Conservative women are up in arms about a critical piece about them in Elle. But not because it essentially portrays them of being privileged hypocrites, but because a headline writer referred to them as "Baby Palins." Seriously.
First of all, I understand anyone objecting to a story that begins with this overwrought concession to the piece appearing in what is ultimately a fashion magazine:
Regis Giles glides from chair to podium with the lithe, twitchy ease of a big cat, hazel-eyed and trailing a honey-colored mane, all 20 tawny years of her packed into a skintight electric blue stretch-satin cocktail dress. She doesn't look like this when she's spearing wild boar on the shores of Florida's Lake Okeechobee or taking aim with her favorite CZ 550 rifle, but today Giles is addressing America's largest annual conservative convention, in Washington, DC, so she's sexed it up a bit.
I suspect she's not the only one. Thankfully, it gets better after that, as author Nina Burleigh analyzes how "feminist bashing remains the surest way to earn cred in the conservative movement" and, beyond the movement and in the media, "the bankability of the telegenic, witty right-wing blond willing to trash the 'identity politics' of feminism." She talks a girl whose four-figure tax bill "brought her to tears... and eventually to the Tea Party." Still, Uncle Sam did not oppress her sufficiently to prevent this twenty-seven year-old from buying a BMW and a "great apartment."
She also talks to Dana Loesch, a conservative commentator who campaigned for Clinton as a teen but offered this sterling analysis of her conversion: "When the Lewinsky story broke, my first thought was she was a whore. Then it turned out he did have sex with her! I got really mad. I'd gone to bat for him, argued with teachers and friends for him. The first person to screw me over was Bill Clinton."
This is the crux of it:
The young women I interviewed for this article share almost every goal of feminism. They want to be—and in many cases, already believe themselves to be—"empowered": educationally, financially, sexually. But they resist any effort to put advancing their fellow women front and center. That means opposing everything from gender-based affirmative action, such as government-mandated quotas for female athletes under Title IX, to equal-pay-for-equal-work laws. So on the one hand they may lament that there are only a handful of female CEOs at Fortune 500 companies and only 17 female U.S. Senators-"It does matter," Sewell says. "A woman's perspective is different from a man's." But on the other hand, they're not going to take to the ramparts to try to increase the numbers.
So far as I can see, none of those criticisms were engaged by the women in the piece — not proclaiming that they can't sanction abortion as a feminist value, which might be more plausible, or that they simply believe the free market will magically fix inequality. No, instead they are upset because of the Palin stuff clearly thrown in to market the story.
One of the subjects of the piece, Karin Agness, president of the "Network of Enlightened Women," wrote on The National Review's Corner blog,
I have never heard anyone claim to be a "Baby Palin." Of all the interviews in the article, no one self-identified as a "Baby Palin." In fact, S.E. Cupp and Dana Loesch both cited 9/11 as their inspiration to jump into the political debate, and I started the Network of enlightened Women (NeW) four years before Gov. Sarah Palin hit the national stage.... With the "Baby Palin" label comes the Palin brand. The Palin brand has been so damaged by the media that the "Baby Palin" label serves the purpose of quickly stereotyping and delegitimizing us at the same time. Would a typical journalist call someone a "Palin" as a compliment? Ultimately, categorizing us as "Baby Palins" is a way to dismiss us.
And Independent Women's Forum executive director Carrie Lukas called Palin "an interesting media phenomenon" in an interview with the conservative Daily Caller and said, "this idea of putting people in this Palin box is a liberal caricature of what all conservative women are like. It's ridiculous, this idea that this all started with Sarah Palin. The Independent Women's Forum has been around for twenty years … The idea that everyone is following a trend of Sarah Palin is really demeaning."
She also claimed that her views had been exaggerated — author Nina Burleigh, Lukas said, "makes it sound as though I don't think that women should work, that pre-marital sex is always bad and going to harm women, and that I indict the use of daycare, all of which are completely gross exaggerations of my statements and writing." Funny, it's almost as if those are totally out of the mainstream of conservative positions!
That's as far as it gets on engaging the substance of the story. So let's confirm: It's beyond contention that these women are all about feminism when it's not called that and it only benefits them personally. Just don't compare them to that woman who is so yesterday!
The Best And The Rightest [Elle]
Young GOP Women To Elle Magazine: Don't Call Us Baby Palins [Daily Caller]
Conservative Women As Baby Palins [NRO]