Wednesday, March 09, 2011

When Feminism Meets the Real World, Again

The original feminists were common sense women, possessing a solid connection with their earthy roots and human nature. Later generations of feminists became caught up in revolutionary "rights and victims" movements of the left, and seemed to have lost all contact with human nature and what a workable and sustainable society would look like. Now, feminism may be returning to its roots. A new breed of ambitious, earthy, feminine feminists who are solidly rooted in common sense has burst upon the scene in the US. The late and badly shriveled form of revolutionary grievance feminism will not be missed.
The old guard, consisting mostly of lawyers, writers, journalists, and other media types, tended to cluster on the coasts. The new crowd came from the South, the Midwest, and the West, and a number of them were businesswomen—not surprisingly, given that women are now majority or equal owners in nearly half of American businesses. Some were techies, such as Tea Party organizers Jenny Beth Martin of Georgia, a computer programmer, and Michelle Moore of Missouri, who ran a technology consulting firm. Nikki Haley, South Carolina’s newly elected governor, was an accountant in her previous life. The new congresswoman from South Dakota, Kristi Noem, runs the cattle ranch that she inherited from her family. Tech geeks, businesswomen, and ranchers: not Lesley Stahl feminism, that’s for sure.

Further unsettling the feminist framework was the vigorous maternalism of the newcomers. Many heartland women had seen in feminism’s enthusiastic careerism, as well as its resentment of men and domesticity, an implicit criticism of their own lives. Hence their rejection of the feminist label even as they joined the workforce and lived lives that looked, in many respects, consistent with the movement’s principles. Now there appeared on the scene a new model of female success, one in which maternalism and even housewifery were not at odds with wielding power on the public stage. Palin’s name for the female midterm candidates was telling: “Mama Grizzlies.” Dana Loesch, a homeschooling mother of two, “mommy blogger,” and columnist, cofounded the St. Louis Tea Party. Minnesota congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, who won reelection in November, has taken in 23 foster children over the years. Before the election, some had predicted that 2010 would be another Year of the Woman; it would be closer to the truth to call it the Year of the Mom.

Actually, maternal feminism is nothing new. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, temperance fighters—and, to a lesser extent, suffragettes—viewed their role as wives and mothers as the source of their moral authority in public debates. But something important sets today’s maternal feminism apart from the earlier strain: it casts budgeting and governance as maternal issues. “From first-hand experience, [women] know you cannot spend your way out of debt at home and they know that philosophy translates to businesses and to the government,” Martin told Politico. Palin put her fiscal conservatism in the homey rhetoric of a PTA president: “I think a whole lot of moms . . . are concerned about government handing our kids the bill.” _CityJournal
Sarah Palin's name keeps popping up in discussions of this "changing of the feminist guard" for a very good reason -- she is both a prototype and a flashpoint for the new improved feminism.
Before 39-million viewers, Palin was the first public figure to openly and successfully ridicule the hitherto untouchable Barack Obama. She also was the first American woman to campaign for high office by paying homage, but no ideological dues, to the Sisterhood. This Alaskan small-town huntin’, fishin’ God-fearin,’ abortion-hatin’ mom of five showed that a woman can break through any glass ceiling she wants without the imprimatur of the feminist politburo.

Feminists watching Palin’s stunning performance knew a stake was being driven through their movement’s heart. They went ballistic. Feminist blogger Jessica Grose wrote on her Jezebel web site: “When Palin spoke on Wednesday night, my head almost exploded … What I feel for her privately could be described as violent, nay murderous, rage.” Judith Warner wrote in The New York Times that Palin was an “insult to women.” Comedian Sandra Bernhard riffed on YouTube: “Turncoat bitch! You whore in your cheap f***ing … cheap-ass plastic glasses.” Academic Wendy Doniger opined, “Palin’s greatest hypocrisy is her pretense that she is a woman.”

And who can forget Canada’s very own Heather Mallick — then of the CBC, now of the Toronto Star — who watched Palin with “my mouth open, my eyeballs drying out, my hand making shaky notes.” _NationalPost
Mallick's notes were not the only thing shaky about the old guard's reaction to Palin. The entire edifice of whiny grievance feminism was shaken to its roots. Since then, nothing has been the same. And the newcomers -- the improved feminists who seem to be real women for a change -- are growing more prominent and more numerous on most stages of society. And this despite the best attempts of the old guard to use their privileged positions in government, media, and academia to shut the new feminists out.
Hymowitz calls them Mama Grizzlies because they celebrate, rather than repudiate, their biological natures. Mama Grizzlies see men as different but complementary to women, and therefore as collaborators, not adversaries. Sarah Palin’s Down’s Syndrome-afflicted child and military-serving son — whom she speaks about proudly at public events — aren’t an anomaly in this circle of unapologetically maternal women. Minnesota congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, founder of the House Tea Party caucus, has nurtured 23 foster children over the years.

No wonder feminists mired in the superannuated shibboleths of revolutionary feminism are shocked. As always happens with utopian revolutions, its pendulum, propelled outward by theories and ideology, can only swing so far from human nature’s permanent verities, and cause so much social damage, before corrective populist movements force it back to the middle. _NationalPost
The left has had things pretty much their own way in academia, most of the media, and huge swathes of government. With the coming of the great budgetary devastation brought on by government profligacy and a general anti-business and anti-entrepreneurial attitude coming from the great neo-leftist infrastructures, the happy little party at the top of the tax-supported world is just about to get crashed. And these party-crashers are not likely to cut the lefty-whiny feminists any slack whatsoever, because the newcomers arrive prepared to clean, disinfect, and re-budget the works.

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