June 30, 2011 / feminism, Leadership, Politics, Uncategorized, Unity

Is ‘Feminism’ going Chapter 11?


Republished from The Huffington Post.

Last summer, I wrote an article here at HuffPost, Why the ‘Pro-Women’ Movement Should and Will Replace Feminism.   Sarah Palin had just declared herself a ‘conservative feminist,’ while endorsing a slew of diverse women candidates and working to get them elected.  I found her efforts to get more women into leadership, admirable.  The women who apparently own the term “feminist” vehemently disagreed with me.  Rather than welcome Palin with a sisterly embrace, they pursued her with machetes of words for daring to utter their sacred “F word.”

The vitriolic reaction by the coterie of women who have anointed themselves (some might say, hijacked) the voice of feminism defies both logic and common sense.   Put another way, it’s simply bad business.  A stated goal of feminism is gender equality.  Yet, how can feminism get us there while excluding half the gender?  Gender equality is impossible to achieve within a framework in which some women are viewed as less worthy, less equal.  Until and unless feminism is willing to meaningfully address this incongruity,  feminism may be headed for extinction.  Feminism will be replaced by the  Pro-Women Movement, which is following a simple business ethos:  provide the customer with what she wants.  And as with most start-up brands, the Pro-Women was spurred by an unfilled need.

The feminists so eager to exclude conservative women from their clique won the battle, Palin backed off; but, sadly, they lost the war.  GOP women decided they didn’t need to be “feminists” after all.  Yesterday, Rep Michelle Bachmann told The Daily Beast that she does not consider herself a feminist, but she is “pro-woman.” 

Last week, Rep Kristi Noem told Greta Van Susteren (1:50) she too is not a feminist, but is “pro-woman.”  In fact, Noem took to the House floor with other GOP congresswomen to let women to know that her party is “Pro-Women” and will fight for women on today’s women’s issues.  Noem welcomed all women to join her:  a very appealing and positive message which could attract even more women voters in 2012.  This after the shocking 16 point migration of women voters to the GOP from 2008 to 2010.

Where did feminism go so terribly wrong?

Post the 2008 Presidential Election, 20% of women considered themselves feminists. At the same time, there was a historic opportunity to harness the depth of women’s anger in the aftermath of Hillary Clinton’s and Sarah Palin’s campaigns. To rally all women around their awakening to gender bias in the media, in the workplace and in our society generally.  Tina Brown challenged:    So passe is “feminism” that the bi-partisan woman’s activist group New Agenda, formed by Amy Siskind in August after Hillary’s defeat, is canvassing for new names to re-invigorate the cause (suggestions gratefully received).

Changing the F-word alone would not save feminism.  But changing its framework to be inclusive of all women looking for help would have been fruitful for increasing participation in feminism.   Legions of women were stark raving mad at the biased treatment Clinton and Palin received not only in the media, but also by the boys’ club establishment in the DNC and RNC.   Women’s anger and passion for change provided fertile ground for social change.  Palin supporters took the opportunity to act out their outrage by becoming activists in the Tea Party Movement and bucking the establishment.  As so, 2010 became The Year of GOP Women, with a possible follow up bang in 2012 with a female GOP candidate for president.  As Chris Matthews (of all people) notedRep. Bachmann is going to make a real bang in this coming election season… Bet on the pitchforks to take it from the country clubbers. Those pitchforks are Pro-Women.

And what of Clinton supporters?  The legions of women who felt they no longer had a home in their party.  Among Clinton supporters, there was a rather widely held view that women’s groups (and many feminist) were either ineffectual or complicit in Clinton’s demise, preferring candidate Obama.   The women claiming the mantle of feminism did little to heal these wounds, excoriating Clinton supporters for their criticism of President Obama.  One particularly spiteful Obama supporting feminist coined the term “Clinton dead-enders” for those loyal to Clinton, leading the charge for more Clinton supporter bashing and exclusion.

