marginalized. As a result, I’ve gained a great deal of valuable perspective through both these conversations themselves and observation of how these individuals are treated in the broader conservative movement. What a lot of people on the right either don’t want to see (or are blinded to due to the circumstances of their own lives) is that the left, despite their tiresome policing of language and endless desire to grow government, has a point: It is harder, on balance, for women and people of color to get ahead. It’s also true that mainstream society and politics have been, historically speaking, dominated by white men. Naturally, culture has in turn followed the same trajectory. Despite obvious social progress and inclusion of others in relatively recent history, changes in this arena never happen overnight.

To be abundantly clear, I’m not suggesting that every white man “has it easy” or that their perspectives are less valuable than anyone else’s. I’m not a fan of the left’s attempt to silence debate by saying that only certain people are allowed to hold opinions on various topics, and I’ve always been a strong advocate of honoring the hard work every person engages in, regardless of their background. But what appears to escape far too many conservatives and libertarians, is that it’s difficult for individuals from the aforementioned groups to feel welcome in a movement where too many people tell us daily that our experiences and perspectives are invalid because they stray from a mainstream that is by default, and through no individual fault of any one person, white-male centric.

When you tell a conservative woman who is inspired by Carly Fiorina’s empowering vision of what feminism ought to stand for that she’s engaging in identity politics, you’re making her feel as if she’s wrong for embracing a fundamental part of herself. When you tell a young libertarian who praises the first woman of color to win an Emmy that she must be a liberal for identifying with someone of the same background explaining how she fought against the odds to be where she is, you’re denying her the very essence of her being. When you tell a black Republican to stop talking about the violence, unrest, and police brutality he sees on the streets everyday, you’re denigrating the people and places he loves; expecting him to abandon his culture and community.

By engaging in these behaviors you are also, consciously or not, pushing people who share your overall perspective on policy away from your political movement. You’re denying those who agree with the premise that government ought to be limited, the basic dignity of a perspective that is, and should be, different from your own. What you’re ultimately doing is driving people who ought to be your allies into the arms of an abusive political relationship with the left; because at least there – authoritarian policies that damage the very people they love be damned – they aren’t constantly berated for refusing to give up who they are. And remember, most people will choose culture and community over complicated policy that almost nobody has the time to wrap their heads around. Keep that in mind the next time you look around the room at a center-right political meeting and wonder where the minorities are.

The fact is, you never hear charges of “identity politics” automatically levied at white men who happen to support or admire other white men. And to be clear, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with looking up to people who share your experiences or background; I’m acknowledging the fact that it’s natural. As people, we draw inspiration from those we identify with and strive to emulate. That’s the premise of role models. And while I agree with the quintessentially libertarian point that the smallest minority is the individual, it doesn’t mean I reject the fact that we as units make up different, diverse communities, often based on fundamental and shared characteristics.

What many on the right would do well to understand is that there’s nothing wrong with allowing people’s diverse backgrounds to shape their viewpoints and perspectives. These don’t need to be cast aside to embrace conservatism or libertarianism. Instead of rejecting anything outside of your frame of reference as “identity politics,” take a moment to listen to people who are fundamentally different from you. Perhaps you’ll learn that you too engage in your own form of “identity politics” on a daily basis – it’s just that no one notices because in doing so, you’re simply going with the mainstream flow.

And by all means, as you genuinely listen to others, particularly your fellow conservatives, continue to mock the left for its absurdities. Liberals deserve every moment of ridicule they get for their hapless policies that encourage dependency rather than progress – just as they’ve earned criticism for using the realities of what marginalized groups face as means to shut down debate and avoid political accountability. Remember though, that the left wants nothing more than for conservatives to deal with their behavior by being reactionary to the point of alienating everyone who isn’t, as they like to say, “old, rich, white, and male.” Don’t let liberals’ abuse of identity politics allow you as a conservative to fulfill their prophecy and drive those of us who don’t fit that bill out of the movement. Because the reality is, we often feel unwanted. Help to change that by opening your mind, listening to others, and creating a welcoming space for people who, in many ways are fundamentally unlike you. Absent those prerequisites, the left will win.

Megyn Kelly, Carly Fiorina, and Conservative Feminism

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

Originally published at Every Joe

I consider myself a feminist. No, not the government-dependency pushing, man-hating kind. I’m the type who simply believes in both social and political equality between the genders, and thinks those who say all of the work is done in these areas are hopelessly naive.

