Misunderstood: What it Means to be a Conservative Feminist

by Alex on June 4, 2012 · 4 comments

Feminists stand up for women. Feminists are protecting your reproductive rights. Feminists empower women against man’s repression. Feminists are crusaders for women. You cannot be conservative and a feminist because being conservative means you stand for the repressive patriarchal society feminists fought against. Feminists liberated women. Feminists are liberal. There is no such thing as conservative feminism.

These are the mantras of the liberal feminist movement. Hannah Sternberg of the Heritage Foundation in her article Conservative Feminism is Not an Oxymoron explains,

The political movement that purports to defend ‘equal rights’ for women begins by asserting that the female half of the population is born into their ideology and is not permitted to deviate from it.

Sternberg challenges the notion that contemporary liberal feminism is the original and only form of feminism. She refers to the primary definition of feminism, which seeks equality between the sexes politically, economically, and socially.  Today the connotative definition of feminism revolves around the liberal agenda, condemning those on the right for their antiquated, ‘anti-feminist’ beliefs. Anti-feminist, in this context, means pro-life.

Liberal feminists are waging war against conservative women. They are attacking conservative women who do not agree with their political agenda. Condoleezza Rice, Nikki Haley, Jan Brewer, and Sarah Palin are women who represent a growing presence of women in politics. Their ascendance should be considered an achievement for feminists. Instead of celebrating their success, liberal feminists condemned these women for betraying women. Why? Because these women did not support the liberal pro-abortion agenda. Sternberg says,

This has led to the frequent claim that for a woman to be conservative, she betrays her sex: there is no such thing as a conservative feminist.

Amanda Marcotte of RH Reality Check in her article Conservative Feminism: The Idea That Woman Are Too Stupid to Know the Difference doggedly asserts,

The whole strategy of declaring obviously anti-feminism women to be ‘feminist’ was started by anti-choice groups like Susan B. Anthony List and Feminists for Life, and it was popularized by Sarah Palin…The argument underpinning anti-choice ‘feminism’ is one based on the very un-feminist belief that women are simply too stupid for their own minds.

Her perspective shows the narrow-mindedness of the liberal feminism. The left demonizes conservative women because conservative women do not agree with the radical agenda the left advocates that strips women of their femininity, maternity, and sex.

To be a NeW woman, a conservative feminist, means reconciling what liberals have deemed as the irreconcilable: conservatism and feminism.  The two are not mutually exclusive terms. “Conservatives don’t have to relinquish the banner of feminism to liberal ideology,” says Sternberg. Traditional values and promoting gender equality between men and women are not inherently contradictory.

Conservative feminism means empowering women in the workplace, politics and in society to achieve equal opportunity. It does not and should not mean radicalizing feminism to connotatively and definitively include only liberal issues like abortion and promoting a promiscuous sexual culture. Neither of these empower women, they only erode the fundamental moral and social pillars of our society.

As a NeW woman, I realize the unique role women have played in society as the caregiver of our families. Equality between men and women socially, politically and economically, as feminism set out to achieve, does not mean flouting gender differences or belittling the crucial role women play in the family. This does not condemn women to a life of paternalistic subservience, as liberal feminists claim; instead it elevates this role to realize the fundamental and influential position women have in the development of our youth and society.

NeW provides a forum for women to come together who share common values and explore feminism from a different avenue than that imposed by liberal feminists. The challenge as a NeW woman is to realize that feminism is not meant to be an exclusive title for liberal activists who demean conservative values, but instead to stand up, proud to be an American, a conservative, – a woman and speak out.