If abortion is too much of a hot-button issue, how about paid family leave, which would guarantee a paycheck to people who take limited time off from work to care for newborns and others family members in need. Both Shulevitz and Traister strongly support it — as have I, for many years. But what are we to make of a libertarian woman who writes influential essays against paid family leave because she believes it will produce far more harm than good for working men and women by driving companies out of business and leading to a net loss in jobs?
Is this woman an enemy of feminism? Or an exemplar of feminism in action?
You get the idea. If feminism is about empowering women to participate in American civic and social life without regard to the ends they pursue with that power and freedom, then of course these women are feminists. The opposite of being a feminist in this sense isn’t to be an anti-abortion libertarian; it is to be powerless.
But many self-described feminists today define feminism in a way that is far more ideological and includes a range of specific policy proposals. To be a feminist in this sense, you must support abortion rights through all three trimesters, favor paid family leave, back government subsidized child care, and so forth.
Which means that to be considered a feminist, you must be a liberal Democrat.