The truth is any politically active woman is to an extent a feminist. Without feminism, we wouldn’t even have the right to vote, not to mention access to positions of power in both business and government. Absent feminism, we would be subjugated by “traditional” gender roles, like it or not. The women of our generation undoubtedly owe a debt of gratitude to the strong feminists who came before us.

For me, the first Republican presidential debate and its aftermath brought just those types of feminist thoughts to the forefront. I watched both the “happy hour” debate, featuring candidates who hadn’t polled well enough to make the top-tier, and the primetime event itself. The amount of drama surrounding the two women involved was enough to put me in rant-mode.

As the evening wound down, I posted the following on Facebook (edited slightly for atypically bad language use in public; feel free to read the original here).

“Feminist thoughts post-debate:

There’s a contingent of conservative women who reject the victim mentality of the left. We hate that we’re expected to accept government dependency as penance for the very real sexism that does exist in our day to day lives. How is reliance on a government made up of men empowering? We recognize that it’s not. Many of us think that to overcome the very real chains of sexism, it’s incumbent upon us to be independent thinkers and achievers. It’s what leads us to reject the Democratic Party sycophants who suggest that as a gender, we’re too weak to make it on our own, thus need to be subsidized by government men. No, we don’t, actually. We’re fine without you throwing scraps at us, thank you very much. We’re the ones who scraped by to raise the men currently claiming to lead this generation. Feel free to thank us for that.

So what about the concept of actually making it on our own as women? What about the fact that we’re expected to ignore the soft bigotry we face everyday, in the form of men treating us like less-than in political settings? Republican ladies, don’t pretend you don’t experience this on a day-to-day basis. The standing there amongst your male colleagues, when another man joins the group and he acknowledges you last if at all, barely making eye contact, assuming you’re someone’s spouse rather than a successful political operative? You know this reality, because you experience it everyday. But you don’t whine about it publicly, because you’re there to make it despite the obstacles. You’re there to face that passive sexism head on and prove you’re better than it.

This is what I wish men would understand about the camaraderie that women create with each other; especially among us conservatives. It transcends policy. Do I agree with everything women like Megyn Kelly or Carly Fiorina say about every issue? No, not at all. But as a woman who, whether you want to acknowledge it or not, is treated with kid gloves in the conservative political world, strong women who don’t take crap resonate with me. Megyn Kelly and Carly Fiorina are incredible people. These are fearless women who take men on, acknowledge the existence of sexism as a pervasive obstacle we need to overcome as a gender, but say screw it, I’m going in anyway. That’s inspiring. That’s empowering. That’s feminism.

I strongly believe that libertarian-conservative women are on the front lines of feminism, defending our fellow females as powerful political contributors. It’s why I loved Megyn Kelly calling Donald Trump out for his misogynist commentary tonight; because IT MATTERS. She stood as a lone voice for women, telling millions of clueless Fox viewers that, yes, women actually do care whether or not you insult our entire gender. We’re strong swing voters; you won’t win without us.

A message of self-reliance and independence resonates with women. We are, after all, the world’s child bearers. And not only do we give birth to you, we host popular cable news shows; we run giant corporations; we run for PRESIDENT. So if you’re wondering why Carly Fiorina is going to see a giant boost in her poll ratings after today, look beyond policy. Look at the fact that millions of women are inspired by the lady in hot pink who stood alone in the face of men who, on paper, should be more successful than she is. Yet Carly kicked every single one of their butts. That’s feminism. And Hillary Clinton is rightfully scared to death by it.

Pay attention. Because it’s about to get real.”

As it turns out, my reaction to Fiorina’s performance was an opinion almost universally held among viewers. She truly killed it. I even tweeted during the debate, perhaps somewhat hyperbolically, that Carly was the only grown woman on a stage full of little boys. A week later, as predicted, she’s reaping the benefits; tied at 9% with Scott Walker.

After Carly of course, came the big show. In my opinion, the primetime debate rightfully featured tough questions aimed at each candidate, as indicated by my debate-night reaction to the Kelly-Trump spat. No man was spared, which frankly, made the post-debate social media whining about “hatchet jobs” more than a little disingenuous.

