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Carly Fiorina and the Feminist Conundrum

Carly Fiorina and the Feminist Conundrum

Love her, hate her? Feminists aren’t entirely sure what to make of Fiorina.

Two women are running for the highest office in the land and only one has the support of liberal feminists. Despite her overuse of the gender card, Hillary’s devotion to the feminist cause is largely unquestioned by her following.

The conundrum is an interesting one to observe. How do feminists justify supporting one woman over another in an arena historically delegated to men?

Hillary believes she’s owed the White House, has served her time, and now the public ought repay her with the Presidency. She is pro-abortion, and has accomplished little outside of being elected to office or appointed to a cabinet position. Her resume is full of impressive titles but has a deficit of accomplishment. Clinton seldom, if ever, stands toe to toe with her opponents much less holds her own.

The opposite is true of Fiorina. She’s tough, accomplished, and has said repeatedly she hopes to earn voter support and ultimately, the White House. She doesn’t see being a woman as a meritorious occurrence, nor a reason to garner votes. Preaching women are not “an interest group” in need of puffy pandering, Fiorina has even gone so far as to denounce modern feminism as a version that is “no longer working.”

And yet, liberal feminists aren’t quite sure what to make of her.

The New York Times explored the perplexing phenomena Monday:

When the novelist Jennifer Weiner watched the second Republican presidential debate with her two daughters on Sept. 16, she felt a sense of pride at seeing the lone woman on stage, Carly Fiorina, hold her own against Donald J. Trump.

Then Mrs. Fiorina denounced abortion and Planned Parenthood in a graphic monologue that thrilled many conservative Republican voters but left Ms. Weiner appalled.

“It’s so weird — she looks like one of us, but she’s not,” said Ms. Weiner, who in addition to being a best-selling author is an influential feminist with a large social-media following. “You’re on the bus with her until she starts talking about Planned Parenthood.”

Liberal feminists still maintain that abortion is about the choice of the mother, not the life of the murdered child.

As Mrs. Fiorina’s presidential campaign gains traction — and as the focus on her statements about Planned Parenthood intensifies — liberal women across the web are expressing conflicted feelings about her candidacy. At times, there is gratification at watching a woman forcefully take on Mr. Trump; at other times, horror at Mrs. Fiorina’s conservative policy positions, which these women see as anathema to the feminist cause.

“Can you love a campaign but hate a candidate’s policies?” read the subtitle of the writer Robin Marty’s Sept. 18 essay on titled “Carly Fiorina Is the Candidate I Wanted Hillary Clinton to Be.”

Mrs. Fiorina has encouraged feminists to take her seriously.

After Mr. Trump’s remarks about her looks — “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that?” he told Rolling Stone magazine — her “super PAC,” Carly for America, released a video advertisement called “Faces,” in which she turned the insult to her advantage.

…“This is the face of a 61-year-old woman,” she says later in the ad, as the audience whoops and whistles its approval. “I am proud of every year and every wrinkle.”

Such shows of defiance and forcefulness by Mrs. Fiorina have impressed many liberal women.

Tracy Clark-Flory, a senior staff writer for who has written about sex and relationships for Salon and other outlets, said Mrs. Fiorina’s debate turn was a powerful moment that created some dissonance given her stands on the issues.

“I think even as a lot of feminists cheered her on during that performance, we were loathing her actual policies,” she said. “There’s an excitement and a horror that those two can kind of coexist.”

When Sarah Palin ran as the Vice Presidential Candidate on McCain’s ticket in 2008, she roused plenty of hate, but little in the way of serious feminist curiosity. Fiorina has managed to capture the attention of those struggling to to apply their ideology to Mrs. Clinton with Carly in the room.

Left-leaning feminists have not been so conflicted by other Republican candidates for national office in recent years. Both Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee in 2008, and Michele Bachmann, a congresswoman who ran for the Republican nomination in 2012, went out of their way to attack traditional feminism.

