Sarah Palin: Republican women say she represents a new kind of feminism

-by Beth Walton via phone

Amid talk of shattering the glass ceiling, Republican women seem to want to make one thing clear: Sarah Palin is not a feminist, at least not the kind traditionally associated with the "F-word." You know, a woman like Hillary Clinton.

"That word is so battered around, who knows what that means anymore," says Rebecca Hagelin, author of Home Invasion and staff member at the nonpartisan Heritage Foundation. Sarah Palin is the "new traditional woman. She believes in traditional values, but she doesn't follow conventional methods when living her life and career."

Just look at Hillary Clinton, Hagelin adds. She schemed for years and years to become president, but Palin just looked around her, saw problems, and stepped up to meet her community's needs. She went from the PTA to the governor's mansion and now is being considered as a vice-presidential candidate, and because of hard work and happenstance.

"Sarah Palin really represents the heart of American womanhood," says Hagelin. "The NOW [National Organization of Women] feminist ideal that you really have to be kind of like a man to operate in a 'man's world' is old-school and Palin proves that."

Susan Sandburg from Stillwater couldn't be happier with the Palin pick. "She's a conservative female, a go-getter. She doesn't let her gender get in the way. Just because she's a woman doesn't mean she can't get things accomplished. She's not a NOW feminist, the kind that promote abortion and hate men."

Pro-choice Republican Karen Hale, from St. Paul, finds Palin so refreshing she's willing to put her strong beliefs for a woman's right to choose aside and support the vice-presidential candidate. "She's not been corrupted by Washington," says Hale. For her, the Alaskan governor seems home-grown, something women from both parties, especially mothers and grandmothers, can relate to.

Speaking about Palin's unmarried daughter's unplanned pregnancy, Pale called it a "hiccup...something any parent of a teenager could relate to."

"Sometimes they don't pick the right path. Is what she did right or wrong? Who cares?" questions Pale. "What matters is she is standing by her daughter, it's not like she's the first woman in America to see her kid get pregnant out of wedlock."

Karin Agness, president of the Network of Enlightened Women (NEW), a nonpartisan organization, says Palin's ability to combine her family life with her successful career is showing the world a whole different kind of strong woman. Here on behalf of the Indiana delegation, the law student at the University of Virginia says Palin's conservative values won't deter women voters.

"A lot of liberal women spoke out in favor of having a female candidate. Sarah Palin is just challenging them to walk the walk. She's given them the opportunity to put a woman in higher office and now it's up to them to meet her call."

That, or she'll inspire them to vote Obama.


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