How in the hell is Sarah Palin more conservative than Mike Huckabee?

Friday, February 4th, 2011 · 21 Comments »

At first glance you probably think this is your basic Hertzsprung–Russell diagram showing the stars plotted by magnitude and spectral type. As predicted, Mitt Romney is a blue giant (I think I’m going to start calling him Rigel) while Sarah Palin is a G-type main sequence star. No, wait! That’s not what this diagram is at all! You know what it is? It’s a diagram of how women’s rights play absolutely no role in the mental calculations of your average political dude—in this case, Nate Silver.

Silver places Sarah Palin to the right of Mike Huckabee in this diagram because, as he claims, “voters see [Huckabee] as more moderate than Ms. Palin, especially on economic issues.” Really? What voters, Nate? You and your imaginary friend?

First of all, if there is any daylight between Huckabee and Palin on economic issues, I’m not seeing it. But in terms of social issues—you know, basic human rights for women, that kind of thing—Huckabee is so far to the right he’s red-shifted.

I’ve covered this ground before, but let’s review a few key points:

  • Mike Huckabee believes that God put women on earth to be subordinate and subservient to men. Unlike Sarah Palin, who explicitly embraces gender equality as a “conservative feminist,” Huckabee believes that women are the inferior sex.
  • Mike Huckabee believes that contraception should be illegal. Illegal. Sarah Palin, of course, is strongly in favor of contraception.
  • Mike Huckabee wants the Constitution to be rewritten to reflect “God’s word.” I’ve never heard anything like this from Palin. (And besides, we know she doesn’t think “God’s word” means women are inferior.)
  • Mike Huckabee thinks homosexuals are dangerous deviants and that people with HIV should be sequestered in concentration camps. Palin is against gay marriage but is comfortable with homosexuality; like Obama, she has said she thinks civil unions are sufficient.

Sarah Palin is a conservative godbag for sure, but Mike Huckabee makes her look like Che Guevara.

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Ms. Magazine refers to Palin as “Caribou Barbie”

Friday, January 28th, 2011 · 31 Comments »

Here:

Since the attempt on Congresswoman Giffords’ life called to mind the ghastly and vicious intolerance that has come to describe American political discourse (no, I’m not blaming Caribou Barbie’s insane target map, though there’s a reason why she popped into everyone’s head when the catastrophe happened), I thought I might use the public’s positive reaction to 1001 Inventions as an example of tolerance.

The magazine that used to be the voice of feminism is now apparently the voice of selective sexism. It’s the Amanda Marcotte school of faux feminism: misogyny is fine and great—to be encouraged, even—as long as it’s directed at women we don’t like.

Disgusting, disgusting, disgusting.

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Palin (and Clinton) obsessives suddenly discover that violent discourse is a bad thing

Sunday, January 9th, 2011 · 165 Comments »
Visitors to an exhibit in New York are invited to play at shooting Sarah Palin with a rifle.  October 2008.

Visitors to an exhibit in New York are invited to play at shooting Sarah Palin with a rifle. October 2008.

That Keith Olberman is a piece of work, isn’t he? This is the guy who suggested in 2008 that Hillary Clinton be discreetly murdered in order to get her out of the way. Now he has a Special Comment® devoted to the message that “violence, or the threat of violence, has no place in our democracy.” I agree, but where were you in 2008, dude?

That’s right. He was busy calling for Hillary Clinton’s death and then, when Clinton was over, foaming at the mouth about Sarah Palin. Lots of people were foaming at the mouth about Sarah Palin. There was the “art” exhibit in New York inviting people to play at shooting her with a rifle. She was hung in effigy in Los Angeles. Sandra Bernhardt said she should be raped, and not a few other people gleefully called for her death.

Palin hung in effigy outside a West Hollywood home.  October 2008.

Palin hung in effigy in Los Angeles. October 2008.

Was there any outrage about this at the time? Only from people like me, who were running around with our hair on fire, screaming to our allegedly “progressive” brethren and sistren “UR DOIN IT WRONG!!!!!” Everybody else seemed to think it was just fine. After all, Sarah Palin really did deserve to be raped and murdered and shot and lynched because she’s a foul cunt who needs to die, so what was wrong with saying so? Lighten up, bitch. What are you, a secret Republican?

