Conservative Women in ELLE Fashion Magazine

Katie Pavlich

8/16/2011 8:18:00 AM - Katie Pavlich

When I saw this, I had to look twice. An overall fair story, although there are a few digs at conservatives in the article, that reflects positively on conservative women in a fashion magazine? No way! But, turns out it is true.

The Best and the Righest, written by Nina Burleigh, shines light on the fact that women can be beautiful, smart, gun lovers, meat eaters, girly, strong and conservative all at the same time. The article on ELLE.com and in ELLE fashion magazine, features conservative ladies like S.E. Cupp, Big Government's Dana Loesch, Network of Enlightened Women Founder Karin Agness, Alyssa Cordova of the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute, Young America's Foundation Vice President Kate Obenshain, Regis Giles, founder of Girls Just Wanna Have Guns and the daughter of Townhall columnist Doug Giles  and more women making positive strides within the conservative movement.

A new generation of conservative women is stepping forward to dis feminists and cheer low taxes, guns, and motherhood. Nina Burleigh reports on how these “Baby Palins” are going to reshape the 2012 presidential election.

Regis Giles glides from chair to podium with the lithe, twitchy ease of a big cat, hazel-eyed and trailing a honey-colored mane, all 20 tawny years of her packed into a skintight electric blue stretch-satin cocktail dress. She doesn’t look like this when she’s spearing wild boar on the shores of Florida’s Lake Okeechobee or taking aim with her favorite CZ 550 rifle, but today Giles is addressing America’s largest annual conservative convention, in Washington, DC, so she’s sexed it up a bit.

Besides being a hunter, she’s an entrepreneur. From a website called Girls Just Wanna Have Guns, she peddles T-shirts, buttons, and coffee mugs, but no actual guns—yet. That’s only because she must wait until she turns 21 to get a federal license to sell firearms. Meanwhile, she’s bagged her own reality hunting show, Primal Urge, slated to air on cable’s Pursuit Channel (devoted to all things hunt) in 2012.

Giles keeps her speech short, sweet, and to the point. “I’m sick and tired of seeing defenseless girls being abducted in broad daylight,” she says in an unstudied nasal drawl. “My company stands for those girls who’ve decided to arm themselves with a gun that will pump lead into an attacker at 1,200 feet per second. I wanna see more headlines stating ‘Girl kills attacker with gun’ than ‘Girl found dead after being raped and choked to death.’” The audience packed into the Marriott’s Grand Ballroom erupts in cheers, stomps, and whistles. She’s brought the house down.

Behold the new face of conservative womanhood. Young ­women like the Gileses are the unintended, some might say ungrateful, daughters of feminism—and their numbers, by some measures, are growing. The sisters are just two of thousands of young women in cocktail dresses who professed their love for guns, low taxes, and red meat at the Conservative Political Action Conference 2011, an annual gathering of 10,000 political activists, more than half of whom are college-age, nearly all of whom are white.

The young women I interviewed for this article share almost every goal of feminism. They 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. That means opposing everything from gender-based affirmative action, such as government-mandated quotas for female athletes under Title IX, to equal-pay-for-equal-work laws. So on the one hand they may lament that there are only a handful of female CEOs at Fortune 500 companies and only 17 female U.S. Senators—“It does matter,” Sewell says. “A woman’s perspective is different from a man’s.” But on the other hand, they’re not going to take to the ramparts to try to increase the numbers.

What really gets these women riled up—more than taxes and “big” government—is the belief that the left demeans stay-at-home motherhood. “The point of feminism was to give women a choice,” Cupp says. “If women choose to work, fine; if they choose to stay home, fine. Seventies feminism judged, took away one of those choices.” I ask Cupp, a quintessential Manhattan working girl who says the day she was offered her newspaper column was the greatest of her life, whether she could envision full-time mothering. “I’d hope so!” she says. “It’s been my plan to work hard and get to a point where I can stop and have a family. Time works against you. I’m not 25 anymore.” That said, Cupp says she hasn’t really decided whether she wants to have children.

And my favorite line in the entire article, which I encourage you to read here:

The path to conservative activism begins in college for many women—and sometimes, nothing can solidify your views more than being vilified for them.

Conservative students, especially conservative women, come out of college with an overall better rounded education than their liberal classmates. Conservatives are challenged on a daily basis and are constantly having to re-evaluate and defend their positions while liberal ideas are simply embraced. It's a challenge that develops conservatives into thinkers who have to craft valid arguments to defend their beliefs, skills liberal students don't learn in college because they are never challenged with the diversity of ideas by their liberal professors.

The article means one thing: conservative women rock and people, even in the fashion industry, are starting to pay attention to the developing market of the "best and the rightest." Why does this particular article matter? Fashion magazines are notorious for berating conservative women while upholding women on the other side of the aisle. We're used to editors fawning over Michelle Obama's latest J. Crew dress, or Hillary Clinton's "strong" stance on issues, so this article is extremely refreshing. I applaud the ELLE editors and Ms. Burleigh for not only being open to the idea of conservative women, but for having the courage to run the story.