I DO NOT WANT TO WRITE ABOUT Palin’s “Mama Grizzlies!”
i don’t. I Don’t! I DON’T!!
I do not want to give any attention to this farcical movement. Really, I don’t. But here it is anyway. Those fucking Mama Grizzlies fill a need. It’s a need many old-time-feminists not unlike myself, fail to understand – one that firmly establishes a post-feminist place for women in the world. A place that incorporates some of the ideologies of feminism while remaining firmly planted in traditional family values.
Traditional-minded women are in an uncomfortable position. They, like their modern counterparts are part of a trend that puts women in positions of relative authority. While there is still a frightening glass ceiling for women in power, for the remaining female workforce demographic there is a big pressure cooker experience. More women are entering and successfully completing college than ever before. That translates into more female head of households than ever before as well. While a the same time their are the same or less number of women in places of power – like as acting CEO’s or holding Senate seats. This changed reality translates into a new paradigm for marriage and family life. These are not just traditional conservative values as understood by most Americans, but rather a global sea-change in the role of women in society. For a woman with traditional family values, where is the appropriate political outlet for expressing the concerns and and challenges of this modern lifestyle in their everyday lives? This is the same demographic that heretofore encouraged women at large to eschew the tenets if feminism and are now the sometimes unwilling recipients of feminisms’ benefits.
Where else do women like Sarah Palin and her followers have to go besides tracking in the tired stilettoed heels of women like Phyllis Schlafly? If they acknowledge that the education and work experience they receive translates into a position of authority over their own lives – a personal power that feels good – then they also have to balance that feeling with the values that have been important in their family realtions. And those values do not necessarily mesh with the new kind of lifestyles women are economically pushed into.
So these women live with a kind of tension in their lives. It’s hard to value the idea of being a stay-at-home-mother and then finding oneself being successful in college and and the workplace. Women like Ann Coulter may bag on feminists all she likes but her lifestyle certainly cries feminist hallelujahs in her unmarried, professionally and political successful careerist endeavors, even as she plays on the wrong team. So when I see Meghan McCain stating that she’s “trying to get people who feel like they’ve been neglected [by the Republican party] to know that they have a home with me,” I know that she is talking about conservative women who might be rationally pro-choice, but politically republican. And she is working on making a name for herself separate from her father, but without a husband and children to back her up. It’s a tenuous position at best. Sarah Palin herself might’ve faired better were she single because having her family laundry aired in the last presidential campaign did her more damage than her own charming stupidity and has since faired better by leaving them at home.
So the Mama Grizzlies are a grassroots extension of the angst felt by women who are thrust into the role as head of household but whose families really prefer they act more ladylike. When Meghan McCain complains to the New York Times that she would like to a leader, but her gender makes her vulnerable to criticism noting that, “we still have a glass ceiling. It’s not been shattered… there’s blatant sexism everywhere.” Where are the regular women of the world, the successful young female managers and workers supposed to find mates who will not resent their authority and financial independence?
What looked like a problem for banshied-feminists like myself in the 80’s has 90’s has now come to face women from all walks of life including those with narrow views on the roles women should play in society. I am disgusted that these Mama-Grizzlies call themselves neo-feminists and yet work against the very tenets of feminism like reproductive freedom and equal pay for equal work. However I might feel about them though, I have to acknowledge they are doing something old-timey feminists like myself have been unsuccessful at thusfar…
They are taking the f-bomb sentiment out of the word feminist and in their foolish co-opting, making the ideals of feminism front page news again.