Saturday, September 6, 2008

News from the North

Regardless of how you feel about Sarah Palin and whether or not you feel like throwing your lot behind the opinions of someone who knew her back when, this whole Anne Kilkenny situation is pretty compelling evidence that one person's voice can still make a difference.

For those who don't know what I'm talking about, last week, a woman from Wasilla, Alaska emailed her friends a letter discussing her opinion of Governor Sarah Palin. And, in case you want confirmation that she's the real McCoy, she was on yesterday's NPR show All Things Considered.


Notably--especially from a feminist perspective--Kilkenny is also quoted in this NY Times article, which, among other things, discusses Sarah Palin's alleged attempt to have books banned from the library.

(There's already been much talk in the blogosphere about the book banning issue, but for some reason I can't my references, except this one from the blog Feminist Law Professors.)

Also, two articles from The Anchorage Daily News, originally published in February 1997, shed some interesting light on the issues:

"Wasilla keeps librarian, but police chief is out" | February 1, 1997
and
"Foes back off their push to recall mayor" | February 11, 1997

Consider this your Palin update for the day. Tomorrow I intend to actually talk about something else (shocker). Promise.

Bonus Update: Renee over at Womanist Musings found an image of the lovely button some Republicans were wearing at the RNC: "Alaska Governor Sarah Palin: The Hottest VP, From the Coolest State." Of course, that's not sexist because calling a woman "hot" is a positive thing. Right? Right.

Bonus Update #2: Just to insert some levity into the Sarah Palin debates (thanks to Feminist Gal's post about Palin for the link), Sarah Haskins, on what it means to be a P.A.N.T.H.E.R.:



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Friday, September 5, 2008

How sexist! But only when it's convenient...

As seems to happen a lot, Jon Stewart last night picked up on what's been really bothering me about all this talk about the sexism of the MSM and the Democrats towards Gov. Palin. I know, I know, The Daily Show isn't "real" news, but Stewart provides some pretty compelling evidence of the hypocrisy. And he's funny:



Like I said earlier, it's completely hypocritical to unilaterally claim sexist treatment (i.e. to say in 2007 that Sen. Clinton should "suck it up" and then raise a ruckus in 2008 when any mention is made of Gov. Palin's family life). Sexism and misogyny are issues of equality and respect for all women, not convenient rhetorical devices (qua political machinations) useful in negating legitimate critiques.

Some things people have said about Palin are sexist. Some things are not. And I think we, especially as feminists, should be able to recognize the difference.

I may be repeating myself a wee bit, but I think this is something that bears repeating. Still, I'll climb off my soapbox now and not speak of this again. For now.

Update: Also, check out The Daily Show clip from last night posted over on Jump off the Bridge re: the Show's news team trying to get Republicans to talk about choice. It's simply priceless.

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Behind every great man is a whiny woman

I don't usually consider The Defamer a news-source extraordinaire, but when my fellow blogger, Few, sent me this article about Susan Sarandon's recent interview in the gay news magazine The Advocate, I had to check it out.

While, of course, Sarandon is entitled to her opinion, I can't help but be seriously piqued by her use of the words "blamer" and "whiner" to describe Hillary Clinton, as well as her claim that Senator Clinton wouldn't have had any political cache if she hadn't been a) a woman and b) Bill Clinton's wife. Huh.

Here's an except from The Advocate interview, which you can check out yourself in its entirety:

You’ve played quite a few real-life people now. Would you like to play Hillary Clinton in the movie of her life?
No. I’ve been around her and don’t find her… At this point, to say after what’s happened to her campaign and how they squandered all that money and all the different reasons her campaign fell apart, to blame it on sexism, I find so destructive to every young girl who dreams about making a difference through government. Instead of saying, "Look how far I’ve gotten and you can do it too," and all the positive things she could have done, she’s turned into such a blamer and whiner, as if that was the reason, when clearly she wouldn’t have been in the position she was in if she hadn’t been a woman. If she hadn’t been married to that man and hadn’t had the Democratic machine behind her. To now turn around and say it was sexism I find so dishonorable and really destructive to women all over, young women all over. So I don’t really respect her enough to want to play her, and I find it sad and disappointing.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

High(er) Heels

I've spent an inordinate amount of time today trying to figure out the women over at Hire Heels. (Not to be confused with the ladies of Heels for Hire, which--you have to admit--would be kind of a funny mix-up. Or not. Depending on your sense of humor and whether or not you find the completely coincidental website name similarity and my bringing it up offensive or not. It's almost like the one-letter-but-worlds-apart difference between www.hotmail.com and www.hotmale.com that so amused me my freshman year in college. Hint: the latter is a gay porn site, so don't copy/paste the address into your browser at work.)

Sorry, back on track: Hire Heels is a website for and by fans of Hillary Clinton. Their tagline? "We adore shoes, but we LOVE Hillary." That's straightforward enough, and so is their general outlook that Hillary Clinton is an amazing woman and politician and that she was robbed during this year's primary campaign. Much like the group P.U.M.A. (Party Unity My Ass), though perhaps(?) not quite as radically anti-Obama, Hire Heels is committed to its support for Clinton and is very riled by the Democratic Party's treatment of her over the past year. Of course, anyone who read the first post of this blog would know that I'm pro-Hillary, too, and that I'm against sexism in all shapes and forms in the media and beyond. However, the comments on one of the most recent Hire Heels blog entries kind of--for lack of a better term--freaked me out.

