Traister on Palin, and Clinton

The pro-woman rhetoric surrounding Sarah Palin’s nomination is a grotesque bastardization of everything feminism has stood for, and in my mind, more than any of the intergenerational pro- or anti-Hillary crap that people wrung their hands over during the primaries, Palin’s candidacy and the faux-feminism in which it has been wrapped are the first development that I fear will actually imperil feminism. Because if adopted as a narrative by this nation and its women, it could not only subvert but erase the meaning of what real progress for women means, what real gender bias consists of, what real discrimination looks like….

It is infuriating that Clinton, her supporters and, yes, also those Obama supporters who voiced their displeasure at the sexist treatment Clinton sometimes received, and also female voters, and also females full stop, are being implicated in feminism’s bastardization.

But if we inadvertently paved the way for this, then the Democratic Party mixed the concrete, painted lanes on the road, put up streetlights and called it an interstate. The role of the left in this travesty is almost too painful to contemplate just yet.

For while it may chafe to hear Rudy Giuliani and John McCain hold forth on the injustice of gender bias, what really burns is that we never heard a peep or squawk or gurgle of this nature from anyone in the Democratic Party during the entire 100 years Hillary Clinton was running for president, while she was being talked about as a pantsuited, wrinkly old crone and a harpy ex-wife and a sexless fat-thighed monster and an emasculating nag out for Tucker Carlson’s balls. Only after she was good and gone did Howard Dean come out of his cave to squeak about the amount of sexist media bias Clinton faced. That may not be pretty to recall, especially in light of the Grand Old Party’s Grand Old Celebration of Estrogen. But it’s true. And it’s also true that if there hadn’t been so much stone-cold silence, so much shoulder-shrugging “What, me sexist?” inertia from the left, if there had been a little more respect (there was plenty of attention, of the derisive and annoyed sort) paid to the unsubtle clues being transmitted by 18 million voters that maybe they were interested in this whole woman-in-the-White-House thing, then the right would not have had the fuel to power this particular weapon.

Which leads us to my greatest nightmare: that because my own party has not cared enough, or was too scared, to lay its rightful claim to the language of women’s rights, that Sarah Palin will reach historic heights of power, under the most egregious of auspices, by plying feminine wiles, and conforming to every outdated notion of what it means to be a woman. That she will hit her marks by clambering over the backs, the bodies, the rights of the women on whose behalf she claims to be working, and that she will do it all under the banner of feminism. How can anybody sleep?

Read the whole thing.

18 thoughts on “Traister on Palin, and Clinton

  1. I can’t, and my mother, staunch feminist that she was till the day she died at almost 97, is churning in her grave….

  2. What keeps running through my head is Catherine MacKinnon’s observation that just because something is written (done, created or whatever) by a woman does not make it feminist.

  3. Thank you for sharing this piece! At least it is articulating what’s keeping me awake at night… How do Republicans keep getting away with all that hypocrisy! My big fear is that McSame & Palin will sail into the White House this fall because, yet again, the Democrats were too whatever to reach the voting masses…

  4. I like the “hypocrisy” link Rachel posted. I especially agree with the response at the bottom, by Roger Schank, although I don’t think the issue is that people don’t know how to think, it’s that way too many of them simply don’t like doing it. Giving them facts and figures often turns them off, and they’d rather act on the basis of more emotional factors, like unexamined but sturdy beliefs.

  5. I understand that the blog posted is a rant and like most rants of venting frustration emotion challenges the truth of facts. Like Hillary clinton has not been running for president for 100 years. I accept that and realize the emotion behind the statement. so I won’t nit pic the blog accuracy.

    I will say this, we can cry about the situation and blame those we had put faith in to carry out the feminist agenda (ie the democrats) or we can Look at the choices before us. reguardless of the reasons that sarah palin has been nominated Consider the simple fact that she is the second female vice presidential candidate (after geraldine ferrraro) . As a feminist you have a chance to get a woman ( very competent person for the job) into the vice presidency of the presidency of the United States. I would not cry because it will be one more example to my daughter that she can do anything she wants to despite the patriarchal bias in society.

