I have been flirting with the idea of writing a blog post about Michele Bachmann for a while. When this post goes live, Republicans in Iowa will fire the long awaited starting pistol of the 2012 Republican Presidential Nomination Race. Among the citizens of Iowa and the Presidential hopefuls, one individual, Representative Bachmann, is hoping and more importantly in her case, praying for a miracle.
In the recent weeks, some frontrunners have surfaced: Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts Governor and if I dare say, devout Mormon, Ron Paul, a United States Congressman from Texas’ 14th District, and Rick Santorum, a former United States Senator from Pennsylvania and fervent Catholic. However, although the troupe is the typical political line up (all white, privileged, religious, heterosexual family men), Michele Bachmann is hoping to capitalize on the major factor that sets her a part from the pack: her gender.
Continue reading “Michele Bachman is a Woman: Using the Gender Card in Iowa By John Erickson”
Last week Cynthia Garrity-Bond shared a post about Michele Bachmann and the misuse of the word feminism to describe her. Commenter Kate Barker noted that Bachmann does not self-identify as a feminist, a very important point I think. It led me to wonder whether there are any women in politics who self-identify as feminist, and while there may certainly be some or even many, I cannot think of any who do so publicly.
During the Democratic National Convention in 2008, Hillary Clinton spoke of working towards women’s rights around the world, putting 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, and being a member of the “sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits,” but did not directly identify herself as a feminist. I found Clinton’s membership to this “sisterhood” an interesting method of feminist self-identifying without employing the label.
It seems to me, to call oneself a “feminist” in the world of politics today would be to commit career suicide. This term has joined the likes of “communist” or “socialist” and is utilized to create fear. “Feminism” has become the new “F-word” and to self-identify as such, in politics, in religion, and in other spheres, often leads to marginalization. Continue reading “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuits By Gina Messina-Dysert”
Recently CNN ran a feature article on GOP presidential runner Michele Bachmann, an extreme conservative congresswoman from Minnesota, whose political ideologies are shaped and endorsed by the Tea Party [http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2011/06/27/michele-bachmann-evangelical-feminist/.] The article raised the question if Bachmann, like Hilary Clinton, could be considered a feminist icon, with the distinction of Bachmann as an “evangelical feminist.” While the article gives a brief history of evangelical feminism, starting with the appointment of Christian conservative Elizabeth Dole during the reign of Ronald Reagan, a huge assumption is made by not clarifying what, exactly, is a feminist and what makes one a feminist? This sin of omission thus renders the term “evangelical feminist” as a binary coupling that locates feminism to a 1970’s reformist notion of women’s equality with men, but men in their shared social status. While Bachmann may object to being identified as a feminist, I find it interesting that the writer for CNN has no difficulty (or sense of clarity) with the consideration of her as a feminist. What, I wonder, in Bachmann’s political trajectory is considered “feminist”?
In Feminism is for Everybody, author bell hooks takes to task what she identifies as “lifestyle-based feminism” which hooks argues, “suggest[s] any woman could be a feminist no matter what her political beliefs.” Enter Michele Bachmann and her beloved Tea Party. Admittedly the Tea Party is all over the map in their ideology, yet a few constants can be teased out. For example, they overwhelmingly disapprove of President Obama’s policy of engaging with Muslim countries. They support Arizona’s immigration laws, feel gay and lesbian couples should not be able to marry, global warming is simply made-up, the repeal of the Health Care legislation, repeal of minimum wage, and reduction or elimination of reproductive rights for women and men. All of which begs the question, can an individual who invest in a political ideology of extreme nationalism while further excluding those on the margins through racist immigration laws, homophobic fears, classist response to the poor and sick while promoting a misdirected Biblical position of dominance of the earth and its limited resources be consider a feminist?
Recall in the last post Rosemary Radford Ruether’s understanding of feminism as “a critique of patriarchy as a system that distorts the humanity of both women and men.” One form of distortion arises when patriarchy co-opts feminism as power gained through the exploitation and oppression of others. In what hooks identifies as “power feminism” of the 90’s, wealthy white heterosexual women became the icons of feminist success by appropriating feminist jargon while sustaining their commitment to Western imperialism and transnational capitalism. Which goes back to my initial point, we must clarify what we mean when we use the word feminist or feminism. Is it a chameleon-like identity or a political movement that seeks to end sexism, exploitation and oppression of women and men? Continue reading “Feminism in Disguise By Cynthia Garrity-Bond”