Sunday, August 31, 2008

My Fellow Female Americans

I have always believed that identity politics is bad for a democracy. In an ideal representative republic, constituents should select leaders based on character and ideology, not pigment and genitalia.

Consequently, I was one annoyed female during the Democratic Primaries, when the women and men around me assumed I would strap on a pantsuit and march behind Hillary merely because we both have-- as Oprah painfully says-- Va-Jay-Jay's.

For this reason, I did not view John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate in cynical terms. Women who supported Senator Clinton for president will not automatically support Gov. Palin for vice-president merely because she's "one of us."

Some will. Some won't.

Some women will even go out of their way to stop Palin's political career dead in its moose tracks.

But even women who don't like Gov. Palin should demand that she be treated equally. As women, we should be united in our outrage at the sexist treatment she is receiving at the hands of various pundits and editorialists, just as we were outraged when it happened to Senator Clinton.

When Fox News analyst Juan Williams calls it "affirmative action" and former Presidential candidate John Kerry defines McCain's decision to team up with the Alaska Governor as "erratic" you have to assume their opinions go way beyond good old-fashioned political rhetoric.

When Sam Donaldson sputters and chuckles at the very idea that Sarah Palin is ready to assume the duties of President (should McCain pass away) even as Cokie Roberts reminds him that most governors don't have foreign policy experience, you have to wonder if he's just afraid of a chick being in charge.

When George Stephanopoulos-- the man who convinced Americans that a two-term governor from Arkansas was experienced enough to be leader of the free world-- repeats and repeats and repeats this idea that Palin has no foreign policy experience and therefore is unqualified (Do I have to repeat that Bill Clinton was in charge of Arkansas?) then something is seriously amiss.

When you hear the phrases "I'm sure she's a nice lady...", "This former beauty queen..." and "She seems bright..." tossed around in a casual manner, you have to believe Palin's critics are not judging her on ideas or past accomplishments, but they are also consciously-- or more frighteningly, subconsciously-- using degrading language to send the message that a woman should not be taken seriously.

The fact that some of the critics using these very tactics are other women makes me ill.

I would not expect black Republicans (yes they do exist) to be silent if Barack Obama was a victim of blatant racism and I dearly hope that woman will not let their party affiliation stand in the way of what's right. You don't have to vote for McCain/Palin, but that doesn't mean you can't hold the misogynists up to ridicule.

When they say a woman can't juggle motherhood and politics, stand up for her. When they suggest that her Down syndrome baby is the result of her working too hard, stand up for her. When they say she won't be able to stand up to Putin, stand up for her.

Make them judge Palin by what she stands for, not the by the high heels she stands in.


Suzy said...

Great post Traci. Sad too. I think eventually all this ragging on her is going to backfire and piss off a lot of people, not just women. I'm glad it's happening so people can see the true agenda behind men in power and how deeply they fear women being in charge.

And being president is not done in a vacuum. The amount of advisors they have boggles. NO president runs the country alone. Even when LBJ took over he was swarmed by aides and advisors because they werent sure he was up for the job. And he was the Vice-President!

Lawyer Mom said...

Traci, I feel your pain. But I'm afraid men will always fear babes who have brains. A girl can be hot and a girl can be smart, but if she's both simultaneously, she will always get shot.

Traci Skene said...

There are plenty of men who like smart, hot babes which is why we should ridicule the guys who don't.

Apparently, Sarah Palin's husband isn't threatened by her brains or her beauty (I think she looks like Mariska Hargitay.) He's man enough to be Alaska's "first dude" and to take over the parenting while she seeks the second highest office in the land. He's a good example.

For years, many women have assumed that conservative men were the ones who felt most threatened, but the overwhelming majority of this sexist chatter (including what was said about Hillary) was done by liberals.

I've always told people, when it comes to enemies, look both ways.