So I find it somewhat ironic that now, in the wake of the tragic Arizona shooting, Sarah Palin is being held responsible for the violence of our political discourse—which everyone now agrees is a terrible thing. She is specifically being held responsible for what happened in Arizona, and why? Because her PAC’s midterm election strategy map from a year ago used crosshairs icons to indicate the targeted districts:

SarahPAC map.

SarahPAC map.

That’s pretty goddamn underwhelming if you ask me. Strategy maps like that are routine; everybody has them. Everybody uses some kind of target icon: bulls-eyes, whatever. Like this one from the DLC:

DLC map.

DLC map.

Frankly, the crosshairs on the SarahPAC map don’t even strike me as particularly sinister or even unusual. For pete’s sake, I have a crosshairs icon that came with the package I bought for my Java map-building program. I thought it was supposed to represent a camera sight. Even if the crosshairs were intended to be all gun-happy and threatening, we’re still talking about an obscure map from a year ago that I bet you a million dollars almost nobody before yesterday had even seen, and that includes the Arizona shooter.

But people will say, oh, forget the map. It’s not just the map. It’s the whole wingnut/Tea Party rhetoric. Isn’t that dangerous? Doesn’t that poison fragile minds?

Well, yes, it does. This particular guy in Arizona doesn’t seem to be plugged in to that scene at all, but on general principles, yes, the rightwing “take back the country” hysteria is dangerous and bad. But forgive me for pointing out that on the Violence Is Totally Appropriate And To Be Encouraged meter, Tea Party rhetoric doesn’t even come close to the good clean fun of hanging political women in effigy or pretending to shoot them or publicly calling for them to be raped and murdered.

But still, people will say, no matter what happened in the past (and watch for folks to backpeddle furiously and claim that they certainly never endorsed or even snickered at the Kill Palin stuff), the issue is that today’s wingnut/Tea Party rhetoric is dangerous, and Sarah Palin is responsible for it. She is, according to one overwrought comment I saw on Facebook, the “focus of evil in this country.”

To which I say: oh for fuck’s sake, people. Get a fucking grip. Climb out of your own asshole, take a course in Feminism 101, and buy a goddamn clue as to what is really going on. Sarah Palin is a Republican. That’s all. She’s just a silly rightwing Republican. The country’s crawling with them. Look, they’re all around you! They’re your county supervisors, state senators, congresspeople, governors, and former presidents. Remember Bush? Remember Reagan? Sarah Palin didn’t invent any of this stuff. She didn’t invent any of the ideas or any of the rhetoric. She certainly didn’t invent extremist violence, nor does she seem to be in any way connected with that kind of thing. She’s just an ordinary idiot Republican who believes ordinary idiot Republican things, like the millions of other ordinary idiot Republicans in this country.

What is it about her that’s so special? What could it possibly be that makes this utterly ordinary idiot Republican somehow a billion times worse than all the rest?

I’ll give you a hint: Hillary Clinton. The political right in this country spent much of the 90s and 00s obsessed with Hillary Clinton in the same way that the political left is now obsessed with Sarah Palin. To normal, rational, self-aware people (which is to say, to feminists over the age of 40), Hillary Clinton was simply a middle-of-the-road Democrat, the junior Senator from New York, an intelligent and capable politician. To the right, and to misogynists on the left, she was the focus of evil in the modern world. She was personally responsible for just about everything bad that happened, from Vince Foster’s death to the invasion of Iraq. If you weren’t exposed to the kind of rhetoric that was floating around in those days, it would be easy to underestimate it. But believe me, it was mind-boggling in its irrationality. The obsession with the woman, the fear and loathing of her, was beyond anything I’d ever seen.

Until Sarah Palin came along. Palin is the left’s Hillary Clinton. She’s the Evil Mother, the terrifying Vagina Dentata, the Monstrous Female who is somehow the cause of everything scary and bad and wrong.

