Sarah Palin Declares War on Liberal Feminists in "America by Heart"

What Women Really Think
Nov. 23 2010 5:18 PM

Sarah Palin Declares War on Liberal Feminists in "America by Heart"

Jessica Grose Jessica Grose

Jessica Grose is a frequent Slate contributor and the author of the novel Sad Desk Salad. Follow her on Twitter.

In the section about Sarah Palin in Rebecca Traister's book about women during the 2008 election, Big Girls Don't Cry , Traister quotes consultant Elaine Lafferty, who claims that Palin adored Gloria Steinem and her feminist sisters and couldn't understand why they didn't warm to her . According to Lafferty, Palin said of Steinem, she "was my hero! Why do they hate me? I'm a feminist."


If Gloria Steinem really was once Palin's idol, she sure ain't anymore. Palin uses an entire chapter of her new book, America By Heart , to diss liberal feminists, past and present. She insults Betty Friedan twice; she says that in 1992 Hillary Clinton seemed "frozen in an attitude of 1960s-era bra-burning militancy"; she calls her allegedly beloved Steinem out for saying that "no woman who believes abortion is wrong can call herself a feminist"; and finally, she claims that fewer women call themselves feminists these days because "somewhere along the line feminism went from being pro-woman to effectively anti-woman." All the while she trots out, and then repeats, some fun old stereotypes of liberal feminists: They emphasize women as victims because they're obsessed with rape and domestic violence, they are disdainful of "the joys and fulfillment we find in motherhood."

What's especially entertaining is the part where she spends several pages going off on Murphy Brown- a fictional character from the early '90s . By Palin's twisted logic, Murphy Brown is a terrible role model for having a child as a single woman, but her daughter, Bristol, is a great role model for making the same decision. Why? Because Brown's creator Diane English trumpeted Brown's decision as an empowering lifestyle choice, while Bristol has the good sense to go out and "tell other young girls, 'Don't do what I did.'"

We had a big discussion on Slate earlier this year, with lots of feminist writers participating from both ends of the political spectrum, about who gets to be a feminist. In this new book, Sarah Palin has made it clear that she doesn't care what any of us thinks about who gets to be one: She's redefining the term to suit her needs like she always does, and proclaiming herself a " new feminist" (italics hers). Here's her definition:

The new feminism is telling women they are capable and strong. And if keeping a child isn't possible, adoption is a beautiful choice. It's about empowering women to make real choices , not forcing them to accept false ones. It's about compassion and letting these scared young women know that there will be some help there for them to raise their children in those less-than-ideal circumstances.

Any objections?



The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson Resigns

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.


Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.


How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

The U.S. Has a New Problem in Syria: The Moderate Rebels Feel Like We’ve Betrayed Them

We Need to Talk: A Terrible Name for a Good Sports Show by and About Women

Trending News Channel
Oct. 1 2014 1:25 PM Japanese Cheerleader Robots Balance and Roll Around on Balls
  News & Politics
Oct. 1 2014 4:15 PM The Trials of White Boy Rick A Detroit crime legend, the FBI, and the ugliness of the war on drugs.
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
The Eye
Oct. 1 2014 1:04 PM An Architectural Crusade Against the Tyranny of Straight Lines
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 3:02 PM The Best Show of the Summer Is Getting a Second Season
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 4:26 PM How to Measure the Value of Your Personal Data in Cookies: A Slate Guide
  Health & Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.