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  • Conservative Feminism is Not an Oxymoron

    Hillary Clinton will be feted this Friday at a “world summit” event hosted by Tina Brown, the editor in chief of  Newsweek. This week Brown relaunched the magazine with a cover story featuring Hillary as one of the “150 Women Who Shake the World.” Clinton and other public figures such as Christiane Amanpour and Nancy Pelosi as well as pop culture icons like Mia Farrow and Susan Sarandon own the message on strong women. They embody the identification of so-called “women’s issues” with left-leaning politics. But conservatives don’t have to relinquish the banner of feminism to liberal ideology.

    The primary (and most literal) dictionary definition of feminism is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” However, in popular ideology it has unquestionably been superseded by its secondary, connotative definition, “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.” “Interest” has been broadly interpreted to mean virtually any liberal agenda. 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.

    Such a political philosophy belittles women. It assumes that women lack the intellectual capacity to choose their own views; their opinions on everything from abortion to the economy must be prefabricated by the liberal thought machine. It is also a distasteful blow to the idea of individual self-determination: what a person is, is more important to liberals than who a person is. Individuality is undermined by group identification. 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.

    Liberal hypocrisy on feminism is rife in a number of highly visible positions:

    Abortion. Liberals claim that pro-life activists are paternalistic because, by combating abortion, they are depriving women of the right to choose for themselves whether to terminate a pregnancy. Yet many of these same liberals oppose the establishment of Pregnancy Resource Centers, pro-life institutions that educate women on the other ways, besides abortion, to cope with an unexpected pregnancy, including support services for the pregnancy period itself, as well as information on the alternatives of adoption or parenting. Similarly, many liberals oppose measures to require women to view an ultrasound before having an abortion, because it might persuade them to change their minds. Liberals are so convinced that abortion is the best choice for women experiencing unexpected pregnancy that they would like to prevent those women from learning about any other options, or being exposed to the full reality of the procedure. Who’s paternalistic now?

    School Choice. Liberals oppose school choice, claiming that it siphons much-needed funds from the public school system. But school choice simply means that money funds the child instead of funding the school. In addition to being fiscally incorrect (many school choice programs, such as the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, not only cost less per-pupil than surrounding public schools, but are funded on a structure specifically designed to avoid decreasing the funds to public schools) this anti-school choice position is a shocking insult to parents. The liberal position on school choice is clear: mothers cannot be trusted to choose their own children’s education.

    The Defense of Freedom and Human Rights. Liberal feminist groups are vitriolic in condemning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which liberated millions of women from the atrocities of the Taliban and other Islamist regimes.  They support organizations such as the U.N., which recently seated Iran—a flagrant violator of basic rights for women–on its Commission on the Status of Women, and they support its resolutions against Israel, the only country in the Middle East that recognizes full equal rights for women. Liberals justify their support in the name of multiculturalism—the relative equality of every society, even if they legalize the honor killing of rape victims by their own family members and institutionalize spousal abuse. Liberals find multiculturalism far more of an enlightened idea than the American tradition of promoting universal democratic principles, which they view as “intellectual colonialism.”

    What constitutes this “intellectual colonialism” that is such a threat to progressive multiculturalism? It’s the spread of the unique ideas upon which America was founded: ideas hailed as universal and immutable truths, stemming from that first declaration “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” What could be more empowering than the simple declaration that all people, women and men, are entitled to the respect of their basic human dignity?

    But these truths are a threat to the liberal interpretation of feminism, which claims that men and women are not born equal, but that women (and other gender- or race-based groups) are born into a predestined ideology, while other “majority” groups (most of the time, white men) are born into collective guilt for their fathers’ transgressions. These truths are also a threat to the progressive concept of multiculturalism, which claims that moral relativism is the only truth, and that America’s founding principles are merely “values” applicable only in a particular time and place.

    Yet if the last idea is true, what defense does progressivism offer for the basic human dignity of women everywhere?

