Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Liberals: Fearing (and Therefore Hating) Sarah Palin

The attacks on Sarah Palin have been utterly unprecedented. Over the top. Obsessive.

And why is this?

Because Sarah Palin is a huge threat, both to their electoral prospects and (more importantly) to their worldview.

While her nomination certainly has its risks, it shakes things up thoroughly, and makes the election of The Anointed One more questionable. Ideological feminists won’t vote for her, of course, but a fair number of independent and conservative Democratic women may do so. They can identify with her.

But worse is the threat to the smug stereotypes of the liberals and leftist.

For those folks, all “real” women are feminists. Women who aren’t feminists are inert, reclusive lumps who stay home, bake cookies, and stay out of politics.

So now they are faced with a woman who is an achiever -- indeed an overachiever -- outspoken, aggressive, strong willed, and conservative.

It’s cognitive dissonance run wild.

In reality, of course, genuinely strong and independent women tend to be conservative. A passive “go with the flow” woman will quite likely be told by her high school teachers that she should be a leftist feminist, almost certainly be told the same thing by her college professors, and all the while be given this precise message by the media.

Conservative women have to be counter-cultural. They have to buck the stereotypes.

A Christian teen girl to resolves to abstain from sex has to have the strength to resist huge media pressures, and often high school teachers who sneer at the notion of abstinence. The “go along” teen who passively accepts the media message will be promiscuous.

Thus Sarah Palin is the sort of woman that liberals think does not exist. The fact that she does blows their minds.

Imagine a group of Klansmen faced with a black guy who is obviously smarter, more capable and more accomplished than they are. Eventually, the Klansmen will have a bunch of rationalizations about how the guy is not so smart, is corrupt and has no business being here.

But the first reaction will be hostility and fear. The liberals might be on average a bit more clever and verbal than the Klansmen (who isn’t?), but the basic dynamic is the same.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

HAHA! Afraid of our electoral prospects? Have you seen the polls since she was announced. Obama has exceeded 50% in both Gallup and Rasmussen since Palin entered the stage.

And according to Gallup, since Palin was named McCain's support among Republican women has increased from 85% to 90%, but he's lost 4pts among IND Men, 3pts among IND Women, 5pts with DEM men and 2pts with DEM Women.

Yes, we're down right terrified.


9:15 PM  
Anonymous Daffy said...

I have hope that between them, Trig and Bristol Palin are enough to drive a stake through the heart of nasty-old-hag-ism AND cut off its head.

11:31 PM  
Anonymous femmemeister said...

I just wanted to say that I (a big ol' feminist liberal) and a lot of my friends are really unhappy with the way some other liberals have been attacking Palin. Instead of focusing on real issues (such as the amount of time she has been governor or her ideological positions), some of the more vitriolic critics have been using sexism themselves, claiming she is a "bad mother" or that her voice is "shrill" and whiny.

However, I do not think these sorts of attacks are limited to the left, as you seem to claim. After all, similar attacks have been used against Hillary Clinton (from both the right and the left) and other prominent women.

Perhaps the lesson we should be learning from this is that using sexist rhetoric of any kind is so widespread because, unfortunately, it works. Attacks that feed off of people's conceptions of what women "should" be (whether that be a stay-at-home mom or a career woman) are easy and effective, and too often they resonate with the people.

While I am disappointed that members of my own party are engaging in this nasty rhetoric *cough*biden*cough*, I do not think that the problem is with feminism or feminist ideology, of which much of the contemporary writings in fact support women who choose to rear large families and support programs to make it easier for women to have large families and still pursue outside interests (such as movements for better childcare or the new programs that allow women to bring their infants with them to work).

The problem is that people want to win elections, no matter what.

The problem is that attacking women based on their "womanhood" works.

This is why we need feminism--sexist rhetoric will only cease being effective when women are not prejudiced against. Yay feminism!

P.S. I suggest you take a look at Shakesville ( It is an avowedly liberal and feminist blog that has been tracing sexism against Palin (again, from both the right and the left) and criticizing the coverage, while still disagreeing with her views and her politics. The quote I really liked was: "principles aren't reserved just for people we like, agree with, and would 'do for us' in kind."

A lot of us on the left agree with that statement.

P.P.S. I really take issue with the notion that conservative women are more independent than liberal and/or feminist women. It is not easy for young women to identify as feminists, even though it is true that universities are more supportive than other types of communities (high schools, suburbs, local government organizations, etc.). I am sure conservative women have similar problems in certain types of communities but that it is easier for them in other communities. I don't see why there has to be a contest as to who is more independent.

11:18 AM  
Anonymous matt said...

Oh yeah, she's scary.

People may be afraid of Sarah Palin as president (and therefore you call them liberals), but seriously, do you think liberals are afraid of her? Good god, she's the cop from Fargo.

As a liberal I am delighted by the selection of a nobody who happens to have a vagina, and its cool her daughter is pregnant by a self described "fucking redneck" and hasn't really done much in government for her whole life and is in the back pocket of the oil companies and kind of lies about a lot of stuff and has a couple brewing scandals.

So I don't think we liberals are afraid of Sarah Plain and Tall Tales. We didn't really think she couldn't read, and she read George Bush's speech real good.

2:18 PM  
Blogger Russell Wallace said...

Do you actually believe the stuff you write, or are you just blindly repeating RNC talking points?

The general reaction from the Democrats and progressives I've talked to about Sarah Palin has been laughter and relief. We can't believe that John "Maverick" McCain, the man who claims he always puts country before politics, made such a blatantly political choice for VP. Talk about pandering!

I challenge you to make the argument that Sarah Palin is the best possible choice to lead our country should John McCain die or become incapacitated. Palin was so far down on that list that her selection was a joke, and that's what we find so funny.

8:54 PM  

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