Connie Schultz | If Sarah Palin Is a Feminist, Then I’m President of the Tea Party

Betcha didn’t know I’m president of our local tea party. Am, too.

I’m also a middleweight boxer. Whew, talk about muscle pain. Good thing I’m a massage therapist as well.

You didn’t know that? Where’ve you been?

Guess that means you never knew I won the Boston Marathon in 1987. Ran in bare feet, I did. Sometimes, my frontier spirit just fills me up until I’m punch-drunk with adventure. Growin’ up in the wild, wild West, and all.

Don’t tell me you didn’t know that, either. Geez.

Listen, I don’t want you to feel bad if you didn’t know all these things about amazing me. I kinda kept ’em to myself until I heard that Sarah Palin is now calling herself a feminist. I figured, if she can claim that, I can be anything I want to be in the wink of an eye.

Earlier this month, Sarah Palin gave a speech to the Susan B. Anthony List, a PAC that raises money for female congressional candidates who oppose abortion rights.

Now, you may be thinking: Wait a minute. Susan B. Anthony? Wasn’t she all about women’s rights?

Look at you, insisting on facts. Too sweet.

Yes, Anthony was quite the buttinski when it came to women’s rights. But in true Palin style, this PAC co-opted Anthony’s name and her intentions, and turned them into something she never would have supported.

Exhibit A, from Palin’s May 14 speech: “Organizations like the Susan B. Anthony list are returning the woman’s movement back to its original roots, back to what it was all about in the beginning. You remind us of the earliest leaders of the woman’s rights movement: They were pro-life.”

See? Truth evaporates. Like magic.

Historian Ann Gordon, who edited Anthony’s papers, and Lynn Sherr, who wrote a biography of Anthony, offered this reality check in a piece for the Washington Post:

“We have read every single word that this very voluble — and endlessly political — woman left behind. Our conclusion: Anthony spent no time on the politics of abortion. It was of no interest to her, despite living in a society (and a family) where women aborted unwanted pregnancies.”

Oh, but they do go on:

“The (Susan B. Anthony) List’s mission statement proclaims, ‘Although (Anthony) is known for helping women win the right to vote, it is often untold in history that she and most early feminists were strongly pro-life.’ There’s a good reason it’s ‘untold:’ historians and good journalists rely on evidence. Of which there is none.”


Not to worry, Palin fans. When have you ever known her to let facts get in the way of a good sound bite? Nosiree. She’s all about the “emerging, conservative feminist identity.”

Exhibit B:

“(T)hese feminist groups (translation: women like this columnist) want to try to tell women, send this message that, ‘Nope, you’re not capable of doing both. You can’t give your child life and still pursue career and education. You’re not strong enough. You’re not capable. So it’s very hypocritical of those … pro-women’s rights groups out there.'”

Yep. That’s the feminist mantra all right: You’re weak and stupid, and we don’t want you birthin’ no babies.

Good Lord.

I’ve been a feminist since the first time I told my daddy, “No!” OK, maybe not quite that early, but it’s been a long while. To me, being a feminist means supporting women in all their choices. So, if Palin wants to call herself a feminist, I’m not going to quibble with her. I might have a hard time stifling the giggles when I say it out loud, but life is all about finding unexpected joy, yes?

Sarah Palin is a feminist.

There. I said it. The dog just flew out of the kitchen ‘cuz I was laughing so hard, but the ol’ girl needed a little exercise.

There’s just one teensy weeny thing that has me a bit confused. Palin is the darling of the tea partiers, who want the government to stay out of people’s lives, right? But that same Sarah Palin wants the government to control what a woman can do with her own body.

So, Palin wants the government to target only women who can reproduce? Women like our daughters, our daughters-in-law and 60 percent of my women friends?

Well, that does it.

I am resigning as president of the local tea party.

Oh, yes, I am.

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland and essayist for Parade magazine.

Copyright 2010