Saturday, October 4, 2008

Don't ask me, I'm just a girl!

Of course, I must comment on Thursday night's debate. And Sarah Palin was actually successful-- in making me miss Hillary Clinton.

I have always been steadfastly in the "I don't trust Hillary" camp, but on Thursday night I realized how much she has done (and could still do) for the idea of Woman, and how thoroughly she was derided for it.

She was blasted for being a ball-breaker, made the subject of many sexual/sexist jokes, and generally portrayed as an ice queen. This is partly due to her political slickness, but also because she never toed the societal line and just acted like a woman.

Sarah Palin's performance on Thursday wasn't the fantastic failure I was hoping for, so much as it was a perfect curtsey. She stuck to the script and carried it out, but did not dare to break form and actually be her own person.

Her cutesy, submissive yet scolding tone was completely insulting. Perhaps that is how they debate in PTA meetings, but this was the real thing: a debate between two mature adults on serious issues. Rather than actually forget about gender roles for a moment, she made a sexist mockery of herself and thus undermined her own attempt to prove her leadership abilities.

There are several possible factors contributing to this, and I do not think any one specifically contributed to her behavior. Rather, I think of it more as a Perfect Storm:
  • she turned the Folksy dial up to 11 in order to play well with her fan base
  • intimidation-- it's easier to couch disagreement in cuteness rather than actually confront someone, demonstrating that she does not have command of the actual facts nor is she used to debating
  • the Mom factor-- makes decisions without accountability. Remember the universal Mother defense: Because I said so. The Mom factor gives the appearance of power without actually giving power, and thus is actually a submissive stance.
That might just be the way she is as well.

Rather than spoil her darling image, she did not actually rise to the occasion and give a debate. By debating, she could come off as too fierce and thus unfeminine (Hillary nutcracker anyone? On sale!), destroying the Republican attempts to brand her differently from Clinton. Women are allowed to be ambitious, but only allowed to play defense. And if there's one thing you can say about Hillary, it's that she played offense.

Now let's forget all our troubles with a big bowl of strawberry ice cream.

No comments: