Monday, September 8, 2008

My Thoughts on Sarah Palin

My mom called last week and exclaimed, "you must be thrilled McCain chose a woman for VP!" Then she asked me (in all seriousness) who i was going to vote for now that there was a woman in the picture. Up until that moment i didn't think that Palin would earn votes simply for having a vagina. I'll be honest, i am sometimes (usually) sexist when choosing doctors. I always go to a woman because i know that she has worked harder than most men in her class to get there. I also know she had to prove herself not only as a doctor but as a female doctor and that means she is probably more qualified for medicine than most of the men in her field. I know that she has faced sexism and has been overlooked for positions. Truth is, i may be wrong in my assumptions but it makes me feel like i am going to a more qualified, harder working person when i imagine the road that got them to where they are. Sexist? Yes. Accurate? Probably, but also not in all cases. My (il?)logic doesn't translate into politics though. Politicians are carefully bred and hand selected, not necessarily for hard work or qualifications but for fit. This is why i (and many many women) would never vote for Palin solely because she is female. In fact, polls found that women are more skeptical of Palin than men and that the Obama-Biden ticket understands the issues and concerns of women best.

Gloria Steinem wrote an op-ed last week illustrating that, "Sarah Palin shares nothing but a chromosome with Hillary Clinton. She is Phyllis Schlafly, only younger." Steinem writes:


This isn't the first time a boss has picked an unqualified woman just because she agrees with him and opposes everything most other women want and need... So let's be clear: The culprit is John McCain. He may have chosen Palin out of change-envy, or a belief that women can't tell the difference between form and content, but the main motive was to please right-wing ideologues; the same ones who nixed anyone who is now or ever has been a supporter of reproductive freedom. If that were not the case, McCain could have chosen a woman who knows what a vice president does and who has thought about Iraq; someone like Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison or Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine. McCain could have taken a baby step away from right-wing patriarchs who determine his actions, right down to opposing the Violence Against Women Act.

Although Palin's inexperience scares me, what makes me more fearful is her inexpertness combined with her extreme (and often insane) positions. For example, Palin believes that creationism should be taught in public schools. She also does not believe that global warming exists. She believes that we should face the effects of global warming, but not that humans have been at all accountable for the damage. Her environmental opinions are deplorable: she supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, a position that even most republicans disagree with. Palin opposes gun control, you know, because the government doesn't have the right to tell us what to do with our gun... but she supports the government's control over women's bodies. Because though we are smart and freethinking enough to shoot guns (and possibly do damage to other people's bodies), we certainly are not smart and freethinking enough to control our own bodies. There's phallic symbolism in there somewhere...

Another tactic i can't quite grasp is why it is so important to paint candidates as relatable. Palin is your average "hockey mom." Obama is the epitome of "rags to riches." I know it's important to humanize candidates but you know what? I don't want my president (or veep) to be an "average" person, I want my elected officials to be much smarter than me, better decision makers, more qualified to govern than i (or any "average person") would be. Back to my medical comparisons, let's put this in different terms: if i was going to have surgery, i wouldn't want an average person cutting me open; i would want someone skilled with a knife. I would want the best fucking surgeon out there. Just like i want the best people in office, not average hockey moms, because if anything, illustrating Palin as "average" and relatable makes her look even less qualified in my eyes. And her record does that for her already, no trite tactics necessary.

Obviously they aren't average. They are in a position to run for office. Obviously that takes (at the very least) money and power. It's insulting to try and fool me into believing they're average, and suggesting that's a good thing...

But i also think we're underestimating Palin a bit. She's the perfect person for McCain to have chose. A perfect, pearl wearing, no hair out of place, gun shooting, oil drilling, anti-choice supporting, evangelical beauty queen. I'm not being sexist, I'm just illustrating the demographic that they're trying to reach by selecting her. Obviously they didn't take the decision lightly and i doubt they were banking solely on Hilary supporters. Palin isn't being used only to lore women to vote republican, although the GOP is hopeful sisterhood will prevail. Palin was also strategically selected because McCain isn't (well, wasn't...) right-wing enough for the ultra-conservatives and Palin will drive home the message of the Christian-base. As far as the GOP thinking women vote strictly with their vaginas and that Hilary supporters would jump on the McCainmobile because he selected a female, i'm not too too worried. I hope (believe?) that women as a whole are smarter than to fall for that. What i am concerned with is how much further to the right McCain has gone in the last few months and how he may have cemented his position on the far right by selecting Palin. I don't care why they chose her, I do care though that they have both pledged to criminalize abortion by overturning Roe vs. Wade...

And because i can't resist Sarah Haskins, here's her take on Palin:



11 comments:

M.R.Ambrose said...

Hey! I like your blog content. I'll be sure to keep posted.

oh!press pass

Fourth Wave Feminism said...

Great post! I completely agree.

Especially:
But i also think we're underestimating Palin a bit. She's the perfect person for McCain to have chose. A perfect, pearl wearing, no hair out of place, gun shooting, oil drilling, anti-choice supporting, evangelical beauty queen. I'm not being sexist, I'm just illustrating the demographic that they're trying to reach by selecting her.

