Republican and feminist? Yes, it’s possible

The PHOENIX/Emma Cook

I believe in social, political and economic equality for women. I am also a Republican.

People are shocked to learn that I believe wholeheartedly in the feminist movement.

“But you’re a Republican,” they tell me.

So what?

The PHOENIX/Emma Cook
The PHOENIX/Emma Cook

The Jan. 29 article by Kris Skul, titled “Opposition to abortion is more diverse than media implies,” brilliantly outlined the diversity of the pro-life movement. Her article focused on the media’s failure to cover the “nontraditional” groups within a larger cause, and this idea really encouraged me to write this article. Because, believe it or not, the feminist movement is tremendously diverse and, yes, we Republican women have something to say about it.

Women in the Republican Party are widely under-represented. Elected Republican officials have time after time made ignorant statements regarding women. Take Todd Akin, for example. In 2012, Akin, a six-term Congressman from Missouri, told a St. Louis television station, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” in regard to pregnancies resulting from rape.

Akin, however, is not the only conservative leader to make such disturbing gaffes. Remember the “binders full of women” from Mitt Romney? Frankly, as a conservative woman, I am embarrassed.

You see, I do not view feminism as having political boundaries. While historically the feminist movement has been progressive and therefore liberal, and yes, the Democratic Party has absorbed feminist ideals into their campaigns, I do not believe this should define what feminism is or what a feminist should be. Feminism is not limited to the Democratic Party — there are plenty of Republican women who are ready and willing to fight for women’s equality. We Republican women are not the product of our party’s leaders and we are tired of being under-represented.

The economic gender gap, growing statistics of rape and sexual assault, women’s treatment (or lack thereof) in the media, as well as the continuously low number of female elected officials from both major parties are issues that both frighten and concern me. However, because of some disturbing comments made by men in my political party, I am perceived by other women to either not care or even oppose feminist ideals. The media has played a huge role in focusing on what Republicans have done wrong regarding women’s rights and have left conservative women who believe and support feminist ideals out of the conversation.

Women fight every day for economic, social and political equality, but because we are Republicans, we are being ignored.

Conservative feminists are continuously being ignored by the central feminist movement as well — at least the ones who are pro-life. Most feminist movements today are particularly focused on abortion rights and birth control, and those who disagree with aspects of these arguments are often forgotten about or ignored.

Being a part of the feminist movement should not hinge on the sole argument of abortion. Abortion, to me and to other conservatives and liberals alike, is a discussion of human, not women’s, rights. The women’s equality movement should not be defined as being pro-choice, because it depends on so much more than this one factor.

To the feminists out there I will say this: Not all Republican women seek to hide behind the ignorance of some of their leaders, not all Republican women feel that they are being represented by their party and not all Republican women are happy with their party’s stance, or lack thereof, on gender equality issues.

So, for the record, I would like to say that yes, I am a feminist; yes, I support equality for women; and yes, I am a Republican.

Christina Tenuta is a contributing columnist. You can contact her at ctenuta@luc.edu

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