The Bipartisan Feminist Project
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines feminism as the political, economic and social equality of sexes. This definition seems relatively agreeable, however to many it seems that the women’s movement has always been partisan and controversial. As of 2017, 32% of Democrats identified as feminists, however only 5% of Republicans did. This has become a major impediment to the women’s movement, as it is difficult to achieve a goal when we can not agree that the goal exists.
Although before 1980, most feminists were Republicans, and many others rejected partisan ties entirely. They viewed partisanship as a part of a flawed status quo that could not stand in the way of their vital movement. As a united base, they supported the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) from the early to mid 20th century. But when the solidarity of feminism was extinguished, so was this progressive Amendment. The Republican party abandoned support for the ERA in favor of a Constitutional amendment against abortion–the party’s feminist leaders were forced to take sides, and the women’s movement fell into the downward spiral of party loyalty.
In our society, many assume a stance on feminism based on their party beliefs, and women and men are often condemned for breaking this expectation. The form of feminism that is considered politically “acceptable” is not sufficient to unite our nation, solely because it needs to be approved. This not only attempts to guide women’s actions, but also makes much of the movement void of meaning. Michael Tessler, a political scientist at UCLA, has demonstrated that the partisan nature of feminism has had a similar effect on the women’s movement as Obama’s election has had on identity politics: as one party supports women, the other develops resentment for the mere thought of doing so. The result is that people do not become feminists because they believe in respecting women, or even because they have been discriminated against in the past–they call themselves feminists because it’s what people in their party, town, socio-economic class, and school urge them to do. As a result, it has become routine for women to be inches away from a landmark, but be abandoned when it is most opportune for their party.
I started the Bipartisan Feminist Project because our country is beginning to pursue a new path, and this generation can be a vital part of it. We look to facilitate the open discussion necessary to take feminism back to its original conception. To learn more, register for our class, or sign up for our newsletter, go to bipartisanfeministproject.org.