Right-wing feminism

Naomi Wolf has an interesting article about right-wing feminism on the Project Syndicate blog, in which she discusses the popularity of Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann.  Ms Wolf argues that right-wing women crave equality just as strongly as left-wing women, the difference being that they seek equality through individualism and the free market.

“Feminism” means many things and is used to refer to political philosophies which differ widely. While I’m not a fan* of either Ms Palin or Ms Bachmann, I can happily believe that they share my desire for equality.  For too long feminism has been “claimed” by a particular group — but it’s such a powerful word that it should be able to be used by people from all political ideologies.

* I’m a liberal conservative, remember? I’m entirely for Hillary Clinton.


About feminismfortories

Moderate Tory, Liberal Feminist. Based in the UK.
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9 Responses to Right-wing feminism

  1. Charlotte Vere | Founder | Women On ... says:

    Or it may be that ‘feminism’ is such a toxic word for many that we need new terminology to take us forward and reclaim the ground which has been seized ‘in our name’?

    • That’s certainly one approach. But what would the word be? Is there a risk that the new word would be made toxic?

      Actually, I think “equality” remains by far the best word to describe what is needed. Every human being is fundamentally equal. We may all have different abilities, different strenghts and weeknesses, but the fact that we are all human gives us the same basic equality.

  2. lupapoeta says:

    I agree with Ms. Wolf. I feel that all feminists want equality, but seek it in very different ways. I wrote a blog about this trend last week on my ‘feminine feminist’ blog…talk about terminology that has negative connotations on both sides. So, yes, I also agree with the idea that the term ‘feminist’ comes with a range of negativity and I would even say misnomers. The best example of this is the time my twelfth grade students and I were talking about feministic literature and one student said to my statement that I am a feminist, ‘so that means you are a lesbian’! As an educator I try to ‘fight’ in a politically correct way for equality, but as an individual I am an outspoken liberal. Of course, the term ‘liberal’ is another dirty word in the United States.

    • lupapoeta says:

      I should clarify…I am heterosexual, but I respect, and have friends who are, lesbians. The idea that American 17 and 18 year olds were so misinformed they felt feminism and lesbianism was synonymous was disturbing to me as one is, obviously, political/social and the other is sexual preference. I had to clarify, but carefully so as not to be sued or fired:)

      • There’s an Ali G sketch where the joke is that Ali G gets the two confused. I’m not keen on Sacha Baron Cohen, but occassionally his characters make interesting points…

  3. Sue says:

    I couldn’t help wondering at Charlotte Vere’s robust – but undefined – condemnation of ‘feminism’ on Newsnight. All she could offer to explain her aversion to feminism was to report some urban myth, worthy of the Daily Mail, of feminists wanting fifty per cent of all firefighters to be female. Why do Conservatives want to rebrand everything? In this case they are avoiding a term which has been perfectly clear to people of all parties who have been quite reasonably working for women’s advancement for the last forty years. Of course, controlling language can mean controlling perceptions. Or do her language choices have a more sinister motive, that of deliberately fudging any potential opposition to some government policies? One of the interesting features of this government, and I suspect one of the abiding legacies of Coulson’s savvy reading of our class-ridden society, is its readiness to present polarities where there are none. We now have, for example, the deserving and undeserving poor, ‘excellent’ free schools (which are deemed to be excellent though they have only been in operation for a week!) and LA schools, the deserving and shirking infirm, feral youth and academy students – and now the unreasonable and undeserving feminists and women who just want to get ahead. Divide and rule. It works a treat.

  4. Pingback: New girl on the block? Not me. | Feminism For Tories

  5. To my mind, there are two major problems with the terms ‘feminism’ and ‘feminists’ for right-of centre women:

    – in the popular mind, the terms immediately evoke miserable man-hating left-of-centre women (in the modern era, in the UK, think lemon-chewing Harriet Harman, or Angela Eagle); or
    – because the terms have so many meanings, they arguably have none.

    The ambition to launch a movement for women which isn’t extremely left-wing is a noble one; why would you want to expend all your time, resources, and energy in the unwinnable battle to re-define the terms? It would be like Lefties trying to revive the terms ‘socialism’ or ‘communism’. They’re just too toxic.

    A final thought. I believe that in almost all cases Women’s Studies and Gender Studies university courses reside within sociology departments. A 2004 (or maybe 2006) survey quoted by the estimable Prof Peter Saunders (Emeritus Professor of Sociology a the University of Sussex) found that 90% of sociology professors reported their personal politics as left-wing, and just 3% said they were Conservative voters. These courses have produced new waves of gender warriors evey year for many years, and it’s women like this who will define feminism for the foreseeable future. For right-of-centre women to try to lay claim to the term would be as futile as trying to kill an elephant by throwing a table tennis ball at it.

    Very interesting blog – I look forward to future posts.

    Mike Buchanan
    Author of:

    – David and Goliatha: David Cameron – heir to Harman?
    – The Glass Ceiling Delusion
    – Feminism: Crones’ Disease


  6. Might I also add a further comment? Regardless of the term used for a new grouping of non-left-wing women, you need to be DISTINCT, in part by pointing out examples of the absurdity of militant feminism. Good examples might include:

    – all examples of seeking equality of outcome over equality of opportunity, at the cost of meritocracy (e.g. the ‘gender pay gap’, ‘gender balance in the boardroom’…) These campaigns totally ignore the enduring fact that men hugely outnumber women in wanting highly-paid jobs, women valuing ‘work/life balance’ far more than men (in my experience, anyway). Gender preferences in the employment field (and elsewhere) are largely down to gender-typical brain differences (I refer you to Prof Louann Brizedne’s ‘The Female Brain’, Prof Susan Pinker’s ‘The Sexual Paradox’, psychologist Anne Moir’s ‘Why Men Don’t Iron’…)

    – I believe that female firefighters, when being examined, need carry a smaller load than male firefighters, and even then for a shorter distance? Are these women then to be used only for retrieving children from burning buildngs, while the men retrieve the adults? If that’s equality, I’m a jam doughnut.

    – the decision of the Royal Navy to modify its nuclear submarines so as to accommodate female crew at a cost of £3,000,000 per vessel. My hunch is that there will be a miracle conception on board – is a nuclear submarine to be diverted from its planned course because of a pregnant woman? This country would become a laughing stock in military terms.

    I expect a hundred examples could be identified in a few hours.

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