When is sexism acceptable? The answer should be never. Yet for many feminists in our country, only certain types of women have been worth defending. When a conservative woman is the target of an attack, many so-called feminists stay silent. This "selective sexism", or speaking out against sexism on a case by case basis, does not advance our national dialogue on women's issues. Rather, selective sexism allows a dangerous level of permissible sexism to live and breed in our country. The only way for the women of this country to truly move forward is to unite and speak out against all forms of sexism regardless of party or the source of the attack.
When Playboy publishes a piece titled So Right It's Wrong which is a "hate rape" fantasy of Guy Cambalo targeting ten conservative women, all women (and like-minded men) should be outraged and renounce this immediately. The identity and party affiliation of the 10 women is not of consequence -- this is simply a despicable act.
Or when Ms. California, Carrie Prejean, voices her point of view on gay marriage and then becomes the target of an objectifying sexist rant by Keith Olbermann, where's the outrage? Carrie is entitled to her point of view, and if you don't agree explain why -- don't diminish her opinion by turning her into a sexual object.
Or when Governor Sarah Palin's 14 year-old daughter is the subject of a degrading and humiliating joke by David Letterman, how can we let this be part of our culture? How would any one of us feel if this comment were directed at our daughter? And if Governor Palin were Governor "Sam" Palin, would Letterman dare to make that joke?
Or, on the other side of the spectrum, when Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi is compared to the James Bond villainess "Pussy Galore" in a RNC Video -- is that acceptable? Even if we do not agree with Rep. Pelosi on policy or think she has been a mentor to other women, we should still defend her from a sexist attack. Issues are fair game, sexist treatment should not be.
And frankly our country deserves better. In 2008, we passed a major milestone in electing our country's first African American president. And now suddenly comes an awareness that, yes, our country can take great pride in our advances against racism; but at the same time comes a realization that perhaps we have not yet come so far in our battle against sexism.
But times they are a changing and one can see, that ever so slowly, the country is having some "wait-a-minute-that's-not-right" moments. To realize, yes, we have a come a long way baby - but we still need to travel that last mile. And that last mile is eradicating the roots of sexism and misogyny, deeply buried in darkness, ignorance and bias. And this realization has produced agents of change: new women's groups birthed out of the 2008 election to speak out against sexism such as The New Agenda, WomenCount and Campaign for Gender Equality; as well as countless blogs forming an internet presence.
We see the successes of our collective actions. We see how The New Agenda can issue an action alert about the RNC "Pussy Galore" video and have our members write to Michael Steele and within 24 hours, the video is pulled. Or where Twitter and countless blogs condemned the Playboy article and shortly thereafter it disappeared. Because frankly these attackers know better - they are aware that this is not for the good of our country. They just need that gentle nudge of enlightenment.
But with these small victories, we must keep our eye on the prize. The real challenge for our country is to not selective actions, but rather collective action. We need to roll up our sleeves and do some digging together. To get down deep below the surface and work on eradicating those stubborn roots which have been flourishing for decades in the fertile soil of ignorance and hatred.
And we need to do this excavation as a team. All women and like-minded men must band together and unite in this crucial undertaking. We must put aside our political party, and even some issues that are divisive to women. We must instead choose to focus on what unites us, and what unites us is this: we want to make this country better for future generations. We want our daughters and granddaughters to grow up in a country where they are safe and have opportunity. That, we can all agree on.
Follow Amy Siskind on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AmyTheNewAgenda