    If feminism is to benefit anyone , I want it to benifit my child more than some political advantage.

    If you feel sarah palin is the anti feminism poster child , 1. you haven’t lived in alaska 2. you haven’t read of her acomplishments in “wilderness of patriarchy”. 3. She has proven that a woman can do what a man can but she can convince a whole state that she can. What makes her so different than Pelosi, Hillary or Ferraro?

    Ask your self “Are you putting your politics before feminism?”

  6. I agree, Iga. However, perhaps it’s also that people have just habituated themselves out of thinking. Media does dumbify the masses. I blame too much television watching and not enough book reading as a starter. But then, if they have kids like mine, vegging out at the television is mighty tempting! That said, it’s not a justifiable excuse. The less one uses his/her brain, the more lazy one becomes and it’s just easier to feed off of the emotional centers. Media and politics knows this, and wants it that way.

  7. I will just say this: if we look at the choices before us, they are not in fact limited to McCain/Palin and Obama/Biden. If mere representation is more important than “politics,” and if one actually wants to see a woman in the White House (as opposed to the OEOB, where the VP lives), then one can vote for McKinney/Clemente. A McKinney/Clemente administration would do better by our daughters than a McCain/Palin administration by more than a little. I don’t know where this fits into any supposed distinction between feminism and politics (?) but I’d rather our daughters didn’t have to choose between whatever benefits may accrue them by seeing a woman in the executive branch, and facing down such basic challenges to women’s rights as being forced to pay upwards of $1500 for their own rape kits (cf. today’s political animal post in the washington monthly).

  8. I agree that atleast there will be and is another example of female accomplishment and ambition. the more the merrier for sure. the more women run the more varied the female archetype/ role model will be. however it is not hypocritical and it is not putting politics before feminism/women do decry the fact that a woman who is against women’s rights in important ways is the most powerful female voice we have right now. it is also sad in my opinion one obamas website it states that she makes a point to describe herself as a mother first to her daughters and before that she was daughter to her parents. it then writes off her other roles, implying, you know that they are esteemed but not so substantially important. oh, but being a corporate lawyer was great ’cause that’s how she met obama. oh my. oh my, grow a pair..of ovaries that is.

  9. i agree wholeheartedly with bg….what goes first, politics or feminism??????? why do we always expect more from women???arent we adopting the antifeminist point of view that women have to be perfect? how many perfect male politicias are there?

    palin will be a good role model…..

  10. rovirosa, there’s a huge difference between not being a perfect candidate and being a horrible candidate. Obama is not a perfect candidate. Clinton was not a perfect candidate. Neither was (or is) a horrible candidate. Palin is a horrible candidate.

    I think you and BG are placing an inordinate emphasis on the value Palin would be as a symbol — or at least completely overlooking the disastrous non-symbolic effects a McCain/Palin administration would have on women. It doesn’t matter how much a little girl believes she can be president someday if her parents can’t afford to pay the bills, her school can’t afford to teach her how to read, and climate change destroys the economy before she’s 35.

  11. I have reread my comment and I feel comfortable with it. Rovirosa thank you for the support , mine is just one perspective.

    Noumena, I can agree that no matter what the station in life one holds it is hopefully the best person available to carry out the duties required. I see a lot of politics and spin that is not primarily advocating for the feminist perspective. I didn’t want to nit pic but when you comment that bill clinton wasn’t a horrible president from a feminist perspective I have to respectfully disagree. He was personally abhorent by soliciting sexual conduct as a man in power from an intern whom had none in the oval office and professionally allowed “don’t ask , don’t tell” instead of allowing gays in the military.

    You feel that sarah palin would be horrible for this country and Obama won’t be perfect or horrible. I am not going to say you shouldn’t feel that way. Let me just suggest that there is more to be learned about Obama and Palin. I feel both are great symbols for this country for the oppressed both racial and gender. Ask your self why was Rosa Parks such a notable symbol for civil rights. She had taken a stand against what was wrong.

