Holy Crap! She’s My Age

(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.

  1. 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).
  2. 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?
  3. 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….
  4. "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.
  5. 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.


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    • jessical on August 30, 2008 at 7:44 am

    …embarassed in the morning.

  1. …may I humbly request that one of our editors front-page this at the appropriate time?

  2. …or both wearing identical outfits and not wearing make up…

    …only then, I think, my rhetoric would change.

    So I guess I have to confess to judging on the basis of these superficial things.  But somehow, I’m becoming more and more unclear on the concept, which keeps regressing, like the horizon.  And I don’t think that is really about gender anyway…

    Simply insert the good twin (who 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.


    • Edger on August 30, 2008 at 11:29 am

    I don’t find her “hot” at all or even attractive. I suppose everybody has different “tastes” but that vacuous grin and empty eyed look she wears in most of the photos I’ve seen of her just doesn’t do it for me. And while she may not be “stupid” in many senses, subscribing to creationism in my opinion is one of the stupidest things anyone could do, although it is a short term smart thing and a long term stupid thing (rejection of thinking, reasoning, and critical thinking cannot be anythin but stupid) for McCain to use. His campaign needed an infusion of cash since he’s been spendind like a drunken sailor to keep it rolling and his choosing her has already started the money rolling in from the nutbar fringe of pseudochristianity through endorsement by James Dobson.

    McCain stands a very high chance because of his age of becoming incapacitated or dying in the next 8 years.

    Imagine Sarah Palin as President. Imagine Sarah Palin’s supreme court appointments.

    Hot? Smart? Blegh. Got any airsick bags?

  3. that she isn’t very bright, well she’s been smart enough to position herself well. I am not into her politics but perhaps she is already accustomed to people underestimating her? Republicans do not corner the market on sexism. Sometimes actually…… they are more honest about it.

    Nice piece Jess.

  4. That is part of it, obviously.  But it’s more the return of the plastic people  (h/t Frank Zappa):

    (Ladies and Gentlemen…

    The President of the United States!

    “Fellow Americans…Doot, Doot, Doot…”

    He’s been sick!–Doot! Doot!

    And I think his wife is gonna bring him some chicken soup)

    Plastic people!

    Oh, baby, now you’re such a drag

    (I know it’s hard to defend an unpopular policy

    Every once in a while– )

    Plastic people!

    Oh, baby, now you’re such a drag

    (There’s this guy from the CIA he’s creeping around Laurel Canyon…)

    A fine little girl, she waits for me

    She’s as plastic as she can be

    She paints her face with plastic goo

    And wrecks her hair with some shampoo

    Plastic people

    Oh, baby, now you’re such a drag

    She’s an example of what I suspect is across the great cultural divide, one of the many people I have nothing at all in common with.  So I see her as yet another odd, frustrating manifestation of the culture war.  Put another way, she’s a “daughter” of Phyllis Schlafly.  

  5. what you’re saying jessical. And I’ve seen the insidious sexism in how we’re evaluating Palin already as well.

    But for me, the thing that is the most alarming about McCain’s choice of her for VP is not about her so much as what it says about McCain’s sexism. And who better to point that out than Samantha Bee on TDS.

    • robodd on August 30, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    I don’t know what her qualifications or political capabilities are.  I don’t equate being in the beltway with being qualified in any way, shape or form.  Just the opposite.  I don’t even consider being in the beltway to be “experience.”  I consider that to be a measure of how out of touch you are.

    I do know that she appears to be a fundie.  Anti-Science, Anti-personal rights, Pro-Creationist, extreme cultural right.  That is scary.  That is the story.  Not how she looks.

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