Monday, November 10, 2008

Today's Television Quote

It's from yesterday, actually, and it was jotted down so the quote may not be exact, but the meaning is worth discussing:

Juan Williams

"Power Panel"

Fox New Sunday


"I would think that feminists would be up in arms about the way
Sarah Palin has been treated."

Feminists would be up in arms and nobody else? That's the old assumption that when someone thinks a woman somewhere is treated badly, it's time to pick up the phone: "Feminist cleanup team to Aisle 8". The rest of human beings have no obligations about this at all, not other women and certainly not men. It's a very entertaining aspect of our public political discussions. The status quo, the mainstream view, is that we can bash women as women and that it's perfectly acceptable.

There are days when I wonder why nobody else sees how ridiculous that is, especially given the large budget feminists have for working on behalf of that majority of world's people. And given the fact that at other times the same people who are using that pink courtesy phone (to call up the feminist cleaning crew) spend a lot of time bashing feminism as a movement. Yet all that keeps them in the mainstream.

Then to the whole question of how Sarah Palin was treated. How am I to evaluate that, given that most of her political views are anti-women and that she did say some really stupid things? That's tricky. Ideally, I'd have data on several politicians, both men and women, who have similar political agendas and who say similar things and then I'd compare the public reaction to these.

Alas, I don't have such data. Neither do I have any real way of knowing which of those Republican campaign leaks are true stories and which are not. All I have are my own impressions about the way Palin has been ridiculed and in what contexts, and my guess is that some percentage of the anger she has caused indeed is a sexist kind of anger, a wonderful opportunity to really attack a woman in public without getting any of the PC police to give you a ticket for it. What percentage that might be I can't tell.

Take, for instance, this:

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has received her first job offer since failing in her bid to become vice president of the United States, and it comes with a large cash offer. Florida-based porn director Cezar Capone has offered to pay Palin $2 million to appear in an adult film production.

Capone, who calls himself "the king of all MILF films," promises in an open letter on his website that the film would be distributed internationally, shot in high definition, and feature a "beautiful mother recognized by all of America.... as the most desirable woman over 40."

This is not the only example of connecting Palin with porn. Whenever those examples are brought up in various chat groups the liberal/progressive reaction is to find them funny. The feminist reaction would be to point out that even a woman running for the Vice President of the United States is first and foremost, a body for fucking. The response to that would be that she was running as a body for fucking so she deserves this.

The other examples I've seen are about Palin's presumed inability to cook meals for her family and about her being a very bad mother. The latter crops up all over the place, even in feminist chats, and the basic idea is that she should first of all be taking care of her own family. If her gender was reversed we wouldn't have heard much about this at all, because Todd (Toddita?) would be assumed to be taking care of the children.

It's a mess, from a feminist point of view, because we are asked to defend a woman whose policies are not good for women, we are asked to defend a woman who was one of the FIRSTS, one of that group who is supposed to be much better than the average person in an occupation, and she was not picked on those grounds. Yet mostly we got no acknowledgment of the FIRST quality in this election, we chicks. What we got, instead, was such a spewing of viciousness about both Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin that I'd be not at all surprised if no woman would run for the next hundred years. That might very well be the exact intended effect.

On the other hand, Palin's candidacy forced the right-wing Christians to support a career woman with young children at home. That, indeed, might be an odd victory for feminism, one of the very few that we can take home from this campaign year.