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June 23 2017

No Rejoicing From Media Feminists Over Karen Handel's Victory

by Charlotte Allen

It's fun to watch the feminist media's reaction to the woman who broke the glass ceiling--in Georgia's Sixth Congressional District, which had never elected a female representative since the lines were first drawn during the 1840s. Go, Karen Handel, right? Well, let's see:

Emma Gray at the HuffPost:

[B]eing a woman does not automatically make you good for womankind ? especially if your woman-y career has been dedicated to making life harder and worse for lots of women.

Handel supports the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, calling the ACA the “single biggest intrusion into the lives of Americans in decades.”

She is staunchly anti-abortion.

She has a history of supporting strict Voter-ID laws that disproportionately target people of color.

She said that she does not support a  “livable wage.” (Women are more likely to be employed in low-wage jobs. A 2016 Oxfam report found that of the 23.5 million people working low-wage jobs in the United States, 19 million are women.)

A glass ceiling broken is only worth celebrating if it means something for more than the individual smashing it.

Moving on to Jill Filopovic at Cosmopolitan:

During the presidential election, there were few things more frustrating for female Hillary Clinton supporters than the accusation that we were voting with our vaginas — that the only reason anyone could possibly support Clinton or be excited about the prospect of her as the first female president was because we look somewhat the same under our pants. No, many women insisted, we are excited because this would be an incredible milestone and it would be the woman we would like to see cross it. The overwhelming sexism Clinton faced, mostly from the right but from some of the left as well, reinforced the sense of urgency to get more women into positions of power. As fewer women are designated the “first” or the “only,” it will become normal to expect that they will be in the room and that won't be notable. The more women in office, the more the public will begin to associate power and authority with women too — and hopefully, fewer women in politics will get branded ambitious bitches and ball-busting manipulators.

But that isn't the whole calculus for feminists. Throughout history, women have also been on the front lines to stymie feminist progress. While feminist women fought for the right to vote, conservative anti-feminist women fought back, arguing that letting women vote would harm the family. When feminists pushed for the Equal Rights Amendment, it was conservative anti-feminist women, again, who led the charge against it — and won, killing the bill. Not every woman is out to help women. Women, just like men, can be selfish and vindictive; they can embrace the kind of "I've got mine" mentality that infuses right-wing arguments against aid to the poor, efforts to expand women's rights, and anything resembling universal health care. It's not particularly feminist to back anti-feminist women who run for office — political views should always outweigh identity alone.

And Kylie Chung at Mediaite:

So, how can we celebrate the victory of a woman who would see other women die to uphold her personal notions of moral superiority as the shattering of a glass ceiling? How can we celebrate Karen Handel when her insistence on cutting funding for family planning resources — which allow women to pursue education and careers on equal footing with men, allow women to shatter their own glass ceilings — as a feminist victory?

Put simply, we can’t. Handel’s victory is nearly as far from a win for women as the election of Donald Trump and Mike Pence was in November.

In other words, all that stuff about the "incredible milestone" and the "sense of urgency to get more women into positions of power" is so much...stuff. Feminism isn't actually about securing more political power for women, or for providing role models for our younger sisters, or for showing that women can do what men can do. It's about adding another constituency to the the standard agenda of the Democratic Party's most liberal wing: Unrestricted abortion, a $15-an-hour minimum wage, Obamacare forever, and so forth. All of this cleverly masked as "good for womankind"--even though there are plenty of women who would argue otherwise.

I don't know how most women feel about their supposed movement being just another arm of the Democratic Party. I know how I'd feel: used.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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