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Michele Bachmann Is No Feminist

Posted: 06/29/11 04:46 PM ET

Forget the "girl power"; Michele Bachmann is no feminist.

She may be leading the charge as the first female presidential candidate of the 2012, but make no mistake, the 'f-word' does not describe the Minnesota congresswoman, or so she told the Daily Beast.

In an interview Bachmann said she'd rather describe herself "as pro-woman and pro-man" or as an "empowered American."

"Feminist" is not a word often used by politicians, conservative or liberal; Sarah Palin's onetime mention of an "emerging conservative feminist identity" notwithstanding, the term has become so taboo that no one with an election to win goes near it. But the outright rejection of the word is amusing; a feminist, and his or her core, is someone who is pro-woman and pro-man; someone who believes in equality.

Or as Slate puts it:

One of the most irritating things about the past few years of Sarah Palin's shadow has been the tedious debates over whether or not there's such a thing as a "conservative feminist," i.e., a "feminist" who opposes everything that feminists fight for, except the election of women into office.

Bachmann describes herself as "a woman comfortable in her own skin." She grew up with three brothers, but her parents didn't restrict her to "women's work." "I would mow the lawn and take out the trash; I was making my own fishing lures. I went along with everything the boys did."

Perhaps to emphasize why Bachmann should be a feminist, The Daily Beast suggests that Bachmann is already the target of sexist criticism. As we all know, Bachmann, like Palin, has tendency to put her foot in her mouth, or just get facts plain wrong. This past week she accidentally compared herself to the clown serial killer John Wayne Gacy, and misidentified John Quincy Adams as a Founding Father. The Beast asserts that both missteps were reported by the media with special eagerness because Bachmann is a woman. "If Joe Biden's gaffes had received half the attention of Bachmann's," wrote the Daily Beast, nobody would take him seriously, either."

As Rebecca Traister made clear in her book Big Girls Don't Cry (and a subsequent conversation with Nora Ephron at the 92nd Street Y), sexism is still alive and well in politics, especially when a viable female presidential candidate emerges. But reports of Bachmann's inaccuracies aren't a great example of that sexism, given the press' hunger to broadcast any linguistic flub -- before there were Bachmannisms or Palinisms or even Bidenisms, there were widely noted Bushisms.

Given Bachmann's disdain for women's rights causes -- she recently called Planned Parenthood "the Lenscrafters of big abortion" -- it's a fair bet that most feminists are glad Bachmann doesn't count herself one of them. But it's still strange that she's so glad about it herself.

 

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