Women’s History Open Thread: Infamous Women

by Gloria Feldt on March 26th, 2011
in Inspiration, Know Your History, Leadership, Politics and tagged , , , , , , , ,

In No Excuses, not all of the women I talk about have had a positive impact on women’s lives. In fact, I share a quote from Madeleine Albright that says “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” But should women support women like Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin, who oppose policies that help women, such as reproductive rights, fair pay legislation, and social programs that are most likely to help women and children who constitute the majority of those living in poverty?

Update: Just saw the sad news that Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman major party vice presidential candidate, died today. Gerry exemplified the first wave of women who aspired to political office and had the courage to run of their own volition, rather than as surrogates for their husbands. Smart, tough, and always willing to put herself forward to help women advance, Gerry also fought multiple myeloma (a blood cancer that usually kills within two years) valiantly for over 12 years. Rest in peace, and thank you, Gerry Ferraro.

Gloria Feldt

Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

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12 Responses to Women’s History Open Thread: Infamous Women

  1. Tamara Fagin says:

    Gloria – thank you for starting this important thread. Not all women making history make good history that is for sure!

    I think that many people (women, especially) are hesitant to openly criticize this dynamic duo lest we be perceived as catty or somehow sabotaging the advancement of women, and thus, hurting the women’s movement. However, women who oppose what Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann are up to, need to speak up. They need to WEAR THE SHIRT: I AM A WOMAN, BUT NOT A PALIN/BACHMANN SUPPORTER and EXPLAIN WHY.

    I am all for more women running for office but I am not going to support anyone who (1) opposes pro-women/family policies like the ones you mentioned; and (2) does not have the intellect for the job. The problems facing our planet, country and state & local governments require innovative solutions and folks with BRAINS who KNOW THEIR HISTORY (like where the revolution began, Ms. Bachmann!*) so we don’t repeat mistakes and we optimize the increasingly limited resources (natural and financial) available.

    I think that we can applaud Michelle and Sarah for standing up for what they believe in but I think for me it stops there. And, perhaps I am overly paranoid but you got to wonder what the republican establishment is up to when they support and promote women like Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman – is this like the thinking behind putting pretty boy Dan Qualye on the ticket – do they think that women are so shallow that we are going to vote for them just because they are pretty women? Is this the best they can do?

    * Michelle Bachmann (and Sarah Palin) need to read No Excuses and go back to school to learn some U.S. (and world) history: http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_theticket/20110313/pl_yblog_theticket/michele-bachmann-makes-an-embarrassing-flub-in-nh

  2. Pamela Kemp says:

    The problem with Ms Albright’s statement is that, taken out of context, it presumes that women are a homogeneous group that shares the same views and interests. This, of course is no more true of women, than it is of people of a specific ethnic or religious group.

    I concur with Tamara. There is a huge distinction between supporting a woman’s right to express her opinions and agreeing with her positions. In the cases of Mss Palin and Bachmann I not only disagree with their positions but I strongly object to their methods for making their arguments.

  3. Denise says:

    Tamara, good post! I agree, but I think that many women don’t question Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann’s politics much, or they see them as these “traditional mother” figures who they embrace, and therefore the politics do not matter. Sadly, I have encountered way too many women that are not educated about the issues or politics in general. I think for them, they see Palin and/or Bachmann and think they can become engaged in politics with these candidates, who are speaking down to them. I’m just describing what I’ve personally seen. In general, people are pretty lazy when it comes to politics and don’t really vet out the candidates.

    To answer the thread more directly, I think that it is sometimes hard to support women JUST BECAUSE they are women. For example, Phyllis Schafly and her daughter have a new book out about the feminist movement. It makes me want to hurl…I can not support the book, the two of them or there ridiculous arguments. Does that make me less of a woman? Do I burn in hell (per Madeline Albright) for not supporting them? Yes, they have the freedom to express their opinion, but I worry about the many untruths in that book and how it may affect women that are not critically thinking about issues.

  4. A candidate should be supported if their policies align with what you believe in. So, no I do not believe a woman should support a woman just because she is a woman. And I find women like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachman insult all women, not all for their opposition to women’s rights issues but for their lack of preparation and knowledge on what they speak. I agree with Tamara that they both need to go back to school. The other thing I find interesting is that with all the bright, educated, articulate women in the Republican party (whose policies I might not agree with either) these are the two that command center stage for their party.

  5. Gloria Feldt says:

    Great conversation here. Seems to me that women like Sarah Palin give people who have spent their lives working for gender parity and equal opportunity cognitive dissonance. That’s why it’s important to ask the question now. The playing field is going to become increasingly muddled and it is doubtful that progressive women will keep their better than 2-1 advantage in females elected to public office if we don’t get clarity of values and positions about this. I’m pretty sure Madeleine Albright wasn’t referring to the Bachmann-Palin-Schlafly’s of this world.

    On twitter, Aimee Thorne-Thomsen suggested that we create some kind of accountability scorecard. What do you all think about that?

  6. Had this intriguing conversation about the question over on twitter. Wanted to share it here.
    Aimee Thorne-Thomse
    @gloriafeldt i wonder what accountability looks like…could we have a “report card” or other vehicle to measure how women help other women

    @aimeett I like that idea as a way to start. It’s always hard to get people to agree on a set of issues but gotta start somewhere.
    1 hour ago Favorite Reply Delete
    Aimee Thorne-Thomsen
    @gloriafeldt i mean one item could even be how many women that leader has on staff? what legislation have they pushed to benefit women
    Gloria Feldt
    @aimeett interesting conversation here too http://bit.ly/g8epml about whether women should support all women.

    Aimee Thorne-Thomsen
    @gloriafeldt i guess i’m more interested in outcomes – so i will support women whose WORK supports women in TANGIBLE ways.

    Gloria Feldt
    “i will support women whose WORK supports women in TANGIBLE ways.” This works till man&woman candidates are = then I vote 4woman.

    Aimee Thorne-Thomsen
    @gloriafeldt i agree. i won’t support a woman whose IMPACT is detrimental to women. i don’t care your party, your platform…#wamnyc

    Gloria Feldt
    @aimeett You got it right there, Aimee: IMPACT..

  7. Pingback: Negotiating Politics – Remembering Geraldine Ferraro - She Negotiates - And changes everything... - Forbes

  8. Celeste Pettijohn: Women should NOT support women like Bachman and Palin because they do not supportb oher women. Very simple. If a woman is one of the worst enemies to womn’s rights, we have no obligation to support than against our own self interests.

  9. Pingback: Rest in Peace Geraldine… | SWIRL

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  12. Aletha says:

    On the surface, Gloria, your question ought to be a no-brainer. Why should any self-respecting feminist support Ms. Palin or Ms. Bachmann? Feminism was never about supporting women in politics just because they are women, except possibly to defend any woman from sexist attacks. It does no good to extend political support to a woman who supports policies that would set women back.

    However, that said, if one digs beneath the surface, the question gets very tricky. Why should any self-respecting person support a politician who supports policies one cannot support? What about policies that the politician believes would help women, but would actually do the opposite, one glaring recent example being the health insurance reform bill, a mixed bag for women at best? Another glaring example is the war on terror. Palin and Bachmann probably actually believe their policies would help women. I have to confront these issues all the time, since I have such problems with most politicians. Very few politicians, regardless of gender, dare to propose any kind of radical challenge to the status quo, yet the status quo is disastrous for women, and to a lesser extent, everyone who is not benefiting from the corruption. Obviously nobody is perfect, so it has to come down to priorities.

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