It comes as somewhat of a surprise that fashion magazine Elle, which is known to feature fun, light pieces such as “Alexander Wang’s New Nail Polish” and “Khloe [Kardashian's] Killer Calves (And Thighs!),” would publish a four-page spread on conservative women and politics.
What’s not shocking, however, is that Elle would fall into the mainstream media trap and arbitrarily categorize a group of right-leaning young women as “Baby Palins.”
This month, the mag printed a story called “The Best and the Rightest,” which includes interviews from accomplished conservative females such as “Girls Just Wanna Have Guns” creator Regis Giles, Fox commentator S.E. Cupp, conservative radio host Dana Loesch, Independent Women’s Forum executive director Carrie Lukas and Network of enlightened Women (NeW) founder Karin Agness.
The article, which dubs the aforementioned women “Baby Palins,” says the interviewed females “share almost every goal of feminism” and “want to be—and in many cases, already believe themselves to be —’empowered’: educationally, financially, sexually. But they resist any effort to put advancing their fellow women front and center.”
Nina Burleigh, the article’s author, may have been guilty of this as well, having famously said in 1998 she’d happily give then-President Bill Clinton “[oral sex] just to thank him for keeping abortion legal.”
Ten days after “The Best and the Rightest” hit the Internet, interviewee Agness penned a National Review Online column challenging the “Baby Palins” attribution, which of course refers to gun totin’ former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. The final sentence of the Elle piece even includes the words, “you can betcha,” alluding to Palin’s frequently criticized catchphrase.
“While an interesting read, this article turns out to be less a commentary on conservative women and more an example of how conservative women are viewed by women on the left. To them, we are all ‘Baby Palins,’” Agness writes, adding that many of the interviewed women immersed themselves into politics long before Palin’s name appeared on the 2008 Republican ticket. A University of Virginia law graduate, Agness herself started NeW four years before Palin made national news headlines.
Agness goes on to say that many choose to lump all young conservative females into the “Baby Palin” category instead of taking some time to explore each woman’s ideals. The Washington, D.C. attorney also notes that Palin’s image has been heavily tarnished by news outlets, so the association diminishes young Republican women.
“Rather than try to understand how some women could be conservative and the arguments we have against feminism, it is often much easier to explain us all away as ‘Baby Palins’ following in Palin’s footsteps,” writes Agness. “With the ‘Baby Palin’ label comes the Palin brand. The Palin brand has been so damaged by the media that the ‘Baby Palin’ label serves the purpose of quickly stereotyping and delegitimizing [sic] us at the same time. Would a typical journalist call someone a ‘Palin’ as a compliment? Ultimately, categorizing us as ‘Baby Palins’ is a way to dismiss us.”
Lukas, whom the magazine defines as a “Virginia mother of three and former Republican congressional staffer … who quit her job to be with her kids,” was “horrified” by her portrayal in the piece.
“I was totally shocked and pretty horrified by the way I was characterized by this Elle piece,” Lukas told The Daily Caller, adding that she did not in fact stop working when she had children. (RELATED: The 2010 Forbes World’s Most Powerful Women list: Empowering or embarrassing?)
Lukas, who wrote the book “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Women, Sex and Feminism,” says she’s “never been somebody who has been a huge cheerleader for Palin.”