The new feminism of Palin and Bachmann

by Jamie Manson

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In an essay in the Huffington Post, Marie Griffith analyzes the peculiar brand of feminism adopted by America’s most prominent female evangelicals: Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann.

Griffith, who serves as director of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., notes that the evangelical feminism of Palin and Bachmann is a “far cry” from the original movement founded by Christian women in the 1970s.

Back then, evangelical feminists found their faith in an egalitarian Jesus. They saw clear connections between their Christian beliefs and the principles of the Women’s Liberation Movement.

These Evangelical women leaned left, while the new breed of Evangelical feminists always seem to take a hard right.

Given their conservatism, how can Palin, Bachmann and their ilk be considered feminists? Griffith offers a helpful explanation:

"What is 'feminist' about them, for those who want to use that descriptive, is their belief that God calls women no less than men to fight His battles against Satan on earth. Women hold awesome power as spiritual warriors, in this worldview; they're not doormats, nor should their godly duties be confined to the domestic sphere. This is its own sort of egalitarianism, to be sure, but it is one far more compatible with the complementarian theology of arch-conservative Protestantism than with the feminism of liberal religion. After all, Bachmann and Palin have both made much of their roles as wives, mothers and churchgoers in a way meant to show that their political leadership will not upend the gender hierarchy so crucial in the conservative evangelical home and church sanctuary."

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