It’s funny, isn’t it? Men run the world, own almost everything in it, hold almost every position of power, and yet these two women—each the first in her party to become a serious contender for presidential office—are somehow responsible for everything bad. Somehow they’re in charge, somehow they’re the worst, somehow they are the fount of evil.

This, kids, is our old friend Patriarchy at work. Or, to be more specific, it’s the remnants of the thousands of years of cultural patriarchy we inherited and are only now beginning to change. Women in a patriarchy must be kept under control at all times. Any woman who escapes that control is, automatically, dangerous. Far more dangerous than any man can ever be, because a) she’s threatening to subvert the proper order of things, and because b) uppity women are unnatural and morally depraved.

This is not top-of-mind stuff; it’s not rational or logically derived. It’s deep-seated, incoherent, gut-level Fear of Women. It’s why the junior Senator from New York was personally blamed for the deaths of thousands of Iraqi babies. It’s why the former Governor of Alaska is now somehow personally responsible for the behavior of a schizophrenic shooter in Arizona. It’s why, in a world still owned and run by men, somehow the most terrifying figures are the handful of women who have crawled to the top.

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What does Sarah Palin actually believe?

Friday, June 11th, 2010 · 76 Comments »

Here we go again. The topic is Sarah Palin and her putative feminism, and just typing those words has made my stomach clench up in knots. Jesus. I have no brief for Sarah Palin. I don’t like her, frankly, and I don’t care about her. I do, however, care about feminism. And if we’re going to talk about whether a woman’s beliefs qualify as feminist, shouldn’t we find out what those beliefs actually are?

Much of what was said about Sarah Palin back in 2008 had more to do with stereotypes about evangelicals than with anything Palin herself said or did. For example, the Obama campaign spread the meme that Palin was anti-contraception. She’s not, but people believed it because of the stereotype of the anti-abortion evangelical Christian. Similarly, people assumed Palin was a young earth creationist who thought the dinosaurs were here 6000 years ago — again, not because she herself ever said that, but because of the stereotype. Amanda Marcotte asserted that Palin was one of those Purity Ball anti-sex types — again, based entirely on the stereotype, though as far as I can tell Palin has never endorsed that Purity Ball nonsense or even said anything about premarital sex. And of course Jessica Valenti made the sweeping statement that Palin is against “everything” feminism stands for; but again, this doesn’t seem to track with Palin’s actual statements at all.

Now we have Kate Harding writing this in Jezebel:

But Sarah Palin and her loyal fans are changing all that, by crafting a “feminism” that says we CAN have it all: Gender equality and obedience to men!

Obedience to men? Is that true? Does Sarah Palin believe that women must obey men? Because if she does, then of course she’s not a feminist. Jesus, we don’t ever need to have this conversation again. Game over. Feminism = gender equality. You are not a feminist if you believe that women were put on earth to be inferior or subservient to men. This is basic semantics.

So if Sarah Palin really believes that women must obey men, then please, somebody show me the cite. Please.

By the way, I agree with several of the points in Kate’s article, particularly her observation that “Feminism did not leave conservative Christian women behind. Conservative Christian women rejected feminism.” And her analysis of leftism and religion is spot on.

This, however, is rather strange:

This is what I think of whenever I hear people talk about conservative Christian women “reclaiming” feminism, or blaming those mean and nasty “traditional” (read: “actual”) feminists for keeping them out. You don’t even want the fucking banana. But you’d rather turn it into a lump of mush that nobody wants than let anyone else have it.

Is Kate saying here that conservative Christian women really don’t want feminism or anything it offers, not equality or opportunity or respect; that they just want to ruin it for all the other women? Because if she is (and I may have misread her), I disagree.

Some women trapped in conservative Christianity probably feel that way, yes; some women are self-loathing misogynists. Some women are threatened by feminism and wish to appropriate it. Some women are dishonest opportunists. And of course the male patriarchs on the right want nothing better than to destroy or defang or redefine feminism any way they can.

That’s true on the left as well. I don’t know when the Playboy Bunny suit got a “feminist empowerfulment” label sewn in, but I’m pretty sure that has about as much to do with feminism as the Southern Baptist Convention. And there are plenty of women on the left who seem determined to redefine feminism as some kind of Virginia Slims-smoking Jimmy Choo-wearing labioplasty-seeking exercise in patriarchal compliance.

