Friday 3 June 2011

The Stagnation of the Conservative Woman: Courtney Pannell reflects

Writing in The Yale Herald, my friend Courtney Pannell, a young conservative woman herself, reflects in an absolutely brilliant article on the problems that many women are experiencing with American conservatism and the Republican Party today: -

"The GOP doesn’t plan on win­ning the female vote in 2012 — or ever, at this rate. Demo­c­ra­tic oppo­nents are call­ing the recent House move to slash fund­ing from Planned Par­ent­hood another exam­ple of the GOP’s “War on Women.” This war is only strength­ened by con­ser­v­a­tive female fig­ure­heads, such as Michelle Bach­mann and Sarah Palin, and the ideals that they are laud­ing, which are out of step with the desires and strug­gles of the mod­ern woman.
Last week, I attended CPAC, the Con­ser­v­a­tive Polit­i­cal Action Con­fer­ence, which is basi­cally a red car­pet event for the Who’s Who of the right... As a con­ser­v­a­tive woman myself, I was looking for­ward to com­mis­er­at­ing with fel­low right-leaning ladies — but they were awfully hard to find. Walk­ing into the con­ven­tion cen­ter lobby, I tweeted, “Where are all the women?” in an attempt to send a ral­ly­ing cry. I was hard-pressed to find any­one that wasn’t a wannabe-cowboy or Mitt Rom­ney look-a-like, much less some­one with a two X chromosomes. 
I finally found a room of women at a panel dis­cus­sion called “The Awak­en­ing of the Con­ser­v­a­tive Woman.” The golden girl of the panel was Phyl­lis Schlafly, an 86-year-old woman who was piv­otal in killing the Equal Rights Amend­ment in the ‘70s. Along­side her was colum­nist S.E. Cupp, campaign-finance lawyer Cleta Mitchell, and Rep. Michelle Bachmann. 
Although all the pan­elists were accom­plished work­ing­women and the event was about awak­en­ing the con­ser­v­a­tive woman, I was shocked by their repres­sive and out­worn mes­sag­ing points. Some­one should prob­a­bly look up “awak­en­ing” in Webster’s, because I might as well have been tak­ing life lessons at the kitchen table of June Cleaver. 
Now, I’m not here to debate the value of stay-at-home wives and moth­ers; my mother has been one for 25 years. In my view, the fam­ily is the cor­ner­stone of a great soci­ety, so mar­riage and moth­er­hood should be cel­e­brated. But... behind their glory sto­ries about find­ing their mates was the idea that a woman has to com­pro­mise her career goals in order to achieve the sup­posed great­est goals of wom­an­hood: mar­riage and moth­er­hood. “You can’t have it all at the same time,” Mitchell even said to the crowd. She fol­lowed up the state­ment with an anec­dote. A young woman (a Har­vard stu­dent, no less) told Mitchell that she would even­tu­ally hire a nanny to help run her house­hold, because she hoped to have a job and chil­dren. “Can’t you just get a dog?” Mitchell snark­ily replied to the young lady. 
What’s ironic about this work­ing mother dichotomy is that in any other room at CPAC you would have heard speak­ers plead­ing with young atten­dees to go into busi­ness, become entrepreneurs, help Amer­ica inno­vate. But the GOP women seem to want to leave that dream up to the boys..."

For Coco's full article, click HERE.


  1. I wish I could devote myself to just being a mother and running a house. So do most of my friends. It was all I ever wanted. The problem is that the current economy demands that many families have two incomes.

  2. Although then we wouldn't have had your novels!! I'm very glad Coco's article highlighted that it's important not to belittle the idea of being a home-maker, since it's a wonderful vocation, but equally, I think she's right in saying belittling those who want to serve their country in the public sphere is equally unhelpful. A balance is important. On a different note, I always enjoy Courtney's writing style.


Related Posts with Thumbnails