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    11 Responses to Conservative Feminism is Not an Oxymoron

    1. Leon Lundquist, Dura says:

      Hannah! You have proved how Liberal Feminism is anti Woman in its acts. Just look how they attacked Sarah Palin. She was False Prosecuted over a hundred times! (Each one is a Felony if anybody had the guts to prosecute the False Prosecutions!) They hate the Mormon Church for no other reason Mormons hold the sexes as Opposite Equals, "Let women be women!" They preserve Families, and look! Liberal Feminists hate Families!

      The fact Liberal Feminists do the exact opposite is proof to me the Feminist Movement has been usurped by Marxists! Women don't do well under Communism! Why in living Hell do they support Progressive Socialism? In opposition to true Women's Rights! It is the same reason Democrats attack democracy perpetually, in Wisconsin for example!

      No they aren't Feminists! Now you can understand why they do what they do. No other explanation is possible.

    2. Bobbie says:

      Good one Leon, I couldn't have said it better myself.

      And Hannah, this line says it all: "What could be more empowering than the simple declaration that all people, women and men, are entitled to the respect of their basic human dignity?"

      Get rid of all tax funding of all organizations, unintended (for those whom take part) consequences will arise. Titles may always sound good until you dig a little deeper. These organizations are subliminally easing women into shariah complacency. They are beyond the constitutional constraints of government.

    3. Casey says:

      Thank you, Hannah!

      As a police officer, I faced this day-in and day-out from the so-called equal rights politicians of Berkeley, California. When I expressed dismay that the City Council would strip the police of a successful and effective alternative to lethal force tool such as the carotid restraint, I was called a shill of the 'boys in the smoked filled back rooms.' No way could a women who had training and experience as a police officer express views supporting the law enforcement perspective that were contrary to the progressives unless I was crazy or controlled!

      While I do not agree with all conservative women's values, all women (and men) have a right to express and support their value and moral views without being demonized for having a different perspective. Isn't that the point of freedom?

    4. JKC, CT says:

      Conservative Feminism does not have to be an oxymoron, but it happens to be one in America currently. Your article is an interesting read, but ultimately it suffers a few flaws.

      The first one is your claim that feminism being only a left-wing phenomenon belittles women. That is an acceptable conclusion, but not the only one. It is also possible that feminism is a left-wing phenomenon because conservatism has done a poor job of advocating women's rights. Obviously, that's not a view you espouse, but the conclusion you decided to go with did not necessarily follow from the premises. While not all views need to be produced from what you so colorfully call the Liberal Thought Machine, for views to be considered feminist they must reasonably be in the interest of females. While WHAT you are can be as important as WHO you are, it is certainly who you are that makes you a feminist. Just being female is not enough. Thus, there are plenty of conservative females, but it will take some questioning to discover whether they are feminists as well.

      What might such questioning look like? What examples might we choose as a litmus test? Your examples were, again, interesting, but they seemed a bit off topic. The simple reader would look over them and agree whole-heartedly without giving too much thought to it.

      Abortion: You hit the nail on the head when you said that the Pro-Life lobby seeks to deprive women of a right. But you then go on to say that the pro-choice lobby is hypocritical because they refuse to support Pregnancy Resource Centers. You claim that those centers are places where women can learn more about pregnancy and abortion alternatives, which is true. However, clinics already provide such services. In fact, clinics provide both abortion and non-abortion alternatives, while Pregnancy Resource Centers only provide the latter. By advocating such centers, one would be advocating depriving women of an option. The last point you made in this category was about requiring women to view an ultrasound. I suspect that you are correct that playing to the emotions of a woman during such a vulnerable time will put extra pressure on her during an already difficult mental struggle, and would be an effective way to push her one way or another. But, again, it is the Pro-Life lobby seeking to deprive women of an option (to not view the ultrasound, to have an abortion, to not go to a back alley and use a coat hanger) and the pro-choice lobby seeking to give women options. There is no hypocrisy here. Of course they would oppose requiring something. Shouldn't you oppose the government requiring something of you, as a conservative? That seems kind of hypocritical, actually.