Here's an excerpt of comments on the blog posting "that 70’s freak-show, except it’s 2008" (which is about the sexist treatment of Gov. Palin):

PUMA KY:
The sexism has got to stop, Democrat, Republican, Independent, Third Party, don’t care. STOP THE SEXISM. I’ve been on email and phone today calling media outlets and telling them “we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.” I even called the McCain campaign and told them how horrible I thought the media had been to Hillary and Palin and that I applaud McCain’s campaign for standing up to it.

[...]

SPIN:
you guys are still spiteful, because your girl lost. still can’t get over it.
[...]
first, mcfossil was pimping his POW card, and now he’s pimping his palin card.

those are acts of a desparate man who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about you guys. he just wants to be president.

and it was soooo easy…..all he had to do was dangle the palin carrot in front of you. he’s probably sitting there laughing at how easy it was.

you think his side respects women more? he was so desparate to win, he picked a woman he’s met only once before and had to ask what a vp does. and of course he picked a good looking woman because he is a cheater and womanizer and it’s so much easier to look at a good looking woman for the next 4 years than an ugly one. so basically, he’s using you.
[...]
admit it. you didn’t vote dem or reb. you voted women. all your comments here prove it. you’re also voting for palin to spite obama. you guys are still so angry.
[...]
you’re mad because the media’s picking on palin’s daughter? how about mccain picking on obama’s kids? and what did he say about chelsea clinton? what hypocrisy.
[...]

BOOGIEMAN7167:
spin your realy not to bright are you.1st you come in here slam these girls did you even ready any of the gals post on here you,D see that there pissed at the way Palin. been treated & you come then you said i should be ashamed myself thats where you really f**D up as far a being bitter . from your post your the one thats sounds bitter. you want anything from anyone in here why dont you start treated them & me with some respect or shut the F*** u*
as far as you being a women i think thats a bunch of bs to
unlike you obama-sheep we can think for ourselves.

go pumas


Ummm...okay. Before I add my two cents, let me just state, for the record, that I copied all of that as-is from the website (excepting the parts I cut for length and marked with ellipses); there are more comments, too, which you can read for yourself.

I'm mostly on board with Puma Ky's comments (until the part about applauding McCain, but that's my personal opinion), but I also largely agree with Spin, excepting the fact that his/her tone is (as Boogieman7167 accuses, though somewhat incoherently) completely disrespectful. That's not cool. But, I do agree that McCain is pandering by choosing Palin as VP, and that he's cleverly managed to use sexism in his favor. Now whenever anyone says anything bad about Sarah Palin, they're automatically being sexist because she's a woman. It's like a preemptive strike against a whole cadre of possible complaints about things like her (in)experience in elected office. I refuse to believe that all negative allegations/responses towards Palin are inherently sexist just because she's a woman. That is sexist in and of itself.

The media and politicians have been ripping into candidates--including their family history, their legislative track record, possible scandals, hobbies, pastimes, hunting trophies, college shenanigans, etc.--for as long as there have been candidates. I don't always think this prying and mud-slinging is right; in fact, it's often completely reprehensible. However, it's pretty obnoxious to suddenly scream "sexism!" only when it's convenient for your party. What about all those times Hillary was accused of being a ball-buster and a feminazi, often by right-wing pundits and politicians, some of the same people who are now claiming that dissent regarding Palin is sexist?

Don't get me wrong, I do not think it's okay to drag Governor Palin through the mud in the misogynist ways in which Senator Clinton was dragged through the mud. However, don't we have to draw the what-constitutes-sexism-and-what's-just-politics line somewhere?

Thoughts?

ETA: If you're interested in seeing examples of sexism against Sarah Palin, check out the running tally over at Shakesville. Also, see the call-to-action against sexism at Womanist Musings.

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Roads to Hell

This is my first contribution to this new blog, so I was filled with a little trepidation at what I should write about. Although part of me hates to be caught up in the same obsession that seems to have taken hold of our lovely founder, several conversations today have lead me to wander down that road to hell now paved with erstwhile Republicans. I just returned from the Democratic National Convention in Denver, and while there, had the opportunity to see and hear from many of our female elected officials, including several Senators and Congresswomen, and a handful of female representatives of the 4th estate. On more than one occasion, a quote attributed to Madeline Albright, former Secretary of State and Ambassador to the United Nations, was cast upon the winds, its clear intent a clarion call to women: “There’s a special place in Hell reserved for women who don’t help other women.”

This week, watching the ravenous jackals of the media feed on yet another woman, I began to wonder, “Is that help reserved only for the women we like, the ones with whom we agree, the ones whose policies don’t make us cringe in anticipatory fear, or does it mean ALL women? And what exactly is the help we are supposed to provide?”

