Archive for Saturday, November 21, 2009

Palin stirs feminist ambivalence

November 21, 2009


You have to hand it to Sarah Palin. I don’t mean you have to hand her the 2012 nomination. Nor do you have to hand her the $24.64 I overpaid for “Going Rogue.”

But let us give credit where credit card is due. Remember back in the 1990s when Hillary Clinton described herself as the Rorschach test for how people felt about the women’s movement? Palin has become the latest test for shifting common ground and fault lines between sisterhood and sibling rivalry.

It’s been like this since the Palintologists discovered her in Alaska and put her on the national ticket of the Grand Old (Boy) Party. She brought in-your-face words to conservatism: “To any critics who say a woman can’t think and work and carry a baby at the same time, I’d just like to escort that Neanderthal back to the cave.”

The GOP had been hibernating in that cave for decades. But the moose-killing former governor and mother of five made it politically incorrect for the “family values” crowd to trash working moms. She created a demilitarized zone in the culture wars. Republican women could juggle a BlackBerry and a breast pump. They too could do it all!

At the same time, her appearance on the national ticket, after Clinton’s defeat, challenged the Hillarylanders’ comfy notion that voting for a woman was a feminist act in itself. Especially if the candidate was a pro-life conservative.

Now, we have the rogue elephant book tour, starring Sarah as she bashes McCainites and media. Her memory of the campaign fits a definition of political Alzheimer’s: She’s forgotten everything but the grudges.

Nevertheless, the Newsweek cover photo of the former vice presidential candidate in short-shorts — originally taken for Runner’s World — is deliberately cheesy enough to make her most earnest opponent wince. Whoopi Goldberg, no Palin-ophile she, saw sexism in the photo op.

At the same time, even women who are profoundly tired of the fact that we have to be overqualified to win are turned off by a celebrity pol who still won’t admit she was wildly underqualified.

The most authentic parts of the book are not those of a Palin as rogue but as a child and mother. And then there is a series of remarks straight from the Grrrl Power archives.

“I’m a product of Title IX,” she writes. “I was a direct beneficiary of the equal rights effort. “

She gives a shout-out to Gerry Ferraro and a coffee date invitation to Hillary Clinton. Then she nods respectfully to the founding mothers: “Standing on the shoulders of women who had won hard-fought battles for things like equal pay and equal access, I grew up knowing I could be anything I wanted to be.”

Whoa Nellie. Or rather, Whoa Sarah. There’s such a thing as too much self-esteem. The idea that you can be anything you want to be does not mean that you were ready to be vice president because you “knew the history of the (Iraq) conflict to the extent that most Americans did.” This inkblot got the message without the meaning.

Palin repeats the old movement quip that “there’s no better training ground for politics than motherhood.” It’s one (funny) thing to compare politicians to squabbling kids. It’s another (serious) thing to believe anyone can leap from child care to commander in chief. (Memo to the ex-governor: Real moms don’t quit.)

Sarah the Barracuda took the baton from the women’s movement, but didn’t get the message about passing it on. At one point, she remembers thinking, “You know what I could really use? A wife.” This was a cute line in the 1970s. But as a politician in this century she doesn’t offer any policy to help working mothers who need more than “God and Todd.”

“Going Rogue” is short on self-reflection and long on attitude, including blame. But the author is also the female face of the Republican Party. Liz Cheney goes so far as to say that “it would be nothing short of sexist to say that simply she is not a serious candidate.”

More than half of Republicans think Palin is qualified to be president. Well, the book includes a transcript of a beauty contest back in the 1980s when Sarah the Barracuda was a contender. Asked whether she’d vote for a vice presidential or presidential candidate just because she was a woman, Palin answered, “No, I would not vote for someone just because they were a woman.” Sarah’s lesson. Pass it on.


jonas_opines 8 years, 7 months ago

"More than half of Republicans think Palin is qualified to be president."

Two relatively empty suits in a row, an empty skirt wouldn't be that big of a change.

jonas_opines 8 years, 7 months ago

"Ellen, are you suggesting Palin has feminists more confused then they already were about their existence?"

The only people ever certain about their existence are fools, Muse of Hypocrisy.

ilovetocook 8 years, 7 months ago

I'm not ambivalent. Palin is the antithesis of feminism. Feminism is the opposite of the paternalism that Palin promotes. She wants the government to decide what medical decisions women make, she wants to impose her religious standards on everyone and wants to drown out the voices of people who disagree with her. Those are the very tenets that feminism and patriotism both reject.

mom_of_three 8 years, 7 months ago

Palin hasn't stirred nothing, Tom. Her book is out, so are anyone but repubs not supposed to comment at all, especially when you hold her to be the next big thing.

Great article, and review of the book. ilovetocook said it well, too

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 7 months ago

"In her gestures and in her gaze, one feels the spirit of another people's prophet, equally indifferent to coherent speech, equally disdained by the literate and the elite, but equally beloved of the insulted and injured. His motto was: "I am what I am."

His name, as any real American knows, was Popeye."

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 7 months ago

Why does a piece of legislation need a fact checker?

puddleglum 8 years, 7 months ago

palin stirs moose that would be a little more gooder

diplomacy205 8 years, 7 months ago

ilovetocook, you state "She wants the government to decide what medical decisions women make," Wht exactly do you think that government run healthcare is going to do? The bill states that the government will determine when abortion will be covered. What happens when the gov't changes its mind?

I do find that both Palin and our current Pres are both woefully underqualified to serve.

verity 8 years, 7 months ago

I have no ambivalence about feminism or about Ms. Palin. I so hope that the Republicans select her to run for President in 2012. It will insure that President Obama is re-elected.

Chris Golledge 8 years, 7 months ago

There are some things in this world I understand pretty well; one of the things I don't understand is why Palin is still newsworthy.

Tom McCune 8 years, 7 months ago

Oprah's talk show is ending, and Rush has gone deaf. (Not that he ever listened to anyone else anyway.) Sarah used to be a sportscaster. The book tour is just a preliminary to a talk show. She quit as governor because she can make a whole lot more money as a talk radio personality. She'll never run for office, since it would mean jumping off the talk radio gravy train.

Jeff Kilgore 8 years, 7 months ago

The fact that the national still gives shi about anything she says or thinks reduces us to equal morons. We are the stupid, led by the stupid media that asks us to think about halfwit notions.

For those of you conservatives who think we're afraid of Palin, you're right. We're nauseated, disgusted, and if that makes you happy, to think that a 100% super-incompetent could even be mentioned lead our nation, then you truly love your platform more than your country. That's what makes liberals angry.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 7 months ago

Well, that just shows you're as ignorant as Tom, 75. Unlike a book by a failed politician, legislation is not a collection of purported facts, so why would it need a fact checker?

leedavid 8 years, 7 months ago

Sarah Palin will not be the nominee for the republican party. If she was however, with the republican vote, and the vote of the Obama unemployed she wins easy. With total unemployment running over 17% considering the unemployed not looking for work. That millions of people.

I say she will not be the nominee because she can not overcome the onslaught against her and her family. She gets the VP nominee 30 investigators show up in Alaska looking for dirt. She writes a book and 11 reporters fact check for errors. Which is interesting because she is writing her opinion of the events. How do you fact check her opinion?

Unemployment is expected to continue to climb and this administration is concerned about defending the fake jobs in fake districts they saved or created. I don't know what is more fake; the things you find in a club with exotic dancers or Obama's numbers. Meanwhile the president is vacationing in countries all over the world, changing our image. He did real well in China with that one. They have a high opinion of his spending policies. Geez

Commenting has been disabled for this item.