      School Choice: Your example here is an excellent one showing the hypocrisy of the liberal agenda. As stated above, the liberal agenda should be about giving options and not taking them away, so not allowing money to follow the child instead of the school is, indeed, hypocritical. Bravo on catching them out on this. One worry I have though is whether this is a feminist issue. It seems more like it is simply a liberal one. As such, while it would be perfectly at home in a post about how liberals in general are hypocritical, it seems out of place in a post about how Conservative Feminists aren't an oxymoron. Indeed, there is no reason for it to be here at all. I notice you mention mothers in the post in this section, but surely father's are involved as well. My guess is they're liberal hypocrites too.

      Defense of Freedom and Human Rights: This is, yet again, an excellent point. Advocating for a woman's interest should be for all women and not just the women of one country. And so a feminist should always be happy when women in another country are liberated. However, you seem to draw a conclusion that anyone who opposes such wars opposes the freedom of women. This is possible, but not necessarily the case. It's also possible that people bear more than one label. One might not just be female and feminist, but also one who cares about national sovereignty, entanglement in foreign wars, a believer in self-determination. And while it would be nice to liberate women in countries where they are oppressed, doing so does not justify every means. This is a lesson I learned in the anime Death Note (an excellent and educational cartoon, my girlfriend highly recommends it). You calling anyone opposing foreign wars as being anti-female reminds me of a friend of mine who sarcastically declared himself anti-abortion. I asked him why he was Pro-Life, and he quickly corrected me. "I'm not Pro-Life. Overturning Roe v Wade isn't going to end abortions, it's just going to push them underground and in back alleys, with coat hangers and all that. I'm not Pro-Life. I'm just anti-mother."

    5. v. ann maguire, mt p says:

      Conservative Feminism IS a very valid description of a modern, intellectual,

      independent woman who is not intimidated by anyone AND holds a

      conservative policy politically, economically and morally.

      Your article is most appropriate regardless how the current news hounds

      and liberals try to corner the label "feminism" to their camp exclusively.

    6. Bobbie says:

      Once you put a special interest (feminism) into it, totally voids the true meaning of conservatism. Conservatives keep our special interests to ourselves as "special interests" are not a function of government. Weak leadership has allowed special interest to infiltrate governments functions. Weaker American leadership continues and increases it. I don't know who started it, but it's wrong.

    7. Katharine, Washingto says:

      Christina Hoff Sommers discusses this very topic in this morning's "American." She writes that the Women in the World summit has "given Western feminism something it has lacked since the 1970s: a contemporary purpose worthy of its illustrious past.” Please check it out!

      http://www.american.com/archive/2011/march/tina-b

    8. Pamela . Portland OR says:

      V. Ann "Conservative Feminism IS a very valid description of a modern, intellectual, independent woman who is not intimidated by anyone AND holds a

      conservative policy politically, economically and morally."

      Thank you!

      I am more conservative by nature, However I certainly consider myself a feminist. I dont understand why some woman are so willing to put themselves down.

      Again, thank you thank you.

    9. Pamela . Portland OR says:

      “Conservative Feminism IS a very valid description of a modern, intellectual,
      independent woman who is not intimidated by anyone AND holds a
      conservative policy politically, economically and morally.”
      Agreed! & Thank you!!

    10. Matthew says:

      I would like to thank you for writing this article. I am a Psychology and Women's Studies double major at a local university. I chose this combination in hopes of getting into the social work field (as our program delves into issues that surround various minority groups, not just women). I would argue that the material is often portrayed as a liberal and homogenized thought, despite our professors claims that there are numerous feminist philosophies. I consider myself to be towards the moderate end of the political spectrum and I will point-counterpoint what is said if I feel a claim needs to be made. I am never shot down outright, given that our professors want us to engage the material and form out own ideas. However, I have yet to actually see a reading which encompasses what you have written (ie feminists that are pro-life). I will most definitely look into this matter further and bring it up!

    11. famous feminists says:

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