Bringing 'Sexy' Back to the Conservative Movement

The official release of the 2010 Great American Conservative Women calendar is today. Now that it is out, the praise it deserves will – again – likely be drowned out by the mainstream media buzz that has surrounded it for years.  Some people just can’t stand the idea that conservative women are more attractive than, say, Hillary or Nancy Pelosi.

Still others think it’s sexist. They would, wouldn’t they?

S. E. Cupp, a columnist and Miss December for 2010, which will be her first year on the calendar, said the calendar makes an easy target. “The left is petty,” she said. “They go for the cheap and easy…whether that’s attacking Sarah Palin for spending money on a wardrobe, or calling Obama’s opposition racist, or attacking a calendar of conservative women.”

Attacks against the calendar often get personal, in keeping with a pattern of going after the woman behind the policy, and focus on looks. Last year’s theme “Pretty in Mink” drew plenty of raised eyebrows and vicious comments, but this year the women are dressed mostly in plain, white button-downs. Many of the women left their collars loose.

“I don’t know what the conservative button-count is,” said Cupp, laughing off the link between conservative values and conservative attire. “I certainly have my own button-count and my own sartorial rules. I think more about what my mother would say than what Goldwater would say, or what Russell Kirk would say.”

The theme for 2010 is Vintage American Patriotism, according to Alyssa Cordova, lecture director for the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute, which publishes the calendar. Each page features a sepia-toned head-shot of a woman known for her work within the conservative movement, a quote and image of patriotic memorabilia at the bottom, and a checkered red and white border. “Modern feminists often portray a bias against femininity, and this calendar is a way to show off not only the tremendous accomplishments of our movement’s top women leaders, but their beauty as well,” Cordova said.

This year, former Miss California Carrie Prejean is the Luce Institute’s Miss October. Of course, Prejean is only the new wave in conservative beauty. Not long ago, Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin swept the scene with their strong, conservative voices and broad, youthful appeal, and the range of conservative ladies included in the calendar captures multiple generations. Other women who appear are former U.S. Treasurer Bay Buchanan, author and activist Star Parker, former chairman of the Virginia GOP Kate Obenshain, Regnery Publishing president Marji Ross, Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly, pollster Kellyanne Conway, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Institute namesake Clare Boothe Luce. The calendar is $25, or free to students, and available at the Institute’s website at

“It’s so important for young women on college campuses to feel comfortable standing up for their conservative ideas,” Prejean said in a statement released by the Institute. “Conservative women need to be vocal in the public, and get involved in the media.”

Cupp demurred from the idea of being a role model. “Someone like Michele Bachman, I think she’s absolutely a role model,” she said, also pointing to Sarah Palin. “I’m a writer, I’m a critic; I’m not out there trying to be a role model.”

Palin helped “put that ‘female conservative’ image on the modern map,” Cupp said. “But she certainly wasn’t the first. I think folks of my generation, 20s and 30s, don’t tend to conflate the two. You can be a woman, you can be a conservative. The fact that you’re a female conservative doesn’t really resonate with someone like me. I happen to be a woman and I came upon my conservatism deliberately. I don’t really know that one informs the other.

“There’s still that idea in the liberal media that that’s an oxymoron,” she added. “But in reality, it’s always been coincidental. More than half the country is women; more than half the country is conservative. Is it really all that shocking that you’re going to find female conservatives? No.”

The calendar is meant to celebrate active, conservative women, not necessarily make them pin-up girls. “There’s nothing counter-intuitive about being a woman and conservative,” Cupp said. “Conservative ideals are good for everyone. Conservative ideals are better for women, and minorities and old white men, too.”

That is something, perhaps, that conservatives understand and liberals have forgotten in their mad race to be “progressive”: values, like ladies, only grow more admirable with time.


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