But I would argue that most of the half-assed feminists (or would-be feminists) on both the left and the right are half-assed not because they’re plotting to destroy feminism, but because feminism is hard. And patriarchy is strong. Feminism is hard for individual women, who have to divest themselves of all kinds of brainwashing and footbinding; and it’s hard for society, which is obviously taking centuries to move from women-as-chattel to women-as-human-beings. Nevertheless, the feminist promise is deeply and genuinely appealing to all kinds of women, even (or perhaps especially) to those trapped in heavily patriarchal subcultures. And so you get all kinds of klugey compromises and weird messes as women try to remake their little worlds.

Put it this way: when the crazy-ass evangelicals start ordaining women as preachers, I don’t see that as a plot to disguise patriarchy as feminism. I see it as progress. Yes, the religion is still a patriarchal crockpot of nonsensical goop, but hey, at least it’s moving in the right direction.

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Palin really is the right-wing woman that the faux-feminists claimed Hillary to be

Thursday, February 11th, 2010 · 45 Comments »

It’s time for another edition of “comments that should have been posts.” I’m elevating this one to post status because a) it’s true, and b) it’s the kind of thing that gets our stomach acids going for days here in the Smoking Lounge.

At any rate, over in the Hillary poll thread, Alice P. said of Sarah Palin:

I cringe at the idea of someone who is a fundie being the first woman president.

And I said:

A factoid that’s bandied about is that the first woman leader in most countries is usually a conservative. Somehow that eases the path, since it means that she’s not threatening the patriarchal status quo completely.

Hillary was our nation’s best chance to avoid that fate. She was and is a feminist Democrat. She’s to the left of Obama.

Which of course is why it was such bullshit for the faux-feminists to pretend that they couldn’t support Hillary because she was so “right-wing” or “not feminist enough.” As opposed to Barack Lieberman Obama.

Ironically, Palin really is the right-wing woman that the faux-feminists claimed Hillary to be.

Poll: if Palin runs in 2012, will that entice Hillary to run again?

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010 · 59 Comments »

Sarah Palin is a gifted politician. She may be crazy and wrong about a lot of stuff, but she’s still a charismatic leader. Read, for example, this thoughtful comment by Ciccina — who, I assure you from secret personal knowledge, is as much a radical feminist as myself. As Ciccina says, “she’s their Hillary.”

Sarah Palin is running for president. Whether she’ll still be running for president in 2012 is anybody’s guess, but I’m betting she will. And there’s a very good chance she will become the Republican nominee.

That will make her the first woman candidate for president on a major party ticket. Bite that.

So I’m wondering: what will Hillary do? I’m wondering it so much that I decided to make a little poll here and ask you all what you think.

[poll id="2"]

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Christie Hefner, Sarah Palin, and the meaning of feminism

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009 · 29 Comments »

Last year I got into several disputes over whether it was appropriate for Sarah Palin to consider herself a feminist. Most people, including me, consider her abortion stance anti-feminist, but is that alone enough to disqualify her? She clearly embraces the feminist message in other respects, and self-identifies as a feminist.

(Notice, of course, that I’m using the traditional definition of feminism as: “1: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes; 2: organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.” This is not the same thing as the neo-feminism so popular today, which equates feminism with whatever political agenda is in fashion at Daily Kos. I’m also putting aside the argument that you can’t possibly be a feminist if you’re also a Republican. It’s true that the modern GOP has been hostile to women’s rights, but people’s political loyalties are complex. You might as well say that Michael Steele can’t possibly believe in racial equality.)

At any rate, I’m willing to accept Palin as a feminist — a politically conservative feminist, to be sure — who, paradoxically, holds an anti-feminist view on abortion. But for many people the abortion thing was, and is, a bridge too far. Can’t be a feminist if you’re anti-choice, they say. Automatic disqualifier. Okay, I reply; but what about feminists who hold other anti-feminist beliefs? Where do we draw the line? As I said in this thread:

…Based on my own life experience, the notion that “pro-life feminists” are, by definition, less rigorously feminist than, say, the most callous of pro-prostitution feminists, is not one I can accept.