Since most Clinton supporters were silenced and had no means to act out, they chose instead to act in.  More like a raft afloat.  Each wave washing them further from political ideology.   2010 was the first year since exit polling was taken that women went GOP.  But a closer peek, reveals a truth:  Women, 60 and Over, the largest and most reliable voting block, shifted from +6 D in 2008 to +12 R in 2010.  The second largest voting block, Women, 45-59 went from +10 D in 2008, to tie.   These are Hillary’s women.

There is one place that is making a home for all women, and that is the Pro-Women Movement.  It’s last call for feminism:  go inclusive or go extinct.

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  • Henrietta

    Great article!!!!

    It would be nice to see Democratic women have the same momentum as Republican women! But to do so would force Democratic women to admit that women’s political representation is important and we cannot depend on male politicians to simply refer to a bullet point or two of women’s issues.

    In terms of the feminists who used their influence to show bias AGAINST Hillary and for Obama during 08, shame on them. I will never forgive Feministing for their subtle and not so subtle digs at Hillary during ’08 to the point that one of their feature writers, Courtney Martin, published an article in Glamour Magazine where she stated that she couldn’t vote for Hillary because Hillary reminded her of being scolded by her mother. Great! Feminists would not vote for Hillary because they were reminded of their mothers.


    These wounds run deep. I think of pro-woman as being pro women’s representation while having various ideology in terms of what is best for women and their families. I would not consider Bachmann a feminist and do not like much of her policy or her extreme choice of words on certain issues. But I admire her as a power player in the world of politics and as I always say… better a Bachmann than a Huckabee! Whether you like Bachmann or not she is unique from male politicians in that she brings her experiences as a woman and as a mother to the table. And that is good for women.

  • Bes

    “a truth: Women, 60 and Over, the largest and most reliable voting block, shifted from +6 D in 2008 to +12 R in 2010. The second largest voting block, Women, 45-59 went from +10 D in 2008, to tie.”

    Well that’s no problem for the Dems! they can always threaten us with loss of our reproductive freedom if we don’t vote for them! ROFLMAO

  • yttik

    ROFL! Funny, Bes.

    Women really do need to unite. It’s maddening how feminism has become so fractured. I remain really frustrated that today’s feminism has taken such a left turn that politics now seem to trump feminist principles every time.

    At the moment some feminists are on the Bachmann bashing wagon and it’s kind of sad that they can’t see that even if they don’t agree with her politics, she is pounding a path that will make it easier for other women to run for office. It’s upside down world right now, we’re supposed to support people like John Edwards and Anthony Weiner, while attacking people like Bachmann and Palin. I just don’t get it.

  • Bes

    Or the Dems could always tell women voters age 45 to 90 that liberal men won’t like us and won’t want us or think we are cool if we don’t line up and call Hillary a hag, Sarah a cunt and Michelle a flake. Because women aged 45 to 90 care sooo much about what men think….Undemure cackle! Or here’s a good one, if we vote for Obama, Michelle Obama (and I don’t mind Michelle one way or the other)will provide us all with fashion leadership which is women’s major political concern…..

    Don’t you wonder what the Dems approach to mature women formerly known as Democrats will be as we lead up to 2012? I’m betting they are too stupid to know there is a problem.

  • Anna Belle

    From Maya Angelou’s Facebook wall today:

    “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

    This is what Democrats failed to realize in 2008. It’s too late now.

  • Anna Belle

    FTR, Angelou’s quote is also what those exclusive feminist fail to realize. Lost the war indeed.

  • marille

    this Angelou quote really sums it up. so true.

  • Laddie_Blah_Blah


    I had never heard of you or of your efforts until today. How refreshing to learn about your efforts and your welcoming, inclusive movement.

    Do you have an auxiliary for men?

  • http://www.thenewagenda.net/ Amy Siskind

    Laddie_Blah_Blah – we don’t need an auxiliary – men are welcome as members of The New Agenda and we have many!