Monday, August 30, 2010

The Twisted Sister? Part I

When I read this op-ed entitled "A Palin Of Our Own" I wondered how brave I would feel today. Anything about Palin and feminism is incendiary on the blogs, combined with the tremendous difficulty of covering the topic in short soundbites which blog posts ultimately are. It is that difficulty which requires the bravery, because whatever I say will leave too much unsaid and the outcome will be rife for misunderstandings of all types. Every time I start to disentangle the topic in my mind I see the threads going all over the place, and following them would take a book:

What happened to feminism in the Democratic Primaries? Something awful appeared. What made Hillary Clinton the lever that turned over that particular rock hiding various creepy-crawlies? What happened in the 2008 presidential elections and the way women were treated in some of the media and on some otherwise liberal blogs? Was it a mere sequel to the earlier Clinton-bashing, often turning into woman-bashing, with odd twists of sexism by McCain and the other boyz in his team?

Why is Palin still all over the news? Is it because she is incendiary and that's good for readership and advertising revenues? If so, why is she good for those things, what is it that the audience is looking for when reading about her or when watching her? Is any of that relevant for understanding misogyny or the advancement of women in general? How does one juggle the ideas of Palin as the leader anointed by God and Palin as the most stupid blonde ever (without being actually blonde)? Given that these kinds of approaches are always used for one's homies and one's enemies, respectively, how much of the emotions hanging around Palin is about her sex?

What are Palin's actual achievements as the governor of Alaska? Is quitting jobs what we want to see a 'new feminist' leader do? How are the 'new' feminisms defined by those who claim them: The ones on the extreme left and the ones on the extreme right? What is required for a person to be regarded as a feminist? Only acceptance of the idea for her/his own life, while fighting against any change for other women? Only focus on general social justice issues? Something else completely?

Do the two main political parties have real platforms about the role of women in politics? I don't mean mouthwash here, but something real. And if they do, what are those real platforms? Who is it we refer to when we say "the liberals" treat Palin a certain way or the "conservatives" treat Clinton a certain way, or vice versa?

And so on and so on.

Yes, all of that is boring and hair-splitting but the current debate ignores such huge chunks of it, replacing the necessary longer discussions with soundbites which mean different things to different people and do nothing to further the conversation.

More above in Parts II and III, the last with a discussion of what I mean by the title of these posts.