Christina Hoff Sommers and Christine Rosen have coauthored today's must-read: "How Carly Fiorina Is Redefining Feminism." The subhead of the Politico article sums up an important aspect of Fiorina's new brand of feminism: "Step One: Less Whining."
Unlike Hillary Clinton, Fiorina doesn't play the gender card. She furthermore spurns gender pandering. When asked during the last debate which woman she would put on the ten-dollar bill, Fiorina politely refused to play along. "It's a gesture," she said.
But the receptionist turned CEO certainly knows a thing or two about the challenges women face:
Fiorina is not blind to the challenges women still face, but she comes to them with an understanding of the history of women’s progress as a bipartisan movement of expanding opportunity and often mentions solutions that are not ideologically driven. Doing so challenges traditional feminist shibboleths.
For example, feminist writer Amanda Marcotte speaks for many in the movement when she declares, “Opponents of legal abortion can’t be feminists.” But women as a group are actually ambivalent about abortion. According to a recent Quinnipiac University poll, only 24 percent believe it should be legal in all circumstances. Thirty-one percent believe it should be legal in most cases, and 40 percent say rarely or never.
Even if you are pro-choice (which we both are) it is both un-sisterly and impractical to organize a “women’s” movement that excludes and often demonizes close to half or more of the adult female population.
And then there’s Fiorina’s idea that true gender equity is signaled more by equal opportunity than by statistically equal outcomes. One feminist writer in Salon recently called her “delusional” for daring to suggest (in good equity-feminist fashion) that the best thing for women is a meritocracy that rewards workers’ performance regardless of sex and doesn’t promote aggressive government intervention in the economy. “She isn’t promoting a redefinition of feminism,” the writer argued. “Fiorina is just peddling the same old right wing bullshit and calling it by a different name.”
Perhaps Fiorina’s feelings about meritocracy have something to do with her experience as a former female CEO and the only female Republican presidential candidate in the race. She has faced without complaint much stricter scrutiny of her abilities as a candidate than have her male peers. Donald Trump tosses off glib remarks about how he would “get along very well with Vladimir Putin” and people chuckle; Fiorina demonstrates an understanding and strong point of view about America’s complicated defense interests and foreign policy and critics claim she merely did a “weekend study of some Middle Eastern names.”
Hoff Sommers and Rosen conclude:
If Fiorina’s postfeminist path to the White House continues to gain adherents, and her invocation of the values of equity feminism continues to resonate among voters, the Democrats’ “War on Women” meme collapses, as does the sanctimony and singularity of Hillary’s invocation that she is making history.
But Republicans should be thrilled, because Fiorina gives them something they haven’t had in recent memory: a candidate who isn’t clueless, tongue-tied, or just plain embarrassing when the subject of women comes up.