Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and currently the only woman in the crowded field of GOP presidential contenders, has never held public office. She is considered a long-shot candidate in the election, but the one issue she has dared to talk about that none of her male competitors have is feminism. Carly Fiorina wants Republicans to reclaim the term "feminist," and in a speech on Thursday, laid out her vision.
At an event in D.C., Fiorina painted feminism as a political tool that the Democrats have claimed for themselves and outlined her own definition of a feminist. She said:
Feminism began as a rallying cry to empower women. 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 ... Liberal ideas aren't the answer. Their version of feminism isn't working. It is time for a new definition.
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.
As the sole woman vying to become the Republican presidential nominee, Fiorina has been outspoken on her experiences as the target of sexism in the corporate world.
Fiorina called for making birth control available over the counter, supporting female-owned businesses and overhauling safety net programs so that women can return to work without losing benefits.
Her Thursday speech set her apart from her male competitors, to be sure, but her party hardly reflects the same values. For one, the loudest and most active opponents of women's reproductive rights are Republicans. And despite her claims to champion women's rights, Fiorina herself strongly opposes abortion. She is also in line with her party in their opposition to the Paycheck Fairness Act — which would make it easier for women to find out and challenge pay discrimination — and does not support calls for better family leave policies, yet offers no alternative solution.
Her intention to reclaim "feminist" is bold, but if that is her plan to win the female vote, perhaps Fiorina should first look to her and her party's policies on women before going in on the attack.
[Cover image via Scott Olson/Getty Images News]