Let up on Palin

My political slip is going to show in this post.

I stopped regularly following the election when we all realized Clinton wasn’t going to get the nomination. Obama is fine, I just don’t think he is experienced enough. That’s all.

However, I am kind of a media junkie. From my work comptuer, I log in to a news site about every 10 minutes to check the weather, check facebook, check the news, check my email, and check more news. The internet is my primary source of news these days, along with the snippets of NPR we leave on for the dog blaring from an old clock radio in the bathroom. He will be the most informed yellow lab this side of the Mississippi.

And here is what I am seeing:

Palin! Palin! Palin!

Oy.

I have yet to see any smear campaigns about Biden. I barely know who Biden is. Except that he’s white and male.

And that’s probably the point.

Here’s what I know about Palin, and I haven’t even read a FULL NEWS STORY about her:

-She is a member of the NRA
-Her unwed teen dauther is preggers, but don’t worry, she’s marrying the dad;
-Another child has Down’s Syndrome;
-She has a grizzly bear pelt covering the couch in her office;
-She hunts and fishes;
-She claims not to know what a Vice President does;
-There are concerns that McCain doesn’t even really know her;
-The evangelical Christian conservatives are really excited about her
-She flip-flopped on the famed “Bridge to Nowhere.”

I am awaiting the headlines regarding her hair, her choice of clothing, make-up, shoe heel height, choice of eye glasses, and pictures revealing her status as a cheerleader in high school, or that she was involved in some unfortunately-named-pageant wearing a bathing suit and heels.

I know nothing of Biden. Except that he’s old and white.

Everyone’s up in arms about Palin. Oh, she sucks. Oh, she’s horrible. Oh, she’s dumb.

You know, I am in no way a conservative. I don’t own a gun. There’s no way I would have five children, let my 17-year-old get married, be excited that evangelical Christians were excited about me, or have a grizzly bear pelt within a 5 mile radius of my office. Palin and I? Far more different than alike.

But all the crap she is getting?

It’s pure sexism. If she were a man, no one would give a fuck if she hunted, fished, had an unwed pregnant teen daughter, had a kid with a developmental disability, or belonged to the NRA.

That she does all of those things and is now up for the Vice Presidency challenges our assumptions of what a woman is supposed to be doing.

She reminds me of Clinton in a certain way.

Clinton did her own thing too. She had her own career. She didn’t give up her life to Bill. She had shit to do, and she did it. And while I prefer Clinton to Palin a million times over, both were, are, will continue to be victims of the institution of sexism.

Because any man — any white man — that is up for vice presidency — will not have to face questions about why he decorates his office the way he does, about why he is a member of the NRA, about why he wears pants suits, about why he didn’t give up his career when his husband ran for office, about why he let his children get so out of hand. He is given the privilege to do whatever the fuck he wants, whenever he wants, and no one ever questions it.

That is why I am a feminist. Because people like Palin and Clinton should be able to run for office without the world having to devolve into a discussion of hair and pantsuits.

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8 Comments

  1. Rachel said,

    September 3, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    I don’t agree that the media ought to let up on Palin. What I do agree with is that they should redirect their focus on issues that truly matter, like a discussion of her utter lack of experience and credentials in foreign policy and her position on issues like health care, the economy, the Iraq war, poverty, etc…

  2. Patsy Nevins said,

    September 3, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    I myself am conerned about whether or not we want someone a heartbeat from the presidency who wants to tell us how to conduct personal relationships, to deny us the right to control our own bodies, who will fire however many people it takes to get rid of someone she wants gone, & who wants to ban books & in fact will fire librarians in order to get books she doesn’t approve out of a library. I don’t care whether she is female, white, or an orangutan, I have to say that much of what I am hearing about this person scares the bejesus out of me & I don’t want her in a position of such great power & influence. I am neither gay nor able to ever again be pregnant, but Palin wants us back in the 19th century.

  3. Godless Heathen said,

    September 3, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    The only reason why her unwed (soon to be wed) pregnant teenage daughter is a story is that Palin wants every woman and girl who gets pregnant to have no choice as to whether or not she’ll be having a baby. It’s only a story because Palin supports abstinence only sex ed, which has been shown to not stop teens from having sex, only stop them from having safe sex. Palin wants her daughter’s situation to be everyone’s daughter’s situation. Palin’s people and the McCain people go on and on about Bristol’s choice to keep the child, while ignoring the irony that if they were in power Bristol, and all other women wouldn’t have any choice in the matter.

