Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sarah Palin: Stop the lies; stop the misogyny

Written by Heart, crossposted from Women's Space

Tami's note: I am a liberal and unlike Heart, I am a registered Democrat. I can find a gazillion policy- and idealogy-related reasons not to like Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. And I am offended that John McCain thinks women followed Hillary Clinton not for her platform or experience, but because "Hey! She's got lady parts!" and that supporters can easily transfer their support to someone else whose views are the polar opposite of everything Hillary Clinton stands for 'cause "Hey! She's got lady parts, too!" If you doubt my liberal bonafides, just read the rest of the blog. I don't have much use for McCain or his running mate.

But I'm appalled at how Sarah Palin is being covered in the media and on so-called progressive blogs. I've heard less about Palin's governing history (what little of it there is) and Troopergate, than I have about her mothering skills, beauty queen past and her daughter's pregnancy. Smells like a heap of sexism. Like I said yesterday, we folks on the left had best watch that we don't become the thing we say we hate.

But wait...Heart can say it better than I can.

I’ve never in my life of 56 years, not a single time, voted for a Republican. Neither have I ever voted for a conservative of any stripe. This includes during all of the years I was a Christian and during all of my “Quiverfull” years. Throughout my adult life, going back to my college days in the late 60s, early 70s, I have always been some kind of anarchist. When I was young, I was a Julian Beck, Ivan Illich, Emma Goldman style anarchist. As a member of the conservative Christian community, I was a Christian anarchist and student of Walter Wink. As a homesteader and small farmer, I was (and still am) a decentralist (a kind of anarchist) along the lines of Ralph Borsodi and E.F. Shumacher. When I published my magazine, it was listed as a (vetted) resource in the anarchist publication, Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed. As a feminist, I’ve always been an anarchafeminist, believing anarchy is the theory and radical feminism is the practice, with sheroes like the Free Women of Spain of the 1930s. As an anarchist, I have always rejected mainstream politics and voting preferring direct action and organizing instead. It’s not only my politics and philosophies that have made me an anarchist, it’s also my disgust over the way U.S. mainstream, party politics makes shills, hypocrites, tools and liars out of virtually everyone who really participates in them. My experience is that women of integrity who are committed to women’s rights, human rights, and the values and ethos of love, compassion and nonviolence almost always steer similarly clear. The ugliness of party politics as they have historically and traditionally existed simply runs too deep. The disillusion watching as colleagues and (theoretical) allies descend into the ugliness ultimately themselves is too great and too discouraging. And, there is far too much good that each woman can do by instead becoming involved, again, in direct action and organizing and far too little good that ever comes out of giving time and energy to the swamp that is American politics as usual. If there ever was a bucket with a hole in it, that’s it.

So I’m reading about the newly-named Republican Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, and following the responses of Democrats, leftists and progressives on the blogosphere. They disgust me. They remind me of every last reason I ever had to stay severely away from party politics in particular, and the mainstream political arena in general. I am not writing, in other words, out of any sort of history with, loyalty to or defensiveness towards either mainstream party or candidate, neither Republicans nor Democrats. I am saying as someone who has rejected this swamp that what is happening at the moment to Sarah Palin and to her teenage daughter is disgusting. That feminists and progressives lead the way in this disgusting behavior is incredible.

Jeff Fecke blogging on Alas:

Palin is the “any boobs will do” pick to the nth degree.

From Open Left (via Shakesville, who, go Shakes, has begun a sexism watch on Palin’s behalf):

How is she going to campaign full time with a baby? Is that any way to treat your child? Can she handle the VP duties and also raise a baby, a 7 year old, and a 13 year old? My friends, please welcome the Mayor of Wasilla and her eskimo First Gentleman.
From Daily Kos

[Responding to a widely-circulated photo of Palin in a short skirt and heels]

My goodness, she certainly doesn’t look pregnant in this picture either. Could this be the picture they kept showing old McShame as a reminder of who Sarah Palin was? Did one of his handlers perhaps suggest to ole grampa McBush3 that perhaps, if he was very nice to her, she would dress this way for executive conferences on campaign matters? Maybe suggest she might make it worth Jonny’s while to pick her?

