But there are also women on the ballot, such as Senate candidates Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), who have voting records and platforms that seek to undermine the feminist agenda — including Blackburn’s opposition to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. While their victories would move us closer to a kind of gender equity, their election would actually be a loss for feminism.
Why? Because feminists have long cared more about policy positions than the mere presence of women in the political arena. This outlook has provoked charges of hypocrisy. It has also often erased the barrier-breaking political accomplishments of anti-feminist women such as Ellen McCormack — the first female presidential contender to qualify for federal matching funds and Secret Service protection in 1976. Few remember who McCormack was, in large part because the vibrant feminist movements of her time did little to nothing to advertise these historic “firsts.” And with good reason.
McCormack, who described herself as a homemaker from Long Island, was a founder of the New York State Right to Life Party, the most robust antiabortion political party in the country at that time. She entered the Democratic primary in 1976 with an almost single-issue antiabortion platform — hoping to run a national campaign against legal abortion, just three years after the Supreme Court had legalized it at the federal level.