Nevertheless, Kelly was inevitably attacked by Trump for doing what she and the moderators did to every other candidate: dare to hold them accountable. And she wasn’t just attacked in the milquetoast way men are. Her sexuality and gender were inevitably brought into the mix. And those qualities were predictably savaged in a manner that society reserves for female public figures.

To provide context, Kelly said to Trump: “One of the things people love about you is you speak your mind and you don’t use a politician’s filter. However that is not without its downsides, in particular when it comes to women. You’ve called women you don’t like fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals.”

Trump demurred. “That was only about Rosie O’Donnell,” he said. Even if that were the case, which it isn’t, it wouldn’t make his commentary any less misogynistic. In response, Kelly doubled down: “No, it wasn’t. Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women’s looks. You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice that it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees.”

Thin-skinned as ever, Trump told Kelly, “I’ve been very nice to you, but I could probably not be, based on the way you’re treating me,” apparently unaware of the tough questions asked of the candidates flanking him. Lacking self-awareness and manners as usual, Trump took to Twitter:

Really? A woman is open about her sexuality – like men are constantly – and suddenly, because she dares to admit she sleeps with her husband, deserves the misogynistic commentary Trump treated her to?

“I don’t have a lot of respect for Megyn Kelly, she’s a lightweight,” said Trump to CNN’s Don Lemon. “She gets out, and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions. And you know, you can see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”

As Carly Fiorina, who was also attacked by Trump, eloquently put it:

“As I made my way up in the business world, a male-dominated business world, I’ve had lots of men imply that I was unfit for decision-making because maybe I was having my period. So I’ll say it, okay? When I started this campaign, I was asked on a national television show whether a woman’s hormones prevented her from serving in the Oval Office. My response was, can we think of a single instance in which a man’s hormones might have clouded his judgment? My point is, women understood that comment and yes, it’s offensive.”

Looking at all that’s transpired this week, it’s safe to say the enduring need for feminism is clearer than ever. And this should be an issue that transcends politics. As liberal writer Mary Elizabeth Williams stated in a piece defending Megyn Kelly at Salon:

“When women on the right are attacked with the kind of disgusting, sexist trolling I’ve certainly seen aimed at them — mocked for their looks, dismissed for not being bang-worthy, called vile names — it’s as gross and wrong as when it happens to women on the left. We don’t any lose credibility for supporting their right to not be intimidated. It’s our duty to do so.”

Feminist Thoughts Post Republican Debate

Friday, August 7th, 2015

There’s a contingent of conservative women who reject the victim mentality of the left. We hate that we’re expected to accept government dependency as penance for the very real sexism that does exist in our day to day lives. How is reliance on a government made up of men empowering? We recognize that it’s not. Many of us think that to overcome the very real chains of sexism, it’s incumbent upon us to be independent thinkers and achievers. It’s what leads us to reject the Democratic Party sycophants who suggest that as a gender, we’re too weak to make it on our own, thus need to be subsidized by government men. No, we don’t, actually. We’re fine without you throwing scraps at us, thank you very much. We’re the ones who scraped by to raise the men currently claiming to lead this generation. Feel free to thank us for that.

So what about the concept of actually making it on our own as women? What about the fact that we’re expected to ignore the soft bigotry we face everyday, in the form of men treating us like less-than in political settings? Republican ladies, don’t pretend you don’t experience this on a day-to-day basis. The standing there amongst your male colleagues, when another man joins the group and he acknowledges you last if at all, barely making eye contact, assuming you’re someone’s spouse rather than a successful political operative? You know this reality, because you experience it everyday. But you don’t bitch about it publicly, because you’re there to make it despite the obstacles. You’re there to face that passive sexism head on and prove you’re better than it.

This is what I wish men would understand about the camaraderie that women create with each other; especially among us conservatives. It transcends policy. Do I agree with everything women like Megyn Kelly or Carly Fiorina say on a policy basis? No, not at all. But as a woman who, whether you want to acknowledge it or not, is treated with kid gloves in the conservative political world, strong women who don’t take shit resonate with me. Megyn Kelly and Carly Fiorina are goddamn badasses. These are fearless women who take men on, acknowledge the existence of sexism as a pervasive obstacle we need to overcome as a gender, but say fuck it, I’m going in anyway. That’s inspiring. That’s empowering. That’s feminism.