Mrs. Fiorina has spoken critically of traditional feminism, too: In June, when she still barely registered in national presidential polls, she declared in a speech that the liberal “version of feminism isn’t working” and said her definition of “a feminist is a woman who lives the life she chooses.”

That differs from the definition that Mrs. Clinton gave in an interview with the actress and writer Lena Dunham, the creator and star of the HBO series “Girls,” for a website Ms. Dunham is starting. When Ms. Dunham asked Mrs. Clinton if she considered herself a feminist, she replied, “Yes, absolutely,” and expressed puzzlement at women who did not. “A feminist is by definition someone who believes in equal rights,” she said.

Still, Mrs. Fiorina’s background as a former chief executive at Hewlett-Packard and her role in calling out Mr. Trump, whose remarks have offended women in both parties, have captured the attention of many writers, activists and other influential figures in the feminist movement, as reflected on social media and in news outlets targeted at young women. It was an irony first pointed out by the conservative blogger Michelle Malkin.

“Carly Fiorina is an ice-cold shade queen debate princess and I’m in love with and terrified of her,” Erin Gloria Ryan, managing editor of the feminist blog Jezebel, wrote on Twitter on Sept. 16.

Follow Kemberlee on Twitter @kemberleekaye


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What is the puzzle? Media will give her the McCain treatment. She’ll be great until Trump is gone, and then her media friends will turn on her, killing her campaign.

    Ragspierre in reply to rotten. | September 28, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    So, provide links to “her media friends” are.

    Estragon in reply to rotten. | September 28, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    The latest feminism sweeping the nation is “Four Day Feminism.” With it, you get to abandon all that patriarchal oppression like making sense and coherent thought that have been used to keep wymyn down all these centuries. Instead, you get to unleash your inner psychopath:

      MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Estragon. | September 28, 2015 at 6:39 pm

      I thought it was spelled womyn. Or something like that. Only one y,

      It’s amazing how some women in tech react. There was this woman who worked for Github, They apparently have a waiting room that looks like the oval office. They even had a rug which looked like the great seal with the words “The Great Meritocracy of Github” . A worker called Julie Ann Horvath complained that “meritocracy” was sexist. I don’t know why.

      Eventually what happened is Julie quit. Some people posted stuff on their private forums saying things like “great the b**** is gone”.
      So she came up this fclaim that one of the owners wife kept harrasing her, by questioning whether she would say negative things when she quit. Doh!.

      Anyway with people like her or Ahmed the clock maker, I like to check what they have been up to recently. The last I checked she was promoting a movement on twitter that would pay black women for posting on twitter and letting people know what it was like being a black woman in twitter. Of course she would contribute, but she didn’t have a job for the last five months. Figures.

I’ll say one thing.

Carly never fails to amaze me with her powers of communication.

On Meet the Press yesterday, Chuck Todd grilled her relentlessly and Carly didn’t bat an eye nor miss a beat in her fluently articulate, 100 mph answers.

How many times have I watched in agony as Republicans have stumbled over answers to questions you could bet your life on were coming from the media? And not having an arsenal of stock answers to tweek to fire back at out-of-the-blue gotcha questions?

At least in the communications department, Carly is the absolute master. Nothing reveals the media flacks and hacks for what they are like a GOP candidate who is lightning fast on her feet. She can inspire and persuade with this gift.

NC Mountain Girl | September 28, 2015 at 1:02 pm

The difference between the way Fiorina is being treated and the way Palin was treated is purely a matter of social class. Most of those who self identify as feminists are daughters of privilege. They sneered at Palin’s parents, who were of modest means and that she attended several undistinguished state colleges before earning a degree

Fiorina’s father was a law professor at the University of Texas, the Dean of Duke Law School, a Deputy US Attorney General and finally a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Between all the job related moves and sabbatical years, Fiorina attended a noted private English girl’s school for a while, several different high schools, including one in Ghana, then received a BA from Standford. Her MBA was from the University of Maryland and she later was a fellow at the Sloan School of Management at MIT. On paper, she is one of them.

