Religion historian Marie Griffith has been watching this shift, and recently wrote an essay titled “The New Evangelical Feminism of Bachmann and Palin.” She caught all kinds of heat from feminists on the left who say that neither Bachmann nor Palin, whom some have dubbed “the spiritual heads” of the tea party, can remotely be regarded as their conceptual colleagues.
While Griffith agrees that these women do not resemble traditional feminists in their political views, she believes that they have captured the hearts and minds of conservative Christian women in a historically significant way. Two generations ago, a conservative Christian woman would have been encouraged to have babies and keep house; work would have been seen as an economic necessity, not a higher calling.
“Now,” says Griffith, director of the new John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis, “I really see evangelicals taking hold of that view that women can speak about righteous godly things, just as men can. They can make an impact on the world. Not only that, they should make an impact on the world.”
Nance points out that the abortion wars used to be fought by men. Today, the most prominent antiabortion warriors are Christian women, most of whom have young children.
It’s their focus on motherhood, I think, that makes these new Christian feminists so appealing to millions — their unflinching insistence that their families come first, that even the most ambitious among them occasionally have spit-up on their blouses.
Palin has her entourage; Bachmann, her brood, which includes that staggering number — 23! — of foster kids. Nance describes taking a call from a member of Congress while in her car with a baby screaming in the back seat. “Sir,” she said, “you’ll have to listen to the baby crying — or you can wait.”
Remember though that Michele Bachmann took time out from her career to homeschool her 5 children, so family comes first. Michele has denied that she is a feminist, and I agree with her. To be a feminist in the traditional sense, you have to favor state-run day care, state-funded abortions, selfishness, premarital sex, contraception, no-fault divorce and gender neutrality. Feminists also oppose marriage, limited government, personal responsibility, fathers, and husbands. I don’t think that Michele Bachmann is a feminist in any way whatsoever. She is a woman, her way of life is being threatened, and it’s all hands on deck.