Carly Fiorina is rivaling Sen. Rand Paul in trying to be the most heterodox candidate in the Republican presidential field. And now, she may well be the first Republican feminist to run for president.
Fiorina, who is set to deliver a speech to the Competitive Enterprise Institute Thursday night, has staked out her place in the Republican primaries as someone who is not afraid to hit Hillary Clinton, the only other woman in the race, and hit her hard.
Now, Fiorina is burnishing her iconoclastic brand by implying that she considers herself a feminist—something prominent female Republicans have rarely ventured to do:
"Today, only 23 percent of women identify with the term feminist. Liberal ideas aren't the answer. Their version of feminism isn't working. It is time for a new definition," Fiorina's prepared remarks for Thursday night read. "A feminist is a woman who lives the life she chooses. We will have arrived when every woman can decide for herself how to best find and use her God-given gifts. A woman may choose to have five children and homeschool them. She may choose to become a CEO, or run for president."
Fiorina also will use the speech to deride so-called "ideological feminists" while promoting her own definition:
Feminism began as a rallying cry to empower women—to vote, to get an education, to enter the workplace. But over the years, feminism has devolved into a left-leaning political ideology where women are pitted against men and used as a political weapon to win elections.
Being empowered means having a voice. But ideological feminism shuts down conversation—on college campuses and in the media. If you are a man—or a woman—who doesn't believe the litanies of the left, then you are "waging a war on women" or you are a "threat to women's health" or you are variously described as "window dressing" —Joni Ernst—or offensive as a candidate—Carly Fiorina.
The progressive view of feminism is not about women. It is about ideology.
Rep. Michele Bachmann notably refused to refer to herself as a feminist, opting instead for "pro-woman and pro-man." In 2010, Sarah Palin told a crowd of anti-abortion activists that they represented an "emerging, conservative, feminist identity"—implying that Palin considers herself a member of their ranks.