I strongly believe that libertarian-conservative women are on the front lines of feminism, defending our fellow females as powerful contributors who matter in politics. It’s why I loved Megyn Kelly calling Donald Trump out for his misogynist commentary tonight; because IT MATTERS. She stood as a lone voice for women, telling millions of clueless Fox viewers that, yes, women actually do care whether or not you insult our entire gender. We’re strong swing voters; you won’t win without us.

A message of self-reliance and independence resonates with women. We are, after all, the world’s child bearers. And not only do we give birth to you, we host popular cable news shows; we run giant corporations; we run for President. So if you’re wondering why Carly Fiorina is going to see a giant boost in her poll ratings after today, look beyond policy. Look at the fact that millions of women are inspired by the lady in hot pink who stood alone in the face of men who on paper, should be more successful than she is. Yet Carly kicked every single one of their asses. That’s feminism. And Hillary Clinton is rightfully scared shitless by it.

Pay attention. Because it’s about to get real.

Sexist “Feminists” Are At It Again

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

I see it all over facebook; groups proclaiming “Sarah Palin is No Hillary Clinton.”

Really? A conservative isn’t a liberal? What amazing news!

…. But wait, I thought all women involved in politics were ordained to have the exact same views! That’s what post-modern feminist theory espouses. Modern “feminists,” obsessed to an absurd extent with gender, expect women as a “class” (thanks, Marxism) to unite and together fight the ongoing oppression of “female values,” as if all women have the same views and needs simply because of their sexual designation.

This is what I absolutely cannot STAND about (some, not all) modern, far-left wingers. They are so obsessed with race, gender, class and other such various GROUP classifications that nearly all respect for the individual is lost. Of course, I’m not saying that studying race, class and gender doesn’t yield valuable information – we can’t deny that historically, many people were oppressed; but let’s be rational and try to balance these findings with reality ….

If Sarah Palin had the same ideology and beliefs, but were a man, would there be cries that she’s not as good as Hillary Clinton? I doubt it, because the only reason these comparisons are being drawn is because they both happen to have an x chromosome – and that my friends, is sexist.

These “feminists” think that they represent the cutting edge of some bold, post-modern movement, when in reality, they are simply alienating the average American who respects individual autonomy, and can separate someone’s views from their age, gender, class, etc (the list goes on and on) …

They’re right – Sarah Palin is no Hillary Clinton … and thank God for that. She hasn’t played the gender card to get where she is … And if you dislike her because she’s conservative and you’re liberal, fine – but don’t bash her for being a strong REPUBLICAN woman. Believe it or not, “feminists,” there are some women who can think for themselves politically and make it in the world because they are respected for who they are as individuals, not as the representative for some sexist agenda that seeks to group people based on gender rather than merit.

You don’t hear those who can respect her as an individual obsessing over Sarah’s gender (whether or not they agree with her; I definitely don’t share her views on everything). But, you hear it from an unfortunately large chunk of select liberals who hate the idea that conservatives could be “progressive” (in that women aren’t oppressed by ‘evil white rich men’ within the Republican party as they’d like to think for their own political purposes).

Maybe it’s just jealousy … But whatever it is I hope the left-wing factions obsessing over her being a female begin to realize that what they are doing does a great disservice to the term feminism … It’s why throughout this blog I’ve put feminist in quotes to describe these misguided leftists, because you can’t really be pro-woman if you discredit a fellow female for not adhering to YOUR political agenda.

For the love of God, these extremists need to wake up and realize that not every strong woman HAS to be liberal. She doesn’t have to fit the Hillary mold to deserve respect, and the fact that so many apparently jealous “feminists” (men and women included), seem to think she does to gain respect as a woman is one of the most sexist and disrespectful sentiments I’ve heard in awhile … It actually offends me, not as a woman, but as a reasonable individual who can look past a person’s gender in my judgements of them.

And to even further my point – people have been speculating that perhaps McCain chose her simply because she’s a woman … BUT even if he did (which would only further prove my theory that he’s a Democrat who accidentally registered Republican), that doesn’t mean Palin herself, as an individual, should be judged for that possibility. The truth is that she’s a powerful, bold conservative woman. They do exist, and just because ridiculous extremists like Nancy Pelosi feel personally threatened by that (see her comments on the women of America “deserving better”) doesn’t mean that politically demeaning someone because of their gender suddenly becomes non-sexist because it fell from the lips of a liberal.

When will the madness stop? Let’s get over sexism, and judge people based on meaningful qualities, like ideology and character.