Hey, that’s the tagline of my blog! See what I did there??
One of the questions I’ve hoped to explore more fully in this blog is this: can you be both a conservative and a feminist.
Yes. Yes you can.
There, that was easy.
But srlsly tho. Why is it even a question? Why couldn’t a person be both a conservative and a feminist? Why can’t those things coexist within one person? Why do feminists have to be only liberal? Is feminism really linked inextricably to liberalism?
I looked up feminism in the dictionary: “The advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.” That doesn’t seem in any way partisan. To me, it only makes sense for feminism to be independent of political ideology. After all, women have a set of commonalities and needs that differ from those of other groups and have mutual political and cultural goals that grow out of those commonalities and needs.
Why can’t people seem to wrap their heads around that?
Women have things in common, what a shocker. Men have things in common. Children have things in common. Parents have things in common. Americans have things in common. Canadians have things in common. Various groups of all stripes and sorts have things in common. Conservatives have things in common and liberals have things in common. I’m sure we could sit and draw up a supercomplicated Venn diagram to illustrate the ways in which specific qualities apply to more than one group. It is only natural various groups might wish to form advocacy groups to lobby for their individual needs/wants even if they happen to belong to other groups at the same time that have different, even conflicting needs/wants.
There are absolutely things that would overlap between the conservative circle and the women circle in that Venn diagram. There are goals both political and cultural that women have, all women, across the political spectrum, that require advocacy.
You know that old expression “the squeaky wheel gets the grease?” Well, it’s true. Nothing in this world gets accomplished by sitting quietly, politely, and awaiting notice. I have found in life that sitting in a ladylike fashion hoping silently for fair treatment generally ends with me being treated like a pack mule – only with fewer carrots. Thus, women across the political spectrum, by virtue of their shared needs, are in need of some type of organized group that says “hey, we’re going to be treated a certain way in the eyes of the law and the government and that’s not open for negotiation because we’re a force to be reckoned with.” And sometimes an advocacy group becomes a movement. Hence, feminism.
I believe the difference between conservatives and liberals boils down to one simple fundamental difference in mindset, and that this difference sheds light on the conservative/feminism question.
Conservatism is founded on the principle that humans possess a relatively unchanging fundamental nature and that the job of humanity is to discover the best way to live in that nature for maximum happiness, prosperity, and all the rest of that delightful shit for the benefit of everyone. Like dogs, cats, bunny rabbits, and Komodo dragons, humans universally are a particular set of behaviors and we have to take those behaviors into account when designing our laws and governments and workplaces and families and sexual relationships.
Obviously, conservatives have not always gotten it right. Historically, they’ve absolutely come up with ways to live and govern that didn’t bestow max happiness and prosperity equally upon everyone – but overall, that’s what modern day conservatives are going for (whether they really know that or not). It doesn’t matter if you’re a fundamentalist Christian and believe that God created Man in his image or if you’re an atheist and believe that that natural selection has shaped the human genome in a certain way, conservatives believe humans are a thing and that thing doesn’t change at least within our lifetimes, and so we gotsta take human nature into account when building a society and creating the rules that govern that society.
Now liberals, on the other hand, don’t believe this. They’re blank slaters – they think humans can be improved and should be improved and if only they can figure out how to do that, that humans will change faster than Lady Gaga changes her outfit. Liberals believe that if they have a college degree (which, they totally DO) and some fucking compliance then utopia could become a reality. They want to use the hand of government not as a carefully designed tool to moderate and mitigate human foibles, but as a carefully designed tool to improve upon human nature itself.
Liberals believe in alchemy, human alchemy, transforming a “person” (just a social construct anyway) into something else, something they believe will be better, eventually, maybe, after breaking a few eggs, and they believe that changing the fundamental structure of society as a whole is a means to that end. They believe that government exists to change society, culture, and human nature because there is no human nature and so culture and society are simply things that the government should be able to fiddle around with in order to accomplish this utopian dream.
If they only had the right kind of carrot and the right kind of stick, liberals believe they could turn that pack mule not only into a thoroughbred racehorse, but into a flying car. Conservatives believe that mules will always be mules and so when constructing a flying car one needs to take the actual shape and size of the mule into account when designing it even when it makes the car look a little clunkier and less aesthetically pleasing for those who care about such things. Maybe it gets a little worse gas mileage. Maybe it’s slightly less efficient. Maybe it wasn’t designed by Elon Musk and doesn’t have the “cool” factor liberals seem to prize so highly. It’s still better than building a flying car to fit a Komodo dragon when a mule is gonna flying the damn thing.
