Can a Conservative Woman Be a Feminst?

October 15, 2010 | NeW Staff

I recently saw the interview below with Katie Couric, Gloria Steinem, and Women’s Media Center president, Jehmu Greene. The question posed to the interviewees was: Can conservative women can be feminists?

Watch it here.

As I watch this interview, I spotted several comments, assumptions, and accusations that put conservative women in a bad light. Being a conservative woman, I have taken it upon myself to broadcast how one-sided the interview is point-by-point, and also demonstrate that Gloria Steinem’s view of conservative women needs to be updated. I will basically go line-by-line in the interview and address each point the three women make. As a disclaimer, the points that I bring up against Steinem, Couric, and Greene are not necessarily the opinion of NeW as an organization, but my own opinion.

1.)   Couric claims that Palin does not maintain “many traditional feminist points of view.”
Palin is a woman on the political scene who has balanced a career and family. According to the Betty Friedan – the first feminist to emerge in the 1960s with her book The Feminine Mystique – Palin has managed to break out of the feminine mystique and educate herself. She is the ultimate example of a modern conservative women – a woman who has the ability to do anything she puts her mind to, which includes raising a family and balancing a top political career. Couric improperly uses the term “traditional feminist.” I hope next time she is more careful.

2.)   Steinem says Palin called herself a feminist to get votes because she saw Hillary Clinton was getting votes.
Allow me to point out that Palin rallied conservative women and Hillary rallied liberal women – the third-wave feminists. In fact a CBS poll shows that women are more likely to hold their party loyalty. Thus, Palin probably called herself a feminist to rally women within her own party and change the image of modern conservative women, not to gain voters from the other party, which holds most third-wave feminists.
3.)   Steinem states that a woman cannot be a feminist if she wants to make abortion illegal.
Who is Gloria Steinem to restrict women from holding a certain opinion or title for herself? She did not coin the term “feminist” and has no right to narrow the definition to pass a political agenda. If she were trying to unite women – as she claims via The Women’s Liberation Movement, she would be more open to both sides, but her opinion only shows her agenda.

4.)   Steinem also asserts that 1/3 women NEED an abortion once in her life.
I could say a lot about this statement, but one thing I will say is that her word usage is outrageous. Women do not NEED abortions; it’s not a necessity in life, it is certainly not an innate human need, and it is definitely not a God-given right. Women do not NEED an easy way out of an “inconvenient situation.”

5.)   Greene says that feminists do not make their decisions “based on [their] reproductive organs,” they look at the issues.
Many of the “third-wave feminists” make the “choice” argument – that a woman should be able to do whatever she wants with her body and whatever life is inside her body because it is her property – which in actuality is centered around her reproductive organs. Pro-life women make the argument that abortion is murder because it is a life. Which side is really looking at the issues? I think it’s the pro-life side.

6.)   Greene states that Palin wants the government to “intervene in family planning” & “have the government…make medical decisions.”
 We all know government needs to exist for things such as security, protection of rights, etc. Again, this argument comes back to the fact that pro-lifers believe that abortion is murder, so the rights of the unborn child needs protected by the government. Since I am a strong conservative, I can assure readers that most conservatives do not want government in their lives; they want it out of their lives. The disagreement comes down to whether abortion is murder or not.

In conclusion, I think we can take a couple things from doing this point-by-point assessment: First, the word feminist can be and should be used by ALL women, and second, groups who restrict the word “feminist” are not helping the movement to unite women.

So this was for Ms. Steinem. I hope she has become enlightened. 

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