(8 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
Like everyone else, I've been mesmerized for the last few hours by the spectacle of Sarah Palin's selection as John McCain's running mate. A few known facts about her are repeated…over and over. And over. But there's something I'm starting to see…and it's really pissing me off. So you get…more outrage. Our currency and gift.
Look…here's the deal. She's 44. She's inexperienced. She's a right winger who sounds suspiciously like GWB, right down to the clichés and mumbling about teaching creationism along with evolution in science classrooms. She's anti-choice, seemingly not a stunningly apt administrator, the very definition of a partially educated, morally stunted republican tool.
And she's an attractive woman, by the standards of our time and place.
Now here's the thing guys…and this is mostly to the guys…if not entirely. We're in a heated political environment on a planet with 6+ billion people and the technology to make life hell, or end it. Or make it pretty good, for that matter (let's not forget that part). It pretty much seems like anything goes, especially against some privileged person who seems to have the moral consistency of a rotting cheese pizza.
Please…I beg of you…guess again.
The only bumper sticker I have recently considered putting on my car is the following: "Feminism: the radical notion that women are human beings." I laugh every damn time I see it. (But then I laugh at "Save the planet: kill yourself" too.) It is an undeniably radical notion, in 2008, that women are human beings, as humanity is privileged and measured and valued in the world. I used to be a boy and I know these things; the boy gets the first ice cream cone, and the girl gets her posture corrected. Whether it is a patriarchal system evolved from some vast cultural schism, the biology of naked house monkeys, or an interwingled sloshing of power and experience across biology and culture, I do not know. I do know that if we aspire to any of our ideas of a just society, it's something we owe it to ourselves and the people around us to address.
There are stories being told by the way we live, by the way we speak, by the way we engage the world; and those stories mean something, they really do. How we tell those stories changes us, in what we talk about next, in how we learn to anticipate the world and describe it. What men and women are, to each other and to themselves. So here's a sort of idea. A set of guidelines, in fact, like all such things both too vague and too prescriptive.
- If you want to talk about how hot she is, try to deconstruct hot. Ideally you'd also deconstruct yourself, to some appropriately recognizable level (legos are nice).
- Compare and Contrast was something I'm sure Sarah had to do an awful lot of, since I had to do it, and the Alaska, Washington and Idaho curricula do not diverge too much. And she's my age (oh god). It's a fraught exercise if you're not very clear about why you think the contrast is interesting, either implicitly or explicitly. And I think that's rule 2: imagine Sarah Palin's undiscovered twin sister, who works as a microbiology researcher in the Amazon basin, collecting rare bugs and plants ten miles ahead of the clear cuts. She lives with her partner Greta (don't get carried away here) and they do LGBT outreach and dialog with a range of traditional cultures, speaking fluently in each group’s native language, plus Portuguese, French, and English. Greta is a musician and Sarah's Good Twin is a brilliant theoretician in an obtuse corner of topology, for which she is renowned worldwide. Simply insert the good twin into your pllanned broadside (said Good Twin looks JUST LIKE the running mate twin), and ask yourself if the portion of your rhetoric which is about gender has in any way changed. This is actually more fun if you think she's hot, but possibly a lot more useful if you don't. Are you willing to say it about good twin? Really? Why or why not?
- Don't assume she's stupid until she does something stupid we can make fun of. Every politician does that eventually. More importantly, don't use a gendered characteristic as a measure of her intelligence. There will be a wealth of things about her which we can come to despise in the coming months. Don't just grab something gendered and run with it. Gendered humor can be weightless in some company but it's a really icky way to establish territory. If you say something dumb about her being a chick, all the chicks will be like, looking sideways at it the whole time and you'll need to get a tarp later. I trust this woman implicitly to seem utterly ridiculous. The best ammunition will be gifts….
- "Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke' almost always depends on the joke (with apologies for the plagiarist larceny to the boss). Think about it.
- It is often advantageous to strip political figures of their dignity, but since we're all scared to death we're going to loose ours, that morning at work when we show up in black socks, and a collar, stark naked…the day which is coming to us all, each alone and absurd…it is just possible that attacks on the most basic dignity can backfire. Not always. But, like, it works better as art. A giant naked Sarah Pallin Thanksgiving Balloon would be awesome. Her face next to some other woman's mug, making a derogatory comparison between them…not so much. Really.
Well five is enough for now. Next time I have wine with dinner I'll kick in five more, or delete this thing in shame. But that, my friends, is for another day.