I wrote the first couple paragraphs of this yesterday, and since then a great deal has transpired, not the least of which are allegations by the Republican party of blatant sexism on the part of the MSM, among others, toward VP nominee, Sarah Palin. Let me say up front, I detest almost everything that Palin stands for in terms of social policy and political theory. That being said, hell yes, she has been the victim of sexism. No male candidate would ever have his credentials as a serious politician questioned simply on the basis of the number of and/or age of his children, their medical conditions or lack thereof, or his parenting skills. Period. Never happen, my friends.

So, why is it considered acceptable to do so with a female politician? And perhaps more specifically, why does much of the Left, for decades the bastion of support for the downtrodden, for minorities squashed under the heel of the Establishment, not only consider indulging in spurious attacks on Palin to be fair game, but their civic duty? Has liberalism always had hidden in a secret compartment in its bag of tricks such sickening, offensive sexism or is it only when women have power within their grasp that it is slipped out into the sweaty palm of the party of the people and wielded like a baseball bat in the hands of a four year old; with little finesse, but a lot of enthusiasm?

And why do we let them?

There have been few card carrying members of the Left who have dared to rally to Palin’s defense, Hillary Clinton’s former communications director, Howard Wolfson being one of them. “There’s no way those questions would be asked of a male candidate,” said Howard Wolfson, a former top strategist for Clinton’s presidential campaign.

I won’t even begin my litany of the absolutely abhorrent, disgustingly sexist things said about Hillary Clinton during the primary season....none of us has that much time. Suffice it to say, I haven’t been surprised by the attacks on Palin. Merely surprised by the response, especially by prominent Democratic women. I hate to be the one to point this out to such esteemed political leaders and members of Congress, but silence is a statement in itself. It is tacit approval and acceptance of all the jokes, all the veiled remarks, all the outright fabrications.

Attack Palin’s stance on abortion, on off-shore drilling, and same-sex marriage. Question her experience and her ability to deal with real issues like foreign policy and the economy should she be required to do so. But do not say that if she hadn’t been so busy running for office and then running a state that her 17 year old daughter wouldn’t be pregnant. Do not ask how a mother with five children can possibly be Vice President. Do not second guess her decision to have a child with Down’s Syndrome. And for Heaven’s sake, for Madeline Albright’s sake, do not stand idly by and allow anyone else to do so. Doing so takes us all a little closer to the special place in Hell reserved for women who don’t help other women.

My two cents....adjusted for inflation. Feel free to toss in a couple pennies of your own.

Few

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Men as pigs...literally

A friend of mine, and fellow contributor (she should be posting soon...supposedly), suggested that I am perhaps a wee bit obsessed with Sarah Palin. This may be true, but considering I'm basically drowning in all-Palin-all-the-time on television, in the blogosphere, and while listening to NPR, it's not surprising. However, I am going to try very hard to not talk about Sarah Palin anymore during this post. Starting...now.

Last night, I was watching The Daily Show on Hulu, trying to catch up on all the episodes I missed during the Democratic National Convention. Since Hulu is ad-supported, they show two or three commercials during the course of each show. One of the commercials, which I'd all but forgotten about since it first aired in the spring, was this Hungry Man ad:




At first, I had a knee-jerk "hey! sexist!" response--not to mention that the idea of a whole pound of frozen food is a little freaky to me--but then I forced myself to admit that I actually found the ad kind of funny. Am I supposed to be offended by the stereotype of women drinking fruity smoothies and going to the bathroom in pairs and threesomes? Maybe. But...I'm really not. At most, I'm a teensie bit miffed by the disdain in Hungry Man's voice when he calls his colleagues "ladies." My response made me wonder two things:

1) Are ads like this inherently sexist, and problematically so, but we've just become so inured to rampant sexism in advertising that something like this barely raises an eyebrow? Or, are we overreacting?

2) If we find ourselves offended by commercials like the Hungry Man ad, should we be equally offended by something like this Trojan condom ad, which not only pokes fun at the idea of men as pigs, but also makes good rhetorical use of that idea to comic effect:



Of course, I'm not sure what to make of the fact that CBS and Fox apparently banned the above ad back when it first aired last summer. Apparently, someone (a man?) was offended.

What do you think?

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Monday, September 1, 2008

The definition of irony

This statement from the McCain/Palin campaign is possibly the most ironic thing I have seen in a long time. Although I suppose the irony is not in the statement itself. The fact that Sarah Palin's 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, is five months pregnant is a serious matter and should not be, as Senator Obama rightly remarked, a public matter (a quite savvy, diplomatic response on his part). Let's try to not to think about what would happen--what kind of mud-slinging we'd be in store for--if this were a Democratic candidate's teenage daughter. The ironic thing is that Palin is a proponent of abstinence-only education.



At a loss for words? McCain's campaign has offered some talking points for the media.

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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Daily Palin

I promise to get off this Palin kick. I actually had something else I wanted to post about this evening but have completely forgotten what it was. Politics are distracting me from all other things cultural (but they will not stop me from watching Mad Men tonight, no ma'am). Anyway, I found two other Palin-y things that may be of interest, a great news round-up on the blog A Feather Adrift and Friday night's The Daily Show:


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