Elizabeth Dole: The Anti-Feminist

By Amy Whitlaw
Rightgrrl Contributor
September 12, 1999

It looks like the feminist movement is about to come full circle. After years of being told to support each other in the name of sisterhood, the diva of diversity-on-demand, Ms. Gloria Steinem, told an audience at Northern Michigan University that she'd support any woman candidate -- as long as it isn't Elizabeth Dole.

Any women candidate? Now, I mean, N.O.W., does that include RuPaul?

America's best-known feminist was quoted in a Channel 4000 article entitled "Thumbs Down for Dole" saying that it would be "disastrous to the women's movement" if Dole were elected.

Gee, maybe that's why Elizabeth Dole's supporters include so many women. Bring on the disaster, sis.

Steinem also remarked that "Dole is not in touch with the views of most women ".

Really? Why can't she be honest and say she's speaking for card carrying members of the National Organization for Women (N.O.W.) and maybe a few of those diehard Lifetime Television for Women fans?

One look at Mrs. Dole's track record and it's apparent her achievements are the result of being in touch with the views of both women and men. When she was working in the White House's Office of Consumer Affairs, her goal was to ensure safer food packaging for both sexes. Fast forward to her presidency of the Red Cross where she spearheaded efforts improve the safety of the blood supply for all humanity.

Dole has spent almost three decades in public service, working to improve life for every American. Under her four and half years as George Bush's Secretary of Transportation, the U.S. had the safest record to date in air, rail and highway transportation. This included the transportation of males as well as females.

Such facts are of little use to feminists, who were unreservedly critical when Dole resigned from her position with the Federal Trade Commission in 1979 to help campaign for her husband, Bob Dole, who was at the time, Gerald Ford's running mate. Dole's response: "What we women fought for was the ability to make decisions as to what we feel is best for ourselves and our families."

Makes perfect sense to me.

But not to Patricia Ireland, who, during an interview with Mary Matalin several months ago on CNBC's Hardball, said N.O.W. could not support Dole's candidacy because Dole was not a feminist. Matalin looked at her in disbelief, rattled off some of Dole's achievements and pressed on, until Ireland finally said that a feminist cannot be pro-life. Well, there you have it. You have to be a equal opportunity aborter to be an equal rights amender.

I'm embarrassed to say that I didn't know the lines were so clearly drawn. I thought feminism was all about ensuring that women have the same rights as men. Now I realize if you choose not to support the pro-choice agenda, you won't be supported by feminists.

Maybe you're reading this and yelling "Duh, Amy...". Well, I arrived at the conservative party a little late, shortly after figuring out that no matter how much you contribute to advancing the careers of women, the financial gains for women,
or the safety of women, unless you take the pro-choice stance, N.O.W. will swipe you right off their playing field.

So much for all that "leveling".

Why didn't Gloria Steinem simply say she cannot support a pro-life President in the first place, instead of claiming that Dole is out of touch with women? Perhaps the feminists are so tired of only being associated with issues like abortion and sexual harassment that they've adapted the Clintonesque manner of beating around the bush to beat up on Dole.

As for Dole, the abortion issue may make or break her candidacy. On March 14, Newsweek noted that "she is expected to say that she is 'personally pro-life,' and that she supports various measures to reduce the incidence of abortion." As of August 25, her official website (www.edole2000.org) addresses just about every issue but the abortion issue. Whether she will pick up any support from conservatives remains to be seen. But the fact that she is "personally pro-life" was enough to send the feminists fleeing, regardless of Dole's experience or her appeal to female voters.

To be fair, I can see why it might be a little humiliating for the feminists. All that effort put into cheapening human life, only to have the first female President be pro-life (and a Republican). Yes, there would a bit of zygote...I mean egg...on the faces of those who gave us the right to devalue such things as motherhood and marriage. It must be a nerve wracking revelation-the thought that women can achieve the same things men can achieve without any help from N.O.W.

This is why I am intrigued by Elizabeth Dole. I like the fact that while other women were running around burning their bras, she was pursing her Harvard Law Degree. I like that she arrived in Washington and carved out a distinguished career using her intelligence and self-determination instead of her husband's coat tails. And I find it refreshing that she was appointed to her posts by five presidents because she was the most qualified candidate, not because she threatened to sue for gender discrimination. Instead of talking about the need to be liberated, Dole just did what she set out to do, without igniting a single undergarment.

One could argue that I am backing Dole because she is a woman. Perhaps, as I've grown tired of men who behave so badly. At least I'm honest about it. And I don't claim to speak for most women.

America has been speculating for years as to when we would see a woman in the White House. It's sad that when a worthy candidate comes along, the woman who has spent years fighting for such an achievement would say "oh, anyone but her." Yet, I understand where Ms. Steinem is coming from. If Hillary Clinton we're seeking the Presidency, my reaction would be the same..."any woman but her." And that would probably include RuPual.

No wonder it's taking so long.

Amy's web site: It Takes a Parent

This article copyright © 1999 by Amy Whitlaw and may not be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of its author. All rights reserved.