What’s interesting is how each woman is being treated on the issue of abortion. That Palin chose to carry to term a child with Down’s Syndrome horrified the self identifying feminists. So did how she she didn’t haul her pregnant teenage daughter off to have an abortion. On the other hand, some of the same crowd now whine that Fiorina, who wanted to have children and couldn’t, has no right to opine about abortion.

Feminists aren’t entirely sure what to make of Fiorina

Apparently, when you spell your name Kemberlee you get to indulge in terminal naivete. Sad really, because we all know what Feminists are going to do when and if Carly becomes seriously close.

Feminists shouldn’t exist in today’s society. The modern “feminists” don’t want equality. They want to be better than men and in most cases anti-men. As such, they have become a progressive/liberal movement. This is no different than the NAACP. When black members of the GOP got elected to great positions, the NAACP scoffed and ridiculed them. The NAACP isn’t about equality either, they want to be better than white, and are mostly anti-white.

The thing these linked articles fail to recognize is that it doesn’t matter what Carly does for liberals. If they like her, it doesn’t matter. They are so anti-conservative, anti-GOP, that they’ll never vote for Carly.

Hillary, on the other hand, is different. She is a Democrat. As such, because she is a woman, she is “guaranteed” the women vote due to her feminism…. I guess.

MouseTheLuckyDog | September 28, 2015 at 1:54 pm

The opposite is true of Fiorina. She’s tough, accomplished,
Accomplished at what? Driving companies into the ground?

Face it ladies:
Carly is the business world’s version of Hillary.

When confronted with her failure what does she do? Like Feminists she blames sexism.

MouseTheLuckyDog | September 28, 2015 at 1:56 pm

And still nobody answers the question:
How could Carly deal with Germany after Deutsche Bank?
In fact, when I think about it, it is exactly the kind of thing Hillary would do, if she were a business woman.

We sure don’t want to confuse the puerile feminists, now do we? And we already know that HRC is NOT going to be ignored!

    Henry Hawkins in reply to jennifer a johnson. | September 28, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    The feminists, of course, will proceed on ideological lines and eventually savage Fiorina or any other female Republican or conservative. This is their fatal internal conflict – they claim to proceed on gender issues, but always place the leftist agenda ahead of gender issues whenever they conflict. Their addressment of people like Fiorina, Thatcher, Palin, and other strong Republican or conservative women best exposes this internal disconnect. It is a very fundamental, basal hypocrisy.

First she destroyed their premise by clearly in strong language never used by politicians (butchering babies)and then stating her true moral and ethical position, supporting health care. Most republicans cede the issue by adopting the lefts euphemisms and misleading language. Abortion technically is birth control but all birth control is not equal. Using a condom is not the same as butchering a baby.

Just look at that face. Yikes!

“It’s so weird — she looks like one of us, but she’s not,” said Ms. Weiner, who in addition to being a best-selling author is an influential feminist with a large social-media following. “You’re on the bus with her until she starts talking about Planned Parenthood.”>/b>

Well, at least they’re admitting they’re not speaking for all women. I refuse to be called a feminist anymore, not because I’m not one, but because I don’t want to be associated with the death and destruction of human life. Other than that, I’m a pretty strong woman who holds her own and has made her own way in the world.

Carly v. Hillary.

Well, they are pretty similar, at least in ways one might think would be important to feminists.

They both married their way upwards.

Not so many men can do that. But it’s been the way things have been done at least since the Byzantine Empire. Strong women? Perhaps. Independent? Not in any way feminists should recognize.

    NC Mountain Girl in reply to tom swift. | September 29, 2015 at 9:22 am

    Please explain how Hillary married upward? She married a man she had met at law school early in each of their careers. Hillary was from a stable, intact family that lived in a respectable suburb, whose principle breadwinner owned his own business. On the other hand, Bill’s birth father is a question mark. The step father who gave him his last name was an alcoholic loser. His ditz mother, who moved to Hot Springs, perhaps the most corrupt and sleazy tourist town in the South, had remarried and divorced several times, never to reputable men. She earned her living as a nurse. If anything, Bill married far better than the trashy world his mother reared him in.