The Fruits of Sarah Palin’s Labor

Clockwise from top-left: Jeri Thompson, Michelle Malkin, Christine O'Donnell, & Sarah Palin

The risk Sarah Palin took in sparking a feminist revolution on the right is paying off in some pretty amazing ways, setting off a wave of movement for women on the right. Most readers here are familiar with the criticism Palin has received from an obsessive left that pours out its aggressive brand of sexism (and classism) against her. We’re also familiar with the success of Palin-endorsed candidates, many of whom were women. What we’re not familiar with is the idea of a right standing defiant in the face of sexism from the left, the media, and its own ranks. That’s what we saw last week in the wake of Christine O’Donnell’s primary win, and as a lifelong feminist firmly on-board with the new pro-woman movement, it was extremely gratifying to watch. In the face of left-feminism’s catty call for exclusion, a chorus of voices on the right this week demonstrated why Palin’s conservative-feminist revolution is necessary and effective.

This wouldn’t have, and perhaps couldn’t have happened three short years ago. Women on the right might have noticed and even discussed sexism within their own ranks, but an article like the one published by Jeri Thompson, wife of former Republican Senator Fred Thompson, wouldn’t have been published. Mrs. Thompson is unapologetic in her indictment of the predominantly male hierarchy of power on the right and their over-the-top displays of sexism against Christine O’Donnell:

“The response by the Republican political establishment to the Christine O’Donnell victory over liberal Republican Mike Castle in Delaware has been an embarrassment. A strong, vocal woman upturned the political tables in Delaware, a state where both political parties have been run like blue-blooded patriarchies for the better part of half a century, and all the boys that compose “the establishment” can muster is omniscient edicts about her absolute un-electability in a general election.

Funny, I don’t recall hearing similar talk from the likes of Mssrs. Rove and Cornyn after Scott Brown won in Massachusetts, Joe Miller won in Alaska, or Rand Paul won in Kentucky.

The difference here is that once the primary was over, the political elites in Washington stood by their men. Why won’t they do it for the woman?”

The whole piece is worth a read. Thompson, however, is not the only one on the right speaking out against the sexist treatment of Christine O’Donnell, which I documented at the New Agenda here. Michelle Malkin promoted the Thompson piece on her blog, and linked to other conservative commentators discussing the subject. Her post was headed by a giant picture or Rosie the Riveter. A day later FOX News did a segment on whether female candidates are treated differently. Rush Limbaugh was cited complaining about sexism against conservative women from the left and the right. The same day Tim Graham of the conservative site Newsbusters complained about sexist and obscene language in reference to O’Donnell from female liberal radio host Randi Rhoades.

This is nothing short of amazing. Jeri Thompson is calling out sexism on the right, and using the word “patriarchies”! Malkin is posting pictures of Rosie the Riveter! Conservative men are calling out sexism! Do you think this could have happened before Sarah Palin? Before Hillary Clinton and 2008? Absolutely not. It’s not that women on the left and the right didn’t recognize that sexism existed; they just didn’t talk about it much. 2008 changed all that for a number of reasons.

Sexism in America was laid bare in the reactions to Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin. It was put on national display and was so overt that we’re still talking about it two years later. Books are still being written about it. And new trends are developing because of it. Chief among them are the feminist revolution happening on the right, and the feminist revolt within the left. This is particularly exciting for people like me, who don’t care what brand of feminism surges as long as tangible results are seen.

Sara Palin, “Queenmaker,” is obviously the biggest benefactor and beneficent of the movement on the right. The sexism leveled against her in 2008 came mostly from the left, and revolved largely around her sex/sexuality and reproductive capacity. Americans had the reality that young men on the left were okay calling conservative women such offensive terms as “cunt” shoved into their faces. Conspiracy theories about the birth of her young son and the hoopla surrounding how much money the McCain campaign had spent on clothing for her and her family are just two examples of the sexism inherent in media coverage of her campaign.

This, after a Democratic campaign season that laid bare the existence of sexism on the left, a surprising development considering how much noise Democrats have made about supporting women since it co-opted the second wave. The naked power plays of Team Obama and the Democratic power structure, which was also largely male, just to keep the woman down and out were evident to anyone paying a modicum of attention and who dared have the critical capacity to think for themselves.

It changed things for a lot of people, especially women, on the left and the right. A lot of us on the left became moderates or independents; many of us refused to be held hostage by the abortion debate anymore. Palin fought back, and she called on her conservative sisters to help, offering her help to them in return. It’s been a wildly successful strategy. I certainly think these two trends—Sarah’s feminist revolution, and the fracturing of feminism on the left and the resultant creation of a feminist center—have created the environment where this progress can flourish. They are the fruits of Sarah Palin’s labor.

They are also the reason feminists on the left are so vehement and critical. Palin’s brand of feminism can break the monopoly on women’s votes by the Democratic Party, that much is clear, and it’s clearly frightening judging by much of what they’ve written. But another issue is at play, and it doesn’t get discussed: women on the left are jealous. It isn’t the women of their party who are calling out sexism—2008 proved they didn’t much care until it was too late, and then they were proved hypocrites by their encouragement of sexist treatment against Palin. There is not and never has been a liberal equivalent to the new documentary film about conservative women, promoting them because they’re women, Fire from the Heartland. No prominent women on the left discuss their femininity, let alone feminism, like Sarah Palin does.

As Palin keeps going in her feminist revolution, we’ll see more and more of the kind of discourse we saw coming from conservative corners last week, and that is a good thing. When women of the first and second wave envisioned equality, they didn’t envision it just for women who looked, thought, and acted like they did; they yearned for it for all American women. Palin and other conservative women are helping deliver on that promise once again, and that may just be the most progenerative fruit of all.