Some of the most woman-hating women I’ve ever known were pro-prostitution feminists. Some of the most patriarchy-enabling women I’ve ever known were pro-prostitution feminists….

I think the “embryo is a person” argument is flat-out wrong and flat-out dangerous, and I will oppose anti-choice laws until my dying day. But I recognize that women can hold that view at the same time that they believe in women’s equality.

We are all full of contradictions, and none of us is perfect in our feminism. I guess that’s where I’m coming from.

I was reminded of all this the other day when Ann Bartow wrote a post on Christie Hefner. “The Odious Christie Hefner” is how I think of her, since she’s a prime example of the kind of woman-hating pro-prostitution feminist I had in mind back when we were arguing over credentials.

Christie Hefner makes a big deal out of identifying as a feminist: she gives money, she sits on boards, she makes noises about women’s rights. She also, of course, has spent her life profiting from the sexual exploitation of other women. Playboy magazine was always a shrine to patriarchy; under Christie Hefner’s direction it became a giant Borg ship of bunny-eared misogynistic objectification, a vast enterprise selling everything from stripper outfits for toddlers (get ‘em started young!) to hardcore porn videos. The ubiquity of the Playboy brand has been a key factor in the normalization of pornography — or perhaps I should say the pornification of normality. Margaret Atwood once observed that if aliens tried to understand human civilization from magazine covers, they would conclude that only women have bodies. That was a few decades ago. Now the aliens would conclude that not only are women the only people with bodies, but all the women are porn stars.

But Playboy is guilty of more than just being a capitalistic vampire squid. They’ve been firing on the ideological front as well. One of the most noxious things Christie Hefner did was hire Camille Paglia as Playboy’s in-house anti-feminist pundit. And make no mistake, Paglia is definitely anti-feminist; she calls herself a feminist purely as a marketing ploy, to get people to pay attention. “Oh, look! A feminist who says that patriarchy is good and women are happier being oppressed and that ‘no’ really means ‘please fuck me!’ Cool!” Paglia spent years shoveling that horseshit in the pages of Playboy, particularly her claim that second-wave feminism was puritanical and anti-sex. This is all part of the game, you understand: it’s how patriarchy fights back. Feminists say they don’t want sexuality that is warped by misogyny; patriarchalists say that means feminists don’t want sex. See the sleight of hand? Sex = misogynist sex. In the world of Playboy, there is no other kind.

Playboy has also fought the feminist revolution with its “show us yer tits” series of famous women. For decades, female entertainers have been heckled by drunks demanding that they disrobe. You could be Joni Fucking Mitchell singing “A Case of You,” but some asshole in the back will still yell “show us yer tits,” thus reminding you and everybody else that while you may think you’re a fancy-schmancy singer-songwriter who can give Dylan a run for his money, underneath the clothes you’re just a pair of tits. And that is the psychological essence of every single Playboy feature on women-in-the-news. As women have branched out and become high achievers in sports, cinema, education, law, and politics, Playboy has been there at every step of the way to yell, “show us yer tits!” Think you’re a famous director? Show us yer tits! An Olympic gold medalist? Show us yer tits! Rhodes scholar? Champion athlete? Show us yer tits! A collection of Playboy back issues is like a serial killer’s trophy room: photographic mementos of all the uppity women who’ve been reduced to masturbation fodder.

And yes, of course the famous women who’ve posed have done so willingly. That’s because they’ve been persuaded by the anti-feminist backlash that to do so is “empowering,” which is proof that there is almost nothing propaganda can’t do. No idea is too absurd, no suggestion too preposterous that a good propaganda campaign can’t make it seem perfectly logical and appealing. Look, if posing naked were empowering, then the rich men who run the world would be lining up for it. We would be awash in naked dick shots of Warren Buffet and Bill Gates and Barack Obama; magazines would be filled with male politicians and financiers and moguls with their bits hanging out. Softly lit, perhaps; head coyly tilted, bunny tail on the ass. Power.

