Lynn Sanders, a professor of politics at the University of Virginia, says there are plenty of reasons feminists can be happy about the Republican Party's nomination of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to become vice president. While it's tough to dispel notions that political parties have sexist components, she says, and Sarah Palin's Republican voter registration and anti-abortion stance may at first seem antithetical to feminism, one position in the culture wars does not invalidate her value to the cause of women everywhere.

Palin's presence on the Republican ticket gives feminists at least six good reasons to celebrate, she says.

1. Since there's never been a female Vice-President, any woman is a good woman when it comes to breaking that part of the 'glass ceiling.'

It makes sense that in positions where there have been few women (or none) it is harder for women who want to break in. So if we have a female President in 2012, women may have Sarah Palin to thank, regardless of whether Republicans win or not. Heck, it may be Sarah Palin in 2012. Geraldine Ferraro was a politically correct pick for Democrats in 1984, and a bold one, whereas Sarah Palin is instead the savior of her candindate in 2008.

You've come a long way, baby. No one understands the magnitude of the distinction better than Ferraro, who feels like media attacks on Palin are sexist (and who would know better?) - so feminists who are against Palin because of one cultural position are playing into the hands of the male heirarchy.

You don't have to be a feminist to be a good female role model, says Sanders, and having a female VP eliminates the stigma that the job requires 'maleness.'

2. Having both parties in a "who's less sexist" contest is a very good thing.

Last Wednesday night, to the cheers of Republican social conservatives (supposedly the enemy of feminists, in the past), Rudy Giuliani castigated Democrats for daring to ask whether Sarah Palin's family responsibilities are too heavy for a vice president. Not to be outdone, Thursday morning Joe Biden appeared on Good Morning America to denounce the Palin attacks as "over the top" and "sexist."

Complaints about the media's treatment of Hillary Clinton are no longer dismissed as feminist whining but are now Republican talking points.

Someone tell Gloria Steinem, who has never supported a woman that competed with a Democrat, who said Sarah Palin shares nothing but a chromosome with Hillary Clinton - here's guessing she also thinks Condoleeza Rice did nothing for women in politics either.

3. The new race to be anti-sexist will reduce sexism in politics.

Racial wedges in campaigns, like Rev. Jeremiah Wright's anti-white sermons, can expect immediate scrutiny and criticism. Sexism is not reacted to as quickly but political opponents and media critics may one day be as alert to sexist politics as they are to attempts by national campaigns to mobilize racial resentment among blacks or whites.

4. Palin is a gun-toting, hockey-playing mom who is also a popular governor, and that explodes gender stereotypes.

What more needs to be said? If you take out the abortion litmus test issue, what feminist can't like a mom who hunts, runs a whole state and contrasts herself and a bulldog only by their lipstick?

5. A non-traditional feminist like Palin undercuts mythologizing about the "women's vote" and oversimplifications about the "gender gap."

It's a standard argument in politics: if you vote as a bloc based on one issue, you eventually get taken for granted. Steinem's assault on Palin, solely because she is a Republican, is a perfect example of unsuccessful feminism mired in the past. If a Republican is an outstanding role model that causes women to not lockstep with the party that favors abortion and be an assumed vote, both parties will listen to the broad spectrum concerns of women voters, and recognize woman as a complex group with different interests. Competition for females vote is a good thing.

Feminists need to recognize that it's a big umbrella. Women who have to sign a paper agreeing to every position or register in only one party before they can be thought of as advancing the cause of women is 1970s thinking. No one thinks 'men' vote as a bloc on one issue.

6. Having a woman who really juggles work and family responsibilities will put family-friendly policies like paid leave and affordable health care at the front of politics.

This isn't just a feminist issue but it impacts women more than men today. If both parties are convinced that the votes of women are truly up for grabs, they will begin tailoring policies to secure that vote. Palin has a special needs child she chose to keep - that makes pro-choice people happy (unless they're in the segment that thinks only one choice counts) and will be a terrific advocate for the needs of other working mothers everywhere.

If feminists really want to take a big step, a Republican vote in 2008 would do it. Why? McCain almost cannot run again and Hillary Clinton certainly would if Barack Obama were to lose in 2008. That means the 2012 major-party tickets would most likely have Clinton on one side and Palin on the other.

Whether feminists like either of them or not, there's no denying that conquering the last frontier in politics, and the most important position in the world, would be true advancement for women of all political persuasions.