Monday, September 01, 2008

The Bridge To Nowhere: News From An Alternate Reality

So Sarah Palin is John McCain's Vice Presidential pick. She's the Governor of Alaska, a fervent social conservative and a favorite among the fundamentalist base of the Republican Party. Some also think that she was picked to skim off some of those disappointed Hillary Clinton supporters: women who wanted to see a female president during their lifetimes.

My head is spinning. My first reaction to the choice of Palin was that John McCain is one of those funny guys who thinks of the concept of a "woman" as a spoonful out of some imaginary mountain of the characteristic "womanhood", so that any woman is just as good as any other woman, and that he doesn't see any reason why feminists wouldn't vote for Palin. Even if Palin only supports abortion in the case when a woman's life is at risk. No rape exception for our Sarah, nope. But she's got a vagina, right? So those feminazis must like her.

Do you see how what he's doing is sexist? He refuses to see women as individuals, and that's why his choice is insulting if it is intended to snare the Clinton supporting feminists. If it is intended to snare the Republican fundie base the choice may well be quite smart, who knows. Though I doubt they think a mother of five children should be running for anything but more diapers for the baby and beer for the husband.

Still, Palin is a ferocious social conservative and totally for abstinence-only education. The Republican base approves of that. And no, there is no conflict between that and the announced pregnancy of Palin's teenage daughter, not among the fundie base, because their beliefs are a) that teenage sex is wrong and getting pregnant outside the marriage is wrong but b) getting an abortion is even more wrong and c) having the baby is a suitable punishment for any girl slutty enough to have had sex. - That's of course my translation of the underlying value system.

What else can I say about this woman who told us that she'd break through the marble ceiling, the one which Hillary Clinton mentioned as now having millions of cracks because she came so close to becoming the Democratic candidate for the president? I can say that should Palin somehow succeed in that breaking she'd waste no time in getting the cement mixed and the trowel ready to permanently fill that hole so that no other woman could follow her, ever. I can also ask you to read about Palin's political views and actions and the political trouble she has had in Alaska.

Did I already mention that all this smells and tastes like an alternate universe? I did? A couple of days ago I saw a headline about the Palin choice, and even though I was still on vacation I took it down just because it was so silly. It went something like this: "Mothers React To Palin As the Vice-Presidential Pick."

Imagine the reversal of that headline, say, "Fathers React to Biden As the Vice-Presidential Pick." You can't imagine it, I bet, because it's nonsensical. Comparing the two headlines tells us more about the gender norms of this society than this long post can.