Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Conservative Feminism: Can It Exist Within the GOP?

Trump, Romney, Bush, Cruz and Rubio. What do these names have in common? They are the names of the most popular and influential Republicans, who happen to be all male. The gender ratio in the Republican party leans towards males having that ideology. Males tend to stay conservative throughout their life, compared to women who tend to change partisans as they grow older. These statistics and stereotypes continue on the Democratic side. Women are more likely to be liberal and adopt feminist views, associated with their political ideologies. 
However as you look deeper into the Republican party, there is a small demographic of women who are wanting to reform conservative policy and make it “women friendly.” With this female group of limited numbers, can they make a difference in a male dominated political party?Female Republicans can have an impact on policies that affect women and families, and ultimately, be aware of gender consciousness in state and national politics. 
There has been little research done on conservative women within the past twenty years. This is due in part to their small numbers and that conservative women tend to stay out of the public eye because of social pressures and principles. Tammy R. Vigil in her book explains these allegations and how having the “American housewife” image impacts their husbands’ political career. 
The United States and, especially its political environment, holds onto the traditional illustration of a wife and mother preparing dinner for her family and waiting for her husband to come home. This woman is thought of as submissive, quiet and incapable of understanding business and politics. With the large social change in the U.S., this view on women has slowly changed. 
However male members of the Republican party under mindedly promote these values and expectations among women. Conservative women are less likely to run for public office and receive financial support from conservative donors. Conservative women are still seen as “arm candy” for their presidential nominee husband. What gives?
Ronnee Schreiber’s research on conservative women and gender consciousness sheds some light on how Republican women can work to have more representation in the partisan group and how they can add a “women’s touch” on public policy. Feminism and other women rights movements have led to more opportunities for women since the 19thcentury and continue to propel forward. Republican women see this as an advantage for themselves as well. They see the early female leaders as the foundation layers for all women, regardless of party affiliation. 
Why Democratic women see Republican women as a threat, is because they believe conservative women try to challenge their claims about women’s interests. Usually this is not the case. Female members of the Republican party believe that women should be given equal education and career opportunities in comparison to men. They also believe that women should have an equal footing in politics and represent their constituents. There really is no challenge, just different approaches to handle the legislation. 
There is a small distinction between Democratic and Republican women. What separates this gender demographic is the issue of family and laws and policy pertaining to the home. We know this because of the issues of abortion and education, and their prominence on the political stage. Historically these issues were only discussed by males, whom had zero experiences with the decision of abortion and the implications on their own bodies. Nor did they directly interact with their children’s school teachers and volunteer with PTO groups. 
Conservative women who are for women’s rights, as it pertains and aligns with their political ideologies, can impact the GOP. The identity of a conservative feminist can exist and be a voice for Republican women, who feel that their opinions are overlooked by their male counterparts. Gender consciousness is in the Republican party. Yet females will have an equal footing with males in functioning together for the advancement of the Republican party.
With women representing half of the nation’s population, yes, there is the ability for women and men to begin working better together. Even so those with the same partisanship and those working across party lines. We see this in the current membership of Congress. We see this in city councils and business boards. We will continue to see it as we engage together to better America. 
Sheiyenne Baloo is a Political Science major and minoring in American Indian Studies. 

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