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Sarah Palin and feminism June 2, 2010

Posted by dailyfeminist in Uncategorized.

Later this month Sarah Palin will be the guest of honor at an event intended to raise funds for the institution at which I work.  I had nothing to do with her selection as the speaker at an event intended to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the campus, and have openly indicated my concern with her receiving over $90K in speaker’s feeds and travel support when she has no history of connection with our institution, or a political or social platform that supports higher education and/or the traditionally underrepresented students our campus recruits, retains, and graduates.   I have no problem with Palin speaking at the campus as part of an open discussion about issues, but I do have a problem with her being paid so much, the campus foundation board charging $500 per person to attend a dinner event to hear her talk, holding the event in the summer when students and faculty are least likely to attend/learn from the guest speaker, and the selection of a divisive and controversial guest of honor for an anniversary event that should be drawing together the campus and community.

However, Sarah Palin is still coming to town, and will be at my university while I’m teaching an online section of Women’s and Feminist Activism.  I’ve decided to use the occasion of Palin’s visit as an opportunity to have the students consider her role as a feminist and a leader (and perhaps as a feminist leader).  Palin has often publicly indicated that she is a feminist, and has mentioned some feminist organizations to which she belongs (most especially Feminists for Life).   Some have welcomed Palin as a feminist icon, while others challenge or openly reject her feminist claims.  At the heart of the issue is what it means to be a feminist – and who decides what it means and who can claim the identity. I’ve been reading many of the articles/essays/blogs written on this subject in the last few weeks (and the many comments posted to the documents)- and am still working on the assignment for my students.    At the heart of the issue is what is gained or lost by defining feminism in particular ways and by having specific individuals claim allegiance to feminist ideals.

Here are some of the articles/statements that are informing my work (note that many have great links embedded in the posts):

Sarah Palin’s speech at the Susan B. Anthony List Celebration of Life Breakfast on May 14, 2010  – http://www.c-span.org/Watch/Media/2010/05/14/HP/A/32908/Fmr+Gov+Sarah+Palin+Address+at+Susan+B+Anthony+List+Celebration+of+Life+Breakfast.aspx

Carmen Siering – Sarh Palin is Not a Feminist – http://msmagazine.com/blog/blog/2010/06/01/sarah-palin-is-not-a-feminist/

Jessica Valenti – the Fake Feminism of Sarah Palin – http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/28/AR2010052802263.html?sid=ST2010052804193

Ann Gordon and Lynn Sherr – Sarah Palin is no Susan B. Anthony – http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/guestvoices/2010/05/sarah_palin_is_no_susan_b_anthony.html

Taylor Marsh – Sarah Palin is not a Feminist – http://www.taylormarsh.com/2010/05/17/sarah-palin-is-not-a-feminist/

Sarah Seltzer – A Feminist Appalled by Palin (from 2008) – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sarah-seltzer/a-feminist-appalled-by-pa_b_122489.html

Jennifer Ginsberg – Sarah Palin is a Feminist – http://www.momlogic.com/2010/01/is_sarah_palin_a_feminist.php

So what do you think – is Palin a feminist and does it matter if she is or isn’t?



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