I happen to fall into the conservative category and I believe that humans are a certain way and nothing you can do will ever ever ever change that (well, maybe by waiting a million years or so). I want a culture and government and laws based in the reality of human behavior instead of a fantasy about what human beings “should” be. So I find liberal efforts to change humanity not just wrong but actually rather evil, since a lot of that changing seems to take place at the end of a gun. I don’t mean to say liberals, the individuals, are evil, but their idea of using the law and the culture as a brickbat to actually, legitimately try to change human nature – a nature I believe to be set in stone by hundreds of thousands of years of evolution and/or God – I find that to be an evil concept.
Because you can put a lion into a zoo but you aren’t ever going to make it into anything but a lion. It’s not going to turn into a porpoise because you put it in an aquarium. It’s just going to drown. It’s not going to turn into a guinea pig because you feed it celery. It’s just going to starve. Lions need a certain kind of environment just like humans need a certain kind of environment and it’s incumbent upon those who are running the zoo to figure out what environment is best for lions to live in, and provide it to them so they can live the best and happiest lion life they can lead.
The female lions in the zoo have certain innate needs; some are the same as the male lions, but not all of them are, and in fact the female lions and their cubs (because can we be real here? Children fall into the female sphere, and only a liberal would pretend otherwise) may even need extra protection from the male lions.
This seems relatively simple until you realize that the lions are actually running the zoo and so you’re putting one lion in charge of the other lion and so you have to take that into account when designing your zoo. Lion nature being what it is, if you don’t build some sort of safeguard into the system, you’re going to end up with the lion zookeeper keeping all the best meat for themself while feeding the other lions celery. We certainly don’t want the lion zookeeper thinking “well why CAN’T lions be porpoises?” and launching into a grand campaign to acclimate lions gradually to watery environments (starting first with the lion zookeepers’ political enemies). And the lion zookeeper can’t expect male lions to act any differently than male lions act, ruling over the pride with threat of violence towards the lionesses and their cubs, doing little work and taking all the benefits despite that, and constantly fighting with the other male lions. But you can’t blame or punish the male lions for that, because they’re male lions, it is in their nature, and the lionesses kind of like them that way anyway. You just have to acknowledge that their nature is real, it is not their fault and nor is it going to be easy for them to overcome it, and take all of that into consideration, that’s all.
When designing our lion habitat, a balance must be struck between respecting the lion’s (both male and female lions, since their needs and natures do not identically mesh) inherent nature as a bloodthirsty, selfish killing machine while at the same time limiting harm to other lions and respecting their inherent natures too. Because the whole point of our zoo is to allow the most lions – male, female, weak, strong, old, young – to thrive at their most happiest lion level. It can’t be a habitat where the lion zookeepers make impossible promises that they cannot keep in which all lions will have perfect lives because utopia isn’t an option and utopia generally ends up looking like whatever suits the bosses best. https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/peoples-commune-canteens-china?utm_medium=atlas-page&utm_source=facebook.com But it could be a habitat where lions can be lions and do lion things with as much freedom as it’s possible for them have while still not indulging that lion nature to the furthest degree and ending up in a terrible world where everyone is killing each other all the time.
For me, that’s what the small government conservativism I subscribe to is all about. My right to swing my fist (or paw) ends before it hits the other guy’s face (or muzzle). And as women, sometimes we need to team up to prevent any flying fists, both literal and figurative, from heading our way. And for me, that’s what feminism is all about. Since we’re littler and have historically had less money and power, and maybe, just maybe because there are some innate human quirks that make people (both men and women) fall into gender-based patterns that aren’t best for maximizing women’s happiness and potential, we gals need to stick together to advocate for ourselves both legally and in the culture as a whole. (fun fact – you do not always need to use the force of law to advocate for yourself!)
You can be both a conservative and a feminist. For reals. You can both believe that humans have a fundamental set nature that needs to be respected and protected and allowed for, while still acknowledging that male human needs and female human needs do not identically mesh and sometimes female human needs ought to be advocated for and male urges need to be mitigated. It is ridiculous to say that just because I’m a conservative, that I’m somehow not still a woman, that I don’t want and deserve the right to vote and to own property and to not get raped by a stranger for wearing a miniskirt or beaten up by my husband and to be able to protect my children from those who would do them harm (even if that IS my husband).