    Patriarchy still binds women in subtle yet substantial ways. I have more respect for any women that can rise to the top of political life than I would for any man who does the same. Not, because she is a woman but despite the barriers a women faces that men do not. Women face discrimation in many ways from those in power. Sometimes that discrimation comes from women themselves which may be a patriarchal transferance of thought. Consider, Very beautiful women being thought of as dumb or healthy by other women simply based on how they look? Are you judging Sarah Palin because she is Naturally beautiful Using your Power to name her as a horrible candidate. You might as well say Mackinnon is a horrible lawyer. She is another inspirational symbol for my daughter as she too has fought against male powered society just as Sarah Palin has done on principled and ethical grounds not just for women but for all persons.

    I don’t know if i am making sense for you, but I hope it makes you consider an indepent point of view.

  12. I don’t deny that Sarah Palin is an impressively talented human being– she has built a tremendously successful career while raising a large family, and that is undeniably impressive. And it is important for little girls (and everyone else) to see women succeed on that scale. But it’s also important for them to get equal pay for equal work, and to have reproductive freedom, and to have a government committed to fighting violence against women. (Along with all that Noumena cited.) Indeed, it’s more important. We already have some individual women who have achieved big successes. What we need most of all is to change the structures of society so that more people (women and men) have a chance to make a decent life for themselves and their families. That’s why my vote must be decided on the basis of the POLICIES being advocated by the candidates. And that’s why I’m not going to be voting Republican unless there’s some huge overhaul of their platform. And why I don’t think any feminist should be doing that, however much they may admire a particular Republican individual for their individual achievements– policies MATTER.

  13. It seems to me that the article in question is sexist. If a man is assertive and loyal he is OK if a woman is assertive and loyal she is a 8itch.

    On a matter of policies that support Feminists I agree. Palin is touted as a staunch anti-abortionist , yet as governor she refused her republican colleagues request for a special legislation restricting certain abortion procedures
    After the the legislature voted it down.

    she is a person who respects the process of law over her own personal views. Isn’t that what you want from a candidate whether male or female?

    Speaking of abortion. Doesn’t feminism advocate equal rights and responsibilities for everyone. Too often the patriarchal system of control allows irresponsible behavior of men and women to go unchallenged. advocates of Abortion under any circumstances could look at the reasons the pregnancy occured like need for sex education and holding men painfully accountable for their part in the pregnancy, to often women are unfairly saddled with the decision of abortion while men use it as an excuse for irresponsible behavior. The solution for an unwanted pregnancy does not begin with abortion it begins way before conception with education, availability of contraceptives including the morning after pill to give both responsible men and women the freedom to choose. That would be the correct process I would expect from Sarah Palin

    On an issue of economic equality and a mccain palin administration. It appears that Obama pays less to female office staff than to his male office staff ( ) ,

    Now true one could argue the equal pay necessitates equal work , but why then doesn’t obama have more women on his staff? In governor Sarah Palins staff a women is the highest paid member. Palin Cut wasteful state spending and literally gave it back to the families of Alaska. She has seen a need for social services in alaska and lobbied congress for the funds.

    aren’t these the policies you want for feminist, responsibility, equity, financial advocacy and sound policies that bring not just change but change for the better for all responsible men and women to have the choice to have the rights for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

  14. BG, the NYT article isn’t criticising Palin for being either assertive or loyal. It’s criticising her for being a corrupt public official — refusing to release information to the public, using city money for her personal use, giving personal friends positions of power and authority within the Alaskan executive branch, refusing to meet with other elected officials, etc. All together, it paints a decisive picture of a public official who certainly does not respect the process of law over her own personal views. And to say that there’s a double standard motivating this article isn’t to say that its assertions are false — it’s just to demand that the media pay more attention to corrupt male public officials.

    As for abortion: the Arizona Republican [ie, McCain] not only favors overturning the Roe v. Wade decision and curtailing abortion rights but is also opposed to requiring contraceptive coverage by health plans and favors abstinence-only sex education. So a McCain/Palin administration, and the Supreme Court justices he appoints, would provide exactly the opposite of the solution of which you’re in favour.

    Finally, on economic equality, the first link you site contains a criticism of the second link — the claim that Obama pays his female office staff less than his male staff is a misleading use of statistics. And recall that McCain is opposed to a bill that would allow victims of pay discrimination to sue for redress.

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