Anyway: back to Christie Hefner — who, by the way, really is powerful, seeing as how she’s richer than God and is friends with President Obama and has zillions of connections. No bunny tail on the ass for her. If this horrible woman gets to call herself a feminist, then I have a hard time seeing why Sarah Palin is beyond the pale. This isn’t about supporting Palin politically (I don’t); it’s about being consistent with our feminism.

But look at what Salon does with the Christie Hefner story: despite acknowledging the extremely problematic nature of Hefner’s life work vis-a-vis feminism, Tracy Clark-Flory never denies that Hefner herself is a feminist. Here’s her final graf:

Some criticize her for failing to stage a feminist rebellion from within, instead pushing Playboy to edgier pornographic extremes. But she unflinchingly faced the reality of sexual desire — in all its politically incorrect glory — and found a way to live with it. Hefner hasn’t fought male fantasies, but she has campaigned to improve women’s realities.

Which is a hell of a lot more measured and generous than anything Salon ever published about Sarah Palin.

Did Bristol Palin dodge a bullet or what?

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009 · 32 Comments »

It’s bad enough that she got knocked up by Levi Johnston and will forever be linked to him through the magic of DNA; but at least she’s not married to the twit. Best decision the girl ever made.

Levi is singing his song again to Vanity Fair, the song of course being, “so, like, what do you want me to say about Sarah Palin? Cause, you know, whatever you want. Hey, do I get to keep the limo?” Levi is about as believable as The Pathological Liar on Saturday Night Live.

According to Johnston, “She would blatantly say, ‘I want to just take this money and quit being governor.’”

Sure she did, Levi; sure she did. He also says Palin complained that being governor was “too hard,” and that one time she brought him into her bedroom to show her how a gun worked. I know I’m convinced. I particularly enjoy the realistic dialogue and the remarkably good fit with various rumors already floated about the Palins.

“And…and…this one time, like, she brought me into her bedroom and showed me her closet, and was like, ‘I spent $150,000 on clothes for the campaign. I sure am glad I spent all this money on clothes. It was really great to have so much money to go shopping with.’ And…and…like, another time she was walking around the house saying stuff like, ‘boy, I sure hope nobody finds out that Trig isn’t really my son. Boy, that sure would be bad if anybody found that out.’”

No wonder Bristol has decided that abstinence is best. Can you imagine? She probably wishes she could have her va-jay-jay fumigated.

And now the word is that Levi is considering posing for Playgirl. To which I say: please oh please oh PLEASE let it be true. Which is evil of me, because after all, Levi’s still a kid. Sort of. He’s 19, I think. Schadenfreude should ideally be reserved for the misfortunes of those 21 or older.

In truth I feel kind of sorry for Levi. In between the evil giggling, I mean. He’s not much different from the rest of the celebrity trainwrecks vying for attention. As far as I can tell, the main job of celebrities nowadays is to get drunk, take off their clothes, stalk their ex-lovers, and generally make fools of themselves while the paparazzi take pictures. Levi’s a natural.

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Palin stalkers bring the crazy

Saturday, August 1st, 2009 · 55 Comments »

Last night I added Memeorandum to my sidebar feed, since I like to check the site and it’ll be convenient to have it percolating right here on the blog. This afternoon I moseyed out here to the public area of the lounge and saw that, according to Memeorandum, SARAH AND TODD PALIN ARE SPLITSVILLE!

I clicked right over and got the news in exciting giant font:

memeorandum

Wow!

Except that it doesn’t seem to be true. (Edited to add: That link originally went to a CBS report, but it looks like CBS has now taken down the page — in embarrassment for even covering the story? So here’s a link to The Swamp instead.) It took me about 10 seconds of digging to discover that this whole divorce thing is a rumor started by one of the Palin stalker blogs. A handful of other Palin stalker blogs echoed the story, and the next thing you know it’s on CBS and at the top of Memeorandum.

Couple of things:

  1. Is there any limit to what the Palin stalker blogs can pass off as news? I’m guessing “Todd Palin in Satanic baby-sacrificing cult” wouldn’t fly, but I’m not sure where the line is.
  2. Can we just think about the fact that there is such a thing as Palin stalker blogs?

