Rush Limbaugh and other right wing Republicans have often ranted about the evils of feminism and yet one of the top right wing Republicans in the nation now claims the title of “frontier feminist.” Is Sarah Palin really a feminist? This week’s Washington Post’s “On Faith” topic is: Faith, feminism and abortion.
Sarah Palin pleased fans and angered foes with her speech to the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, calling herself a “frontier feminist” and saying, “choosing life may not be the easiest path, but it’s always the right path… God sees a way where we cannot, and He doesn’t make mistakes.” Meanwhile, an Arizona nun was “automatically excommunicated” for agreeing with a Catholic hospital’s ethics committee’s decision to allow an abortion to save a mother’s life. “While medical professionals should certainly try to save a pregnant mother’s life, the means by which they do it can never be by directly killing her unborn child,” Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix said in a statement. Can you be a feminist and oppose abortion in all circumstances? Can you be a person of faith and support abortion in some circumstances?
The concept of feminism generally refers to the idea of gender equality. This concept causes a bit of a contradiction for politically active Bible literalists like Sarah Palin. On the one hand in her speech to the Susan B. Anthony List, Palin talks about how women can be professional and still be mothers. This message is very much consistent with the ideals of feminism. On the other hand, the Bible has numerous verses about the role of women to be submissive to their men. Women are often treated as property in the Bible.
At every step of the feminist movement, the Bible has been used by Christians to fight against gender equality. Religion has continually tried to force women to remain barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen. Frontier feminism simply adds that women ought to be wielding a gun just like their husbands to be used only as their husbands dictate.
What is also interesting about Palin’s speech is that she talked about her choice to have her child and her child’s choice to have her child all the while trying to restrict others from making a choice of their own. In one sense, being anti-abortion makes perfect sense for a theocratic view in that the best way to keep women subservient to men is to make sure they are always dependant on men. This means restricting their choices and keeping them perpetually pregnant. This is one of the reasons why the Catholic Church and many fundamentalist Christian groups are so fervently against contraception and comprehensive sex education. However, from a Republican standpoint, being anti-choice doesn’t seem to make sense at all.
One of the main Republican philosophies is that big government is bad and any government regulations are bad. Yet it seems that Republicans like Sarah Palin have no problem giving the big bad government the power to regulate the choices of individual women. Here politics and faith clash and more often than not faith wins in the name of politics.
Comprehensive sex education and contraceptives help to prevent unwanted pregnancies before they occur so that women are faced with such a difficult choice. When a situation does become actualized and a woman has an unwanted pregnancy it is very difficult. Often times there are financial difficulties, emotional difficulties, and even sometimes social difficulties mixed into the situations which have to be considered. It is easy to sit back and make a blanket statement like, “all abortions are wrong” but the reality is that we are dealing with real people in real situations.
Real feminism isn’t the Palin approach of telling all women that big government has made their choice for them. Nor is feminism the theocratic approach of telling them that God has suddenly taken away their free will. Real feminism takes place before the situation becomes actualized. Gender equality begins with sex education, access to contraceptives in a guilt free environment, and sharing the responsibility of being decision makers both in the home and in the workplace.
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On Faith Series:
On Faith: National day of prayer and masturbation
On Faith: Can religion handle sex?
On Faith: Is the media biased against the Catholic Church?
On Faith: Is the Pope above the law?
On Faith: What is heaven like?
On Faith: Disbelief in the pulpit
On Faith: Catholic Church’s attempt to blackmail Washington fails
On Faith: Is proselytizing overseas religious freedom or coercion?
On Faith: Should religion have a role be in U.S. foreign affairs?
On Faith: Should the president be a religious figure?
On Faith: Does God allow Haiti to suffer?
On Faith: Media biased against Christians?
On Faith: Free speech vs. God
On Faith: Religion’s Impact 2009
On Faith: Climate change a moral issue?
On Faith: Good News — Oral Roberts is dead
On Faith: Just war or holy war in Afghanistan?
On Faith: A crèche in the White House?
On Faith: Swiss ban on Islamic minarets
On Faith: holidays or holy days?
Atheism 101 Articles:
Atheism 101: What is the difference between atheism and agnosticism?
Atheism 101: Is there moral grounding without God?
Atheism 101: What happens when we die?
Atheism 101: The Purpose of Life
Atheism 101: The Nature of Good and Evil
Atheism 101: The Problem of Evil
Atheism 101: Is the Bible the inspired word of God?
Atheism 101: The anti-intellectualism of religion
Atheism 101: Why has Christianity demonized nudity, sex and sexuality?
Atheism 101: How to respond to the lord, liar, lunatic argument?
Atheism 101: Does it take more faith to be an atheist?
Atheism 101: What came before the Universe?
Atheism 101: How to respond to the ex-atheist
Atheism 101: Refuting Presupposition Theology
Atheism 101: Refuting Dispensational Theology