Friday, September 3, 2010

A Trojan Horse in the House of the Crescent Moon

South Carolina is currently lauding the possibility of Nikki Haley “making history” if she should win the race for governor of the state. Her outstanding contribution to that history would be the fact that she’s female. Many may view this potential win as an accomplishment and advancement in women’s rights; however, they fail to see the forest for the trees.

Simply being something does not necessarily suggest that one supports ideas and/or beliefs regarding the needs and/or rights of her/his existence. An excellent example of this concept exists in the form of Sarah Palin (incidentally or not, a strong supporter of Haley), the ultimate Trojan horse of the feminist movement. Yes, Sarah Palin is female. No, she is not a feminist. The ill-informed logic that being female immediately qualifies one as a feminist is equivalent to the belief of battered women who believe that they deserve their abuse, and/or that it is their place in the world to be used, abused, neglected, molested, and mistreated. It is the same logic of emotionally traumatized children who, in an effort to make sense of what has happened to them, blame themselves for having been molested by a family member, a family friend, a priest, a pastor, a teacher, or any other such role model.

I repeat, Sarah Palin is not a feminist. She supports, maintains and nurtures a patriarchal political structure that impedes women’s quality of life and maintains the status quo. She is not pro-life, she is anti-choice. Her history as governor of Alaska, as well as statements made during her run as McCain’s presidential running mate (a position in which she played mascot to what constitutes ‘progress’ in conservative politics) and her romp as the spearhead of the Tea Party movement are proof positive of her duplicity.

Feminism is not about usurping men and ruling the world. Feminism is about allowing women to have a choice, a voice, and a right to their own bodies and their own lives. Undoubtedly, there are many splinters of feminism. Some have used this fact to suggest that the movement is fractured, flawed. Yet I perceive it as an illustration of the complexity of feminism. The point is not whether or not we all agree on every issue, the point is that we are a consortium of various views and beliefs that come together under a multifaceted web in which we are unified in our belief that, in order to thrive, women deserve and require equal voice and equal movement in this world.

Thus, Sarah Palin is not a feminist.

A feminist does not encourage, romanticize, or glorify a narrow view that every woman would be happy if she could just stay home, nurture children and support her husband. A feminist believes that every woman should have that particular right if she so chooses, but that she should have the freedom to exercise her right to other lifestyle choices as well.

A feminist does not try to restrict a woman’s right to make choices about her own body, choices that affect the rest of her life, indeed her quality of life. A feminist believes that there should be no laws impeding a woman’s control of her own body. A feminist believes in a woman’s right to privacy as concerns her body. Feminists may not agree on the issue of abortion; however, they almost all agree on this: if you don’t believe in abortion, don’t get one.

 A feminist does not establish laws that further persecute rape victims by mandating that they should pay for their own rape kits. Enforcing such a law subliminally suggests that women who are raped did something to encourage and/or deserve their having being sexually assaulted. It maintains the concept that most women are liars, devious, not to be trusted. It also prohibits women on a limited income to pursue a rape charge, thus allowing sex offenders to further victimize more women. In no way does such a law protect women.

A feminist does not support programs that are ideologically based but realistic failures, especially when her/his own child is walking poster-child for said program’s flaws, especially when substantial analytical information proves that the program does not work. Indeed, such programs maintain the subjugation of women to their bodies via the laws that bind them. These programs perpetuate the notion of many people that women are bad because they could not live up to an impractical ideology. In its extreme, this notion is shared by the women who themselves fail at the ideology, an insidious infiltration of a woman’s psyche reminiscent of the Trojan horse.

Having explored the duplicity of Palin’s ‘brand’ of feminism, let’s return to the subject of Nikki Haley:  what makes her prospective win as the first female governor of South Carolina so remarkable? A quick search on my crystal ball (in other words, the internet) reveals that the first female to be sworn in to the office of governor in the United States was Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming. Incidentally, she was only technically the first as she was sworn in on the fifth of January in 1925. A few days later the second woman to be voted into the office of governor was sworn in, Miriam A. Ferguson of Texas.

Eighty-six years and thirty-two women later, we are supposed to get our collective panties in a bunch over another woman taking gubernatorial office. This stinks of an offering from the Tea Party to me, and it’s not chamomile in our cups.

Have Americans become so myopic in their world-view that they greedily accept whatever’s given them with no contemplation or awareness of the world outside of the two-foot radius around their persons? Other than being female, what does Nikki Haley have to offer South Carolinians?

The success of women in South Carolina politics is not a celebration of women’s accomplishments so much as it is testimony of the pre-historic condition of the state’s view of a woman’s competence. Nikki Haley, as Palin’s acolyte, is merely another wind-up vagina that goes chirping along as long as there’s a man behind her to wind her key. She supports and promises to continue Sanford’s policies, which benefit corporations instead of people and the environment, and which persistently endeavor to limit and even eradicate women’s rights. This is not a step forward in the progress of women in the state of South Carolina, it is plainly a canter to the Right, and anyone could see it if they’d simply open their eyes and look that Trojan gift horse in the mouth.

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