First thing I thought of was “I got 99 problems but my bitch ain’t one”.
Posted by blogger BoBo2020 on Daily Kos:

44. There’s already Sarah Palin GILF merchandise.


Anyone here know what MILF* means?

Oh someone else knows, I was afraid I was the only one who picked up on the GILF thing. She’s 5x MILF, not just merely GILF. and really proud of that mommy part.

…she participated in some very bizarre behavior in her 8th month of pregnancy, boarding a plane after experiencing amniotic fluid leakage, when she’d already had 4 deliveries. Her 5th could have presented itself well within the window of her 8 hour flight, which probably involved a total of 10-12 hours door to door. Once the amniotic fluid is leaking, the clock is ticking, the baby is at risk by about 24 hours. Say what you will about her personal life, this behavior is strange in the extreme, may have involved her airline and doctor in legal trouble, and demands some kind of accounting for.
From Pandagon:

She’s only 44. I’d wonder what she’s using for birth control, but of course she’s using the natural method, or abstaining, right? (Discussion then ensues speculating as to Palin’s birth control and sexual practices, with Amanda Marcotte participating.)
Marcotte then writes an entire post announcing that Palin’s 17-year-old daughter is pregnant and keeping the baby. The point seems to be that whoopee! Palin’s a bad mother! Yay, team! That will really come in handy! After all, it’s a no-brainer that the mothers of pregnant teenagers who keep their babies are bad mothers.

Amanda in the comments:

Most people would think it’s worse for a 17-year-old to get married and have a baby than have sex without “consequences”. It’s unfair to the daughter, but this is going to confirm suspicions that Palin is an extreme right wing nut.
Then this from Marcotte, defending the inexcusable intrusions into Palin’s daughter’s privacy:

Yeah, I haven’t seen an ugly word anywhere against Bristol Palin. 17-year-olds get knocked up. It happens. It happens especially to those who have parents who refuse to educate them or help them access contraception.
17-year-olds “get” ”knocked up”? And it’s all the parents’ fault, woohoo, we get to use the Bad Mom card against Palin? Where are the boys and the men in all of this precisely? Why is this open season on a 17-year-old girl, or girls or women just in general?

Does anybody recall birth control practices, birth stories, the adequacy of parenting or the possibility of having more children ever having been an issue so far as any male presidential or vice presidential candidate, ever, other than favorably? Does anybody get it that that is sexist? And misogynist? Every bit as sexist and misogynist and “colluding” as Republicans and their shills are sexist and misogynist and colluding? This is why I want nothing to do with these parties or these campaigns, whether Republican or Democrat, whether (apparently) leftist, progressive, feminist, or right-wing and conservative. The real issues go unaddressed, and women are relentlessly and unapologetically attacked in the most sexist and misogynist of ways.
Above are a very few of thousands of examples I could post, as you can gather for yourselves by going to Daily Kos and simply looking through the titles of the journals over the past several days. Or check out the photos of Palin that even feminist bloggers have chosen to use. I don’t support the Republicans and I sure as hell am not voting for McCain, that’s not what this post is about. Neither am I any kind of PUMA, never have been, never will be, just like I’ve never been a Democrat or a Republican. I am a candidate for President on the Free Soil Party ticket. This post is about what this election continues to reveal about the deep sexism and misogyny of most Americans, and about the way it goes unnoticed, unremarked, unaddressed and is even celebrated by the majority, including leftists, progressives, Democrats, and unbelievably, feminists.


lee said...

Thank you! So true. It's really bad.

For a sound seeming Alaskan take on her political career thus far, I liked: http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/09/an-wasillan-on.html#more

And Susie Bright never disappoints.


ac said...

Yeah, yeah and the pictures, the photoshopped ones, are even worse. God forbid an intelligent woman actually be attractive, because then we have to sexualize her. Geez.

I could see discussing some of the aspects of the youngest child and the pregnancy back when they was some theory that the child was actually her daughter's due to the hypocrisy of such a scenario, as it relates to her political beliefs. But since the clarification came out I've considered the topic irrelevant to the political debate.