  4. Holly said,

    September 3, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    I don’t think the comparison to how extensively the media has recently covered Biden is fair. The reason you’re not hearing about Biden is not because he is “white and male” or “old and white.” To the media and most people who follow politics, Biden is pretty much a known quantity. There is already a ton of readily available info about Biden on the internet, but it’s not new info. On the other hand, the media and even a lot of people who follow politics relatively closely didn’t really know much about Sarah Palin before she was tapped to be McCain’s VP.

    Some of the particular things reported about Palin may be emphasized b/c she’s female and some of the reporting may reflect sexism – e.g., the pregnant daughter and some of the beauty queen reporting – but I think the general media feeding frenzy over Palin is due to the fact that she was much more of an out-of-left field pick than Biden and there are genuinely unknown or not widely known things to dig up about her. Some of that digging has been a little ridiculous, but a lot isn’t.

    I don’t think you’d see the same flurry if McCain had chosen female Kay Bailey Hutchinson (a known quantity); you’d see some of the same activity if McCain had chosen Tim Palawenty – someone who is white and male, but also relatively unknown, although there’d been more buzz about him as a possible VP pick than there was about Palin.

  5. DRST said,

    September 3, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    I think focusing on this totally unknown, unqualified person is completely justified. I’m as appalled at the sexism in *some* of the coverage but the existence of the coverage isn’t based on sexism so much as nobody knows who this person is, and there are a ton of dodgy things coming up about her past (abusing her office to try to get someone fired, firing a state official because he wouldn’t simply do as she told him, hiring a known harasser to take that job, belonging to a radical fringe secessionist group, and my personal favorite, attributing the Pledge of Allegiance to the Founding Fathers) that call into question whether she was ready to be put on a national stage at all, much less step into position as the second most powerful person in the country (unless you’re Cheney, in which case you’re #1).

    And actually, yes NRA membership and hunting are focused on even with the old white dudes. Mitt Romney lied about how often he went hunting in a desperate attempt to court the right-wing “red meat” vote last winter.

    And if you think for a microsecond an unmarried pregnant 17 year old daughter wouldn’t be attracting massive attention from any candidate, you haven’t been paying attention to politics very long. Especially if that child belonged to a vehement forced-birther who was a member of the Republican party.

    Of course, if it was one of Obama’s daughters in that situation, we’d be witnessing media armageddon.

    Also these are not “smears.” The Obama campaign sent a swift and strongly-worded message that they would absolutely not go anywhere near anything involving Palin’s children, and they have not. A “smear” is something released deliberately to try and discredit a candidate (see Rove, Karl or “Swift Boat”). What’s coming up now are news stories being dug up by a scandal-worshipping media complex that the Republicans were only too happy to see unleashed on Obama over Jeremiah Wright and on Bill Clinton for every goddamn thing he ever said or did. Now the attack dogs have latched onto the juicy meat of Palin’s life and the Republicans are whining and trying to blame the Democrats that the monster they created has turned on them ala Frankenstein.

  6. Piffle said,

    September 3, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    Well, I did see some coverage of Biden’s plagerism problems, so he’s not being totally ignored.

    It makes me see red to see people jump on Palin about her choice to have a baby and work, or to insinuate that she’s a bad parent because her daughter is having a baby. There’s a whole lot of sexism going on, and I don’t like it any better for being directed at Palin than I did when it was directed at Hillary. Shows the Left isn’t any more feminist than the Right. A pox on both their houses, I’m still writing in Clinton. Gah.

    Now, if they want to argue that Palin is a bad choice because she’s pro life, that’s fine; or because she’s creationist, that’s fine too; or even because they don’t like her personality, that’s okay too. And I do recall some considerable fun being made of Ashcroft for draping certain statues…

  7. Kimberley said,

    September 4, 2008 at 12:46 am

    I wouldn’t insinuate that Palin is a bad parent because her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant – she’s a bad parent because she knew her daughter was pregnant before she was offered the job of vice-president – and took it, knowing that Bristol’s pregnancy would become national media-fodder.

    There’s something so chilling in that – I honestly believe that ANY parent, male or female, who would expose their absolutely-not-media-ready child to that sort of focus ( and derision, because of the parent’s well-publicized belief in abstinence-only education) is derelict in their duty.

    Sarah Palin creeps me out – and I’d still be creeped out to the exact same degree if she were a man. Sex has nothing to do with it, for me – character does.

  8. Bountiful Luv Muffin said,

    September 5, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Thank you. I participate in a teachers’ chatboard, and the most vocal of the so-called “feminists” are ripping Palin to shreds for not being a traditional female. I’m not a feminist…I just do what I damn well please, and I give hell to anyone who tries to tell me no! (Which is what women in my family have done for generations…)


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