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11 comments on “The Fruits of Sarah Palin’s Labor

  1. Toldjah. Women on the left are envious of the feminist awakening on the right.

  2. BevWKY says:

    As Palin keeps going in her feminist revolution, we’ll see more and more of the kind of discourse we saw coming from conservative corners last week, and that is a good thing.

    I’ll tell you something else. There’s an almost visible momentum to what’s happening at this point. Why do I say that?

    The sheer number of enraged “Papa Grizzlies” out there speaking up on behalf of Palin and other women in the political arena. They don’t see sexism as being left or right thing and they aren’t staying quiet any longer. They’re smacking this stuff down about as fast as the women. Sometimes faster.

    For example:
    http://caffeinatedthoughts.com/2010/09/tony-perkins-classy-comment-about-sarah-palin/

    • Nice catch on that link, Bev. I am just dumbfounded in a good way over all of this. I’m not jealous at all. I applaud it. But I think back five or six years ago, and I just never would have thought, ya know? We’ve needed to mainstream progress and equality for women, and I’m just tickled that Palin is finding a way to do it.

      • BevWKY says:

        It’s called unity we stand, divided we fall.

        Palin isn’t doing anything that conservatives haven’t believed for years, which is simply that we’re all Americans.

        Equal.

        It really is as simple as the fact that conservatism doesn’t believe in identity politics in any shape, form or fashion. Not Republicans, mind you, but conservatives. The Republican party leadership tends to compromise and play that game. Drives the conservative base crazy and the conservative base is larger than the party.

        Palin does not play that game. She believes in Americans. Period.

        Now think about how the left plays the game and if you don’t see what’s happening and why what she’s doing is working, you never will. Because the simple truth is that if we don’t fight together, we’ll never defeat any of our enemies, including sexist attutudes.

        • Bev, I don’t think you’ll find any objection here. I’ve been documenting for over two years how the left plays this game, and providing analysis for the effectiveness of Palin’s political influence.

          For the record, it’s not just conservatives (nor is it all conservatives) who believe we’re all Americans and in this together. Read my about page. I came from the left and moved to the center, renouncing all allegiance to parties along the way. There are a lot of people in the nonpartisan constituency.

  3. SWPAnnA says:

    No, I respectfully commend the women of the HRC camp, like Harriet Christianson who called out the DNC, the rigged Rules & By Laws Committee for their theft of the nomination to hand the country over to a Manchurian, an unaccomplished empty suit rather than permit a WOMAN of substance to preside. …to the Party Unity My Ass – Just Say No Deal Coalition that told the Democratic Party to expect to lose elections going forward: their votes are no longer a given to a Party that can ask:”Where else do they have to go?” We’ll vote for ANY woman before we ever again support a racist, sexist, coward with a creep agenda. The poor leadership by Speaker Pelosi is the biggest disappointment of all.

    • BevWKY says:

      I think the way Hillary Clinton was treated is also something that rankles with most conservatives in fundamental way, not because they like her as a candidate or simply because she was a woman. But because she’s a woman and it was threat to the democratic process.

      Look, i freely admit that with my belief structure and background that I doubt I could ever vote for her as President. A large part of that has very little to do with her and quite a but to do with Bill Clinton. I don’t want him anywhere near the White House again.

      So sue me. And then multiply me by untold thousands and millions of conservative from middle Americans. Because it’s the simple truth of the way we feel about him.

      Now, had she distanced herself from him in any way, I don’t honestly know how I would feel about her as an individual. I do know that I personally gained a new respect for her during the campaign and that was well before all the shenigans by the Obama side and the rest of the Democrats.

      And then the nomination was basically stolen from her, right in front of all of our eyes. I mean, it was rather difficult to miss. Make no mistake about it, there are plenty of conservatives out there like me that at least suspect the TEA Party movement started then when a very large, angry, vocal group of Democrats began to question what the heck was happening with their leaders and not months later.

      Ultimately, we don’t have to be able to or want to vote for each others candidates to want the process to be protected or the candidates themselves to have a fair shot and an equal playing field. That’s what justice and equality for all means. And those are just as much foundational American beliefs as not wanting more taxes and wanting to fix the economy.

      The treatment of Hillary was just as much a call to arms for women and men on the conservative side as was anyone else. It’s taken Sarah’s subsequent treatment and her ability to stand and fight back to harden our resolve.

      Will either of them ever be President? Not important. What’s important is the American people, We the People, have had enough of their crappy attitudes on a number of issues and if we have to weed out the attitudes one at a time, so be it. But if we have to roll over them in a tidal wave, then that can happen too.

  4. Prabhata says:

    I’m happy to see Palin and the right get so many women on the ballot, but I think GOP establishment, who are mostly men, will turn against Palin with the same force that we saw in 2008 against Hillary, if Palin decides to run for the presidency. The men believe that women are supposed to clear the path and help men get elected, not compete with them.

    • You could very well be right, Prabhata, and only a fool would discount the idea. Nevertheless, I think net gains will be made with a Republican Party comprised of more women. There will still be reform, just as there has still been reform on the left as a result of diversity. This isn’t JFK’s Democratic white male Party anymore. It won’t be Richard Nixon’s very soon. I’d rather push for radical and incremental change.

      Good to see you again!

  5. Sanddollar says:

    Interesting article over at Politico on how O’Donnell’s been treated:

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1010/44365.html

    NOW even commented after keeping silent for far too long….Yes, that’s right – NOW actually did what they claim to exist to do – they defended a woman, and she wasn’t a Democrat. It was kind of weak, but I’m shocked, all the same.

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