We all know that we live in a woman-hating society, and Sarah Palin is our culture’s current Designated Hate Receptacle. A few weeks ago I wrote a post about why some feminists are irrational on the subject of Palin, but of course it’s not just feminists. It’s everybody. Sarah Palin is everybody’s Designated Hate Receptacle. (It’s only puzzling to me when it comes from feminists because feminists ought to be more self-aware than that. Alas.)


UPDATE: This blog has the anatomy of the smear: Palin Camp Shoots Down Ridiculous Divorce Rumors Spread by CNN Stringer Dennis Zaki. It’s obviously a pro-Palin blog (Conservatives4Palin — kind of a tip-off there), but the linkages are solid and they’ve documented how the story was spread.

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Comments from the giant thread: inside the mind of a former Palin-hater!

Monday, July 6th, 2009 · 121 Comments »
Dr. Socks hard at work, sewing new curtains for the Spirit Smoking Lounge.

Dr. Socks sewing new curtains for the Spirit Smoking Lounge.

A couple of days ago I wrote a rambling, inside baseball kind of post about feminists and Sarah Palin. I just thought it would be something to chew on over the holiday weekend while I worked on a few refurbishments here to the Spirit Smoking Lounge.

Instead, the thing went viral and landed at the top of Memeorandum, among other unexpected places. The result was 370 comments (and counting) from a wide variety of readers, and a remarkably thoughtful discussion. Also some batshit crazy stuff, of course, but on the whole not too much.

Several of the comments deserve closer attention, either because they’re novel or pithy or add an interesting dimension. I think this week I’ll pull some of those out in posts to keep things cozy here while I continue sewing the new curtains for the lounge.

First up, this practically perfect post from a young feminist Obama supporter who got caught up in the crazy:

hilary g says:

Violet, I just began reading your blog a few months ago and I’m absolutely fascinated.

I want to comment on this post as someone who formerly harbored the irrational hatred for Sarah Palin that you refer to in your post. For me personally, I thought McCain’s decision to pick her as a running mate was his way of pandering to democrats, women, feminists, his way of “diversifying” his campaign to compete with Hillary and Obama’s historically significant campaigns. I was terrified that this would give him the necessary edge to become president, thereby resulting in another Republican presidency. I automatically assumed, like many others, that feminism and Republican ideology were incompatible, and so between McCain choosing her for the fact of her sex (my assumption) and Palin milking the “hockey mom” feminist thing, I was horrified that they were going to beat us at our own game, under the guise that they were ideologically fit to play. In the wake of the Bush presidency, McCain’s choice of a female VP seemed like an audacious ploy to differentiate his campaign from Bush’s, to redeem the Republican ideology by distancing itself from the Bush presidency. The idea that this (Republican) woman could throw the whole election somehow gave me every incentive to hate her, to believe everything I heard about her, to brand her “one of those women that make other women look bad.” She was definitely a hate receptacle. McCain wasn’t a hate receptacle, despite his Republicanism, because he was a man. I thought, Palin should know better. Someone said in the comments that feminist women judge other women more harshly, and looking back, I totally agree. It was a personal, intense hatred, because Palin didn’t represent all of my feminist sentiments. I thought she gave feminism a bad name, a bad look. I didn’t like how she winked; she was trying to be cutesy. I didn’t like what I heard about the amount of money she spent on her wardrobe. It seems so silly to me now, but I hated her because she appeared too feminine. I didn’t realize at the time that what I was partaking in was blatant misogyny.

Also, it was the hip thing to do. I’m twenty two years old, I attend a very liberal university; in this environment, Palin-bashing constitutes some kind of bizarre camaraderie, like she’s a joke that everyone’s in on. In retrospect, really bizarre, and really embarrassing for the fact that I jumped on the Obama bandwagon to hell.

The comment is a model of clarity, economy, and self-awareness. I suspect hilary g’s story is one that could be told by a million other young women — if, that is, they were capable of this kind of reflection and perspective.

I just hope to hell hilary g is real and not Andrew Sullivan in disguise.

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