It's scary, really. At first blush I thought McCain was just being stupid and pandering to women voters, but I soon realized it was much more insidious than that...and it seems to be working!

Also: I hadn't seen the vid before, so thanks for that.

Mark said...

I am happy for the pick, in that, I think in the long run, it will hurt McCain more than help (I hope). However, I was astonished of what they really managed to accomplish here.

We were just on the edge of having the first major contender for the president be female, a female who is highly qualified, intelligent and a leader. This was a major triumph for feminists, even if she is not the nominee. And the McCain camp managed to turn one of feminisms recent major triumphs into sexist patriarchy. Women will not be leaders but can be used at will to support the patriarch and patriarchy in place. They can be in the spotlight without the experience as long as they are attractive, religious mothers. To turn a feminist moment into a success for patriarchy is darkly impressive.

frau sally benz said...

Pretty much the usual: I agree with everything here. I would not comment b/c I have nothing to add, but really wanted to say WOOHOO that you're alive and back!

Kandee said...

The average mom: It comes back to the anti-intellectualism culture in the US where it looks bad on others if you're smarter or better equipped. Elitist, even. Oh gosh!

I agree with your post. And all the other comments. Vagina as a tradeable commodity. Who are they trying to fool? Oh yeah, themselves.

Renee said...

Palin opposes gun control, you know, because the government doesn't have the right to tell us what to do with our gun... but she supports the government's control over women's bodies. Because though we are smart and freethinking enough to shoot guns (and possibly do damage to other people's bodies), we certainly are not smart and freethinking enough to control our own bodies.

This is an excellent point on all of the contradictions this woman embodies. Women like her are dangerous. This is part of the reason I feel it is necessary to point out and vehemently oppose their colluding behavior.

Amelia said...

My stepdad's family pulled the same "Oh, aren't you thrilled that a woman is on the ticket! Who are you gonna vote for now??" thing with me, despite my many explanations of my support of Obama in the past. It shows a general ignorance about women and feminists in general, and I would feel badly for Palin being used as such a tool if I didn't know that she was happily going along with it and benefitting from it.

Currently I am working on a list of reasons that Palin is bad for women (and citizens in general) to give to my family that asked those ill-founded questions.

FeministGal said...

M.R.Ambrose, welcome :) thanks for the compliment and for stopping by!

Fourth Wave Feminism, i know, Haskins is hilarious! i don't know if you've seen her other Target Women episodes, if not, check them out in my blog a few posts back :)

Mark, I love this line: "To turn a feminist moment into a success for patriarchy is darkly impressive." So very true.

frau sally benz, HI!!! :) Thanks and it's nice to be back!! :)

kandee, well i might be joining you in canada in a few months :) Need a babysitter? :)

Renee, at least it's not Ann Coulter??

Amelia, if you do put together that list, definitely post it on your blog, i would LOVE a copy to hand my fam :)

phd in yogurtry said...

It's a sad, anger inducing, irony - they picked Palin (in part) to attract the disgruntled Hillary supporters. Which would be me. Very highly disappointed. INstead they have succeeded only in insulting us.

Because like you, I didn't want just any woman, its that I wanted a woman who is QUALIFIED and who represents the interests of women (including a woman's right to choose her own medical destiny) and who believes in policies that do the greatest good for the greatest number (i.e. the middle class, not the country clubbers).

I love Steinhem's chromosome comment!

Alex Z. said...

Expecting women who supported Hillary Clinton to vote for a Republican who opposes just about everything she stands for merely because she too has a vagina is about as sexist as it gets.

Now what's scary is that it will partly work. I'm talking of course about the people who have no interest in candidates' positions and vote based on superficial characteristics, or vote on single issues. They'll see a woman on the bill and vote for her. It's the same as people who are voting for or against Obama simply because he's black. Or the people who vote based on whether a candidate supports or opposes abortion. People like this exist by the thousands and it makes my blood boil just thinking about it. Nevermind the whole picture, look at his skin or the fact she has boobs!

I do think the choice will come back to bite McCain right in his wrinkly ass, but the biggest hurdle Obama has to overcome right now is the fact that nearly every mainstream news outlet is playing up the gender card and reporting on useless shit (omg Palin has five kids!, which is completely irrelevant to anything), and it's causing a kind of knee jerk reaction, helping McCain win support (see: the lipstick fiasco AKA dumbass central). In fact, it's quite a brilliant move on the Republican's side: make a pretty stupid move, then garner votes through outrage and misinterpretations of your opponent's words.

I think the biggest indicator of how awful Palin is as a candidate is the fact that she left a town of barely 9000 people 20 million dollars in debt. No one seems to want to report on this little fact. You know, relevant shit.

God I hate democracy sometimes.

DJ Dual Core said...

Like everything else it's identity politics. She's been co-opted. The Republicans are hoping to bring lots of otherwise good people who identify with her down too the same fate.

It really sucks. She sounds like a fine person to have as a neighbor.