Sadly many of the blog posts and articles out there seem to veer sharply from the political debate and into base gossip and rampant sexism just as you have so accurately observed. I'm sorry to say it doesn't surprise me to see Marcotte up in it, I'm really not sure why she is considered a feminist - someone will have to explain that to me someday.

There is plenty to "bash" Palin with without once again delving back into these murky waters. Such as her dangerously low level of experience and some of her alleged sheninigans in just the short time she has been in the Governor's office. Sigh must we discuss the lady parts? I'm just going to avoid reading Palin posts, and their comments, for a few days to see if some of this vitirol dies down.

MacDaddy said...

I think the hypocrisy the left is showing in their comments is very dangerous. It could backfire on us by making Palin a victim, thereby causing Republicans to close ranks and rally to her side and the McCain-Palin ticket.

I agree with Obama: leave family members out of politics.

Tami said...

You know, watching the Palin coverage, I've been reminded of the Ani DiFranco song "32 Flavors" that I posted a week or so ago. One lyric goes:

and god help you if you are an ugly girl
course too pretty is also your doom
cause everyone harbors a secret hatred
for the prettiest girl in the room
and god help you if you are a phoenix
and you dare to rise up from the ash
a thousand eyes will smolder with jealousy
while you are just flying past

Clinton = too old and pantsuity

Palin = too pretty and beauty queeny

...so the rabble say, anyway.

First of all, only female politicos are judged by how well they fit into society's narrow and silly definition of beauty. Second, you're damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

Anonymous said...

I think the vicious treatment of both Palin and Clinton IS sexism, and we will break down the doors of sexism but putting all these women in office. It would be the final revenge against the liberal left men whom I hate with a passion, and it would be a cruel irony that the people on the right actually support women candidates.

Feminists fight for the advancement of women, but conservatives actually appoint women to office as a result of feminist movemments. Liberal men like Obama make the safe choices of the same old guard, and I find this very telling indeed. Change indeed.

If the sexist creeps who keep at this with Palin long enough, they will simply make her a more sympathetic person. We'll see how that sexist idiot Joe Biden deals with her in the debates. I don't think these men are able to not see women as inferiors. It's in their DNA.

Heart said...

Thanks for posting this, Tami, and thanks for all the good comments. I agree with the commenter who said what the Left is doing is really dangerous. It's weird, with this amount of coverage, you'd think it was Palin who was the Presidential candidate! I mean, when have we ever seen this level of reaction to a VP candidate?! Although I can certainly find plenty of fault with what Palin believes and stands for, the real issue is JOHN McCAIN and what he stands for and what the Republican party stands for. As inured as I am to this stuff, even I have had feelings like, "Damn, I feel like voting for her just because!" Then I think, wait, that would be voting for JOHN McCAIN! Which is why, again, this stuff really is so dangerous.

And so true, Tami, re the hatred for the pretty girl in the room! She earns a specific kind of venom that we are sure having to deal with in this instance.

Anonymous said...


Usually I agree with you, but this time I think you are wrong. Republicans keep on changing the rules and Dems lack a backbone. Repubs are saying that pointing out Palin's lack of experience is off limits. Are they serious. We have too much at stake to sit by and let McCain/Palin's ideology to come to fruition. I agree with: http://auntjemimasrevenge.blogspot.com/

MacDaddy said...

"I think the vicious treatment of both Palin and Clinton IS sexism, and we will break down the doors of sexism but putting all these women in office."
anon: No disrespect, but I think this is faulty thinking. As a worker and the head of my own consulting business, I've seen too many women destroy other women to climb to the top to say elect women and things will be alright. What does it matter, really, if a woman or man, black or white, is elected to an office and their for creationism, for more handguns, hunt down bears and wolves, against stem research and against choice?

And to say feminists fight for women and conservatives elect women into office is simplistic and inaccurate. As I recall, President Clinton appointed quite a few women during his term. So did Carter; and I'm not just talking about the Supreme Court of the cabinet. I'm talking appellate courts as well. We should be used to white guys in power attempting to appease women or people of color by appointing token "spooks who sit by the door" while continuing to oppress the rest of us.

