Welcome to 2008, the year a tough, wonky woman won a primary (lots of them, actually), an inspiring black man secured his party’s nomination for the presidency, and a television talking head felt free to opine that a woman is qualified for executive office because he wants to bed her and have her watch his kids! Stop the election; I want to get off.
What Palin so seductively represents, not only to Donny Deutsch but to the general populace, is a form of feminine power that is utterly digestible to those who have no intellectual or political use for actual women. It’s like some dystopian future … feminism without any feminists.
It works because these stances do not upset antiquated gender norms. So when the moment comes, when tolerance for and interest in female power have been forcibly expanded by Clinton, a woman more willing to throw elbows and defy gender expectations but who falls short of the goal, Palin is there, tapped as a supposedly perfect substitute by powerful men who appreciate her charms.
And then these strong words who restored my sanity:
The pro-woman rhetoric surrounding Sarah Palin’s nomination is a grotesque bastardization of everything feminism has stood for, and in my mind, more than any of the intergenerational pro- or anti-Hillary crap that people wrung their hands over during the primaries, Palin’s candidacy and the faux-feminism in which it has been wrapped are the first development that I fear will actually imperil feminism. Because if adopted as a narrative by this nation and its women, it could not only subvert but erase the meaning of what real progress for women means, what real gender bias consists of, what real discrimination looks like.
At last someone is pulling the curtain away from the wizard of oz!
Traister points out that one reason we’re in this predicament is that the Democrats never really confronted the sexism in our own midst, at least not the leadership and at least not as harshly as Giuliani and McCain are doing it (despite the hypocrisy of their outcries).
And I share her fear:
Which leads us to my greatest nightmare: that because my own party has not cared enough, or was too scared, to lay its rightful claim to the language of women’s rights, that Sarah Palin will reach historic heights of power, under the most egregious of auspices, by plying feminine wiles, and conforming to every outdated notion of what it means to be a woman. That she will hit her marks by clambering over the backs, the bodies, the rights of the women on whose behalf she claims to be working, and that she will do it all under the banner of feminism. How can anybody sleep?
No, I don’t sleep well these nights fearing more of the same life-hating policies that Bush & Co have brought us. In fact, I fear a continuation of Bush & Co just with a slightly different cast. If that happens, we will have lost all the respect from the rest of the world. Rightfully so. What little is left.
(Hat tip to the Feminist Philosophers).