Just because I don’t agree with some (ok, most) feminists on the social engineering stuff, just because I don’t agree that lions can be turned into porpoises if only you spray them gently with sprinklers while shaming them viciously on Lionfacebook whenever they move to a dry corner, that doesn’t mean that I favor nature, red in tooth and claw, where women and children are property and men get to make all the decisions in society because they have more muscles. Because not only would that world suck (even for the men!) the fact is, the lions are running the zoo here. Great caution must be taken to ensure that the lion zookeepers aren’t using their power for their own benefit at the expense of others. The female lions have got to have input into the way the zoo is run so they can advocate for themselves and their children. Otherwise we end up with a system where the people making decisions are the strong and powerful people because humans have a nature and that’s one of the pitfalls of human nature – the strong and powerful will gravitate to positions of leadership and absolute power corrupts absolutely. But at the same time this doesn’t mean that the female lionesses are always right and it certainly doesn’t mean they are incorruptible, either. Strong and powerful people can sometimes look a lot more like Diane Feinstein and Nancy Pelosi than Lou Ferrigno and Larry the Cable Guy, believe it or not.
Now, a lot of people have realized this truth along the way, that you an be a feminist and a conservative and tried to come up with fancy new terms for it like “womanism” or “femaleism” and all I can say to that is UGH. Look, the English language is full of words that have more than one meaning like “salad” or “set” or “crane” and our clever human brains are capable of using one word to mean different things all of which have nuance to them depending on the context. “Feminism” is a fine word and will suffice. But we as conservative feminists do need to advocate for a subset of feminism where we can exist and advocate for women’s rights and children’s rights. We need to exist as feminists without everyone assuming that just because we believe women and children (perhaps maybe even including children who are unborn) should have rights that exceed that of pack mules, just because we want to be respected by the culture and by the law as fully actualized individuals, this doesn’t mean that we therefore buy into every cockamamie idea that underlies the liberal philosophy. They’re two totally different things and much of what liberals claim feminism is, is actually, actively BAD for women!
The feminism circle in our Venn Diagram DOES NOT exist solely within the liberal circle. Feminism is not Lesotho. And really, isn’t it pretty damn sexist to assume that feminism can only exist under the protective umbrella of liberalism? That women can’t think for themselves and have viewpoints that are different from this other social movement? That women might prefer freedom and not having Mommy Government telling us what to do with our bodies in every arena but sex and abortion (am I the only one who doesn’t get that, like, at all? “Your body, your choice” with abortion, but you damn well better not drink a 32 ounce soda or smoke cigarettes because that is BAD for you and we all need to live to be 108 years old because human life is so totally precious and everything).
Liberals do NOT have the answers. In fact, I think they have precisely NONE of the answers. Maybe they did at one time but not any more because the things they used to believe in, like freedom and tolerance and having a sense of humor and stickin’ it to the Man, they seem to have forgotten about now that they have become the Man themselves. (and if you self-ID as a feminist and a liberal because of things that happened in the 60’s and 70’s and 80’s, you may want to go take a closer look at what the hardcore liberals are really saying nowadays because it may not be what you thought it was).
Social engineering and victim mentality and political correctness and Nannystatism are creating a society and a culture that I HATE. Honestly, I think all of us hate it, it’s that some people are so committed to liberalism as a religion that they have lost the ability to see clearly the cause and effect here. Without hyperbole I can say that cultural norms and valuable legal standards that protect not only men but women and women’s children (shockingly, some women’s children ARE men! AAAA they’re already inside the house!!) are being destroyed left and right…or should I say, left and left, since the left is the driving force behind it.
Don’t celebrate, feminist friends. When things go wrong, when the ties that bind us disintegrate, it is the most vulnerable who pay the highest price. Women will foot the bill, they always do. Our civil rights will evaporate before anyone else’s and they’ll take the longest to come back again.
It is a critical PART of my feminism to stand against liberalism because it is better for women. Women will be safer and better off in a small-government conservative world than in a liberal one. Conservatism isn’t perfect; historically conservatives have absolutely gotten things wrong. Conservatives must do better in the future at protecting EVERYONE’s rights, not only the strong and powerful. But we can’t do that if liberals continue taking a battle axe to legal protections, civil liberties, and cultural norms that exist for the benefit and protection of all people – women, minorities, LGBTQ, children – out of a misguided attempt to turn lions into pussycats.
It’s not going to work, it can never work, because humans are a thing and that thing is not going to change for a very, very long time. We have to make laws for the world as it is, not a world we can imagine in our minds. So not only is it possible to be a feminist and a conservative, it’s a necessity.