Radar Writer: Palin Is Popular Because Young Feminists "Dropped The Torch"

Illustration for article titled Radar Writer: Palin Is Popular Because Young Feminists "Dropped The Torch"

Feminists! We don't like Sarah Palin. (Other "types" of women feel similarly, according to Time.) Of course, many men viscerally dislike the gun-toting Alaskan Governor, but talking about them is boring and doesn't conjure up images of mud wrestling. Over on Radar's website, Hipster Handbook scribe Robert Lanham tries to argue that many women dislike Sarah Palin because she exposes the deep chasm between second and third wave feminists."Feminism has been suffering an identity crisis for years, and it's only gotten worse during the 2008 election cycle," Lantham says. "Frustratingly, no clear leader from the third wave has emerged to lead women out of the void…the third-wavers are lacking the vision to grab the keys to the throne…The leaders of the third wave seem to keep saying the same thing. We get it: women enjoy sex just as much as men. Isn't there something more profound you'd like to promote?" Frustratingly, Lantham is completely off the mark. First of all, the reason "no clear leader" from the third wave has emerged, Steinem-like, from the so-called ashes of the second wave, is because the feminist battle in the aughts is a much more subtle fight. In the 60s, feminists raged against some very real, very crippling sexism. They weren't allowed to participate in many businesses and weren't taken seriously in many arenas, and discrimination against women was not only legal, it was acceptable. While it's undeniable that sexism continues to exist (and be accepted), because women superficially have all the rights of men, fighting sexism is a far more amorphous battle. One could argue the same thing for racism. Obviously racism still exists, but where's Generation Y's Martin Luther King or even Jesse Jackson? There isn't one, because it's difficult to rally people around a cause when the problem — discriminating against people because of the color of their skin — is technically illegal. Secondly, it's insulting, and completely incorrect, to say that third wave feminists are only concerned with sex. Really Robert? Do you actually read, say, Feministing, Jezebel or any other pro-female site on a regular basis? Because if you did, you'd realize that we talk about sex maybe 5% of the time, if that. We pay more than fleeting attention to some very "second wave" problems like sexual harassment in the workplace, equal pay for equal work, and sexism in the media. And even though there is no single feminist who is as publicly prominent as Steinem once was, I can name several young feminists who are making waves in discourse: Ariel Levy, Jennifer Baumgardner, and Jessica Valenti among them. Finally, reducing third wave feminism to sex positivity betrays a lack of understanding of third wave feminism. What are his criteria for third vs. second wavers? Chronological age? Because it's obviously not ideology alone. "In the presence of this void that Sarah Palin has risen from the flames of the second- and third-wavers. The torch has been dropped, setting the whole damn succession ablaze," Lantham argues. But he's ignoring the fact that it's potentially positive that feminism is no longer a monolith. Sarah Palin has risen because John McCain promoted her in a jarringly pandering move to appeal to evangelical Christians. It has nothing to do with the lack of a single, unifying feminist doctrine. The one place I could argue that there is a real chronological break between feminists is in their fear of Palin's fumbles. In one corner, we have Rebecca Traister representing the third wave. She doesn't feel sorry for Palin because Palin is a grown woman who got herself into this mess. In the opposite corner, representing the the second wave, is Slate's Emily Bazelon, who worries that Palin's gaffes will prove to the country that women are not competent enough for the highest office. "Palin won't bust through the ceiling that has Hillary's 18 million cracks in it. She'll give men an excuse to replace it with a new one," Bazelon posits. Maybe it's naively third wave of me, but I think the country is beyond thinking that one unqualified woman ruins everything for all women in general. Macho Ma'am [Radar Online] The Un-Hillary [Slate] Poll: Palin Less Popular With Women Voters Than With Men [Time]



"Sarah Palin has risen because John McCain promoted her in a jarringly pandering move to appeal to evangelical Christians"

that about sums it up.