Friday, September 5, 2008

Beyond the Pale- Palin

Rush Limbaugh wished for a “babe” for vice president of the U.S. and may get two if we’re not careful: a babe with a babe. Ironically, McCain’s running mate is also some feminists’ wish come true: a nightmare and dream in one person. Didn’t we all envision a day when ANY woman or girl could aspire to the presidency? Enter Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska — with baby in arms — accepting the V.P. nomination. We women’s rights activists didn’t say, “We only want women who agree with the feminist agenda.” Accordingly, the greatest tribute we can pay to the woman’s liberation movement is to regard Palin as the formidable adversary she is and soundly defeat her and McCain. To do any less would be patronizing, er, matronizing.

Despite Palin’s membership in the anti-choice group, “Feminists for Life,” Palin is no more a feminist than Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is a civil rights worker unless “worker” can be defined as “working” AGAINST civil rights.

But as I despise the GOP hypocrisy, I must be careful to not also be a hypocrite in working to “cream” McCain/Palin. Even the campaign metaphors are dominated by mostly male pursuits. “Taking the gloves off,” “kicking her ass,” and “No holds barred,” are sports references that we all use irrespective of life experience. What metaphors then, if not sports? We’re going to: Flatten her curls? Clean her closet? Burn her toast? You get the challenge here.

Regardless of our metaphors, we under-estimate the power of an anti-feminist woman at great risk to our economy, the troops, healthcare, our mortgages. In a male dominated country, Palin is a Limbaugh/patriarchal dream: she’s devoted to so-called traditional male values more than many males are. Anyone who dismisses her potential for wreaking right-wing fanatical havoc was not awake or around in the 80s when feminists got their Equal Rights Amendment closets cleaned by progressive gender politics enemy Phyllis Schlafly. Schlafly and her minions defeated the ERA, a constitutional amendment so simple and elegant that it boggles the mind that our society still runs from it: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

This past primary season was a disgusting display of American men AND women’s sexism. Radio maven Randi Rhodes called Sen. Clinton a whore. I heard too many women that in my opinion should have known better dig into Sen. Clinton with “below the belt” criticism of the pitch of her voice, or not liking her because she seemed “bitchy” or “scolding.” One commentator I usually respect used terms like “claws” and “fangs,” terms that Women’s Studies 101 students know are misogynist shorthand for women being “cats” or “snakes.” I have saved one personal e-mail from an “enlightened” gender leader that could be easily described as strident and “shrill” who hated Hillary for being strident and “shrill.” Talk about the pot calling the kettle black, a non-sport, cooking metaphor.

Even though it’s tempting to go after Palin with anything and everything, I aspire to not use the same below the belt tactics I saw the anti-Hillary forces use.

So what is the “ladies” equivalent of the gentleman’s code of honor to not hit below the belt? Avoid her family, looks, vocal qualities or fashions and attack her politics, statements and affiliations. We leave ridicule based on biology to the comics, although it’s one of the most powerful tools men have used against public women since we first tried to break into the “no girls allowed” treehouse of politics. We treat female opponents the way we’d like to be treated; as full citizens with as much right to be wrong, idiotic, male chauvinist, greedy and short-