Sarah Palin: Feminist? Victim Of Sexist Smears? Or All Or None Of The Above?Sarah Palin stands in opposition to most of the policies promoted by the average feminist — in particular, reproductive choice. Some conservative pundits have taken to calling her a feminist (not that we should allow Rush Limbaugh to start deciding who is and who isn't a feminist). But it does bring up an interesting question: what qualifies one as a feminist? Is reproductive choice the litmus test?Because, as Gloria Steinem interviewer Chrystia Freeland points out, if Palin wasn't a social conservative, many feminists might be cheering her choice even if they weren't planning on voting for McCain. A self-made female politician, she chose motherhood and a career and managed to do both with some success and makes no apologies for her working motherhood. Isn't that part of what feminism has been striving for? The ability to make the same choices as men, with the same rights, responsibilities and consequences that go with them? Some say that her daughter's pregnancy is a failure of her parenting; others attack her insistence on going back to work so soon after her pregnancy and thrusting her kids into the spotlight for the sake of her career at such a trying time (an assertion that implies that Bristol or her parents are ashamed of her or her pregnancy). And, like Leslie Morgan Steiner was saying on Today this morning, where were these people when Joe Biden was being venerated last week for carrying on his political career after the death of his wife, and commuting back and forth to Delaware for the sake of his career? No one was lambasting his work-life balance. It's disturbing, and although the McCain campaign (except its national co-chair) is certainly attempting to overplay its hand in this case — a blatant campaign tactic if I ever saw one — it doesn't mean its criticism of the sexism leveled at Palin isn't apt. While I'm all on board with criticizing Palin's record on choice, health care access and marriage equity (and anything else that I disagree with her on), I'm not remotely happy to be listening to women who disagree with her politically make value judgments about her work-life choices or her parenting. Her religious beliefs lead to political beliefs about abortion, and she has, by all accounts, led her life and pushed policies in concert with those beliefs. And, as much as I disagree with her beliefs and the way she attempts to express them in policy, I don't argue with her right to hold them. And I don't think it's such a terrible thing for women or the feminist movement to have the second women ever atop a Presidential ticket even though she holds those views. Although I would undoubtedly not vote for her ticket in November in part because of them, I am still excited to see her taking her swings at that glass ceiling that so many women before her have bashed their head against. The New Face of Feminism [Rush Limbaugh] Palin Is A True Feminist Role Model [Financial Times] Questions for a Superhuman Mom [Slate] Leslie Morgan Steiner [Official Site] Palin Media-Sexism Train Arrives on Schedule [Time] GOP Women Call Palin Critics Sexist [Time] Related: Analysis: McCain Camp Plays Sexism Card For Palin [AP] McCain's National Co-Chair: Media Coverage Of Palin Is "Completely Fair," Not Sexist [Talking Points Memo]