Tami said...


I agree with MacDaddy that John McCain appointing Sarah Palin to the Veep spot is certainly not an indicator of his belief that women matter. A man that believes women matter votes in favor of the equal pay for women and avoids calling his wife a c***. This is tokenism. It is what the powers that be have been doing to women and racial minorities for eons. And, sadly, it works, because there are women right now ready to jump on the McCain bandwagon despite his regressive policies regarding women...and...well, everything.

Anon 2 (or 3),

Palin's inexperience is not off limits. Her policies are not off limits. Her far right, fanatical idealogy is not off limits. There is no reason why the media and the left and anyone else should not be vetting Palin in the same way they vetted Joe Biden, Barack Obama, John McCain, Fred Thompson and whatever male candidate you can name. We just need to leave the sexism out of it. For instance, not one of those men was ever challenged about how he could be a good father and run for higher office. Sarah Palin should not be challenged on that either.

Anonymous said...

Exactly MacDaddy - Can you say Clarence Thomas. Do you realize that if McCain/Palin are elected, we will have at least two more Thomases on the Supreme Court. Let the Conservatives defend her.

We need to stay focused on what is really important - Iraq, the economy and the things that affect our daily lives. Like Thomas, Palin is the face of affirmative action for the Republican Party and I Do No Want.

Alaska needs Palin and she needs to go back there.

Oh, and of course hand wringing only occurs when there is misogyny against (white) women. The same women who cannot bring themselves to defend Michele Obama, are now worrying about Palin who called Hillary a whiner.


Same anonymous as 3:11.

Anonymous said...


When they use her heading the PTA as part of the justification for her executive experience and play up her role as a mother of five. The Republicans actually said that she has more experience than Barack because she had to juggle being mayor then governor with being a mother. They cannot have it both ways. They are touting her as a mother and using that as part of her experience, therefore, her being a mother is fair game. We can ask the questions about her possibly becoming president (72 y/o McCain) and how she plans to juggle that with young children. We can also discuss what went wrong with her parenting experience Don't put your pregnant daughter on stage if you do not want her discussed.

Her looks - agreed - no place, but John Edwards was viewed as a light weight and did get some flack becasue of the way he looks.

Republicans = hypocrites and Sarah Palin is the poster woman.

I Do No Want a McCain/Palin administration.

Let the Republicans defend her - we have an election to win.

Adam said...


First time beer drinker at this tavern.

I am a 34 year old white male, liberal Republican and Independent at times, happily married to woman of color for nearly 13 years and we have three children. I live just 3 hours south of Obama's residence in Chicago.

I find your treatment (and those of the commenters) of this subject somewhat refreshing as I have seen and read nothing but filth, profanity, and some of the worst strands of sexism oozing on the internet and media outlets.

This election has ushered in many discussions about privilege, gender, race, and religion. Some of them good, many of them detestable. Even among the four individuals running for the highest offices we find that there is a wide range of different economic and cultural experiences.

Of the many discussions taking place, one thing I think is absent is whether or not age should be an appropriate factor in someone's decision to vote. Politics and ideology put aside, should we consider a person's age? How old is too old?

The reason I bring this up is because I do see age discrimination in coworkers who are 20 years older than me. It seems to be one of those forms of discrimination that is not worthy of the same "air time", but nonetheless rampant in so many sectors of our society. Age is certainly brought up now and then, but it is not the hot issue that gender or race is.

I work for a Fortune 50 company that employs 75,000 people from every walk of life. I do not know how many discussions I have had over coffee with older coworkers who have been slighted out jobs (seemingly) because of age.

On the flipside, maybe our country takes some comfort in having an older, experienced, somewhat wrinkled, patriarchal type male in charge (like Ronald Reagan, Clarence Thomas, McCain, Biden, etc.)

Any thoughts?

Please advise if this is derailing from your discussion and I can save this for another time. ; )


Tami said...


I think age discrimination definitely happens--more so for older people. On the other hand, I think for positions of power like POTUS people tend to favor senior, white males. McCain gets jabs about his age, but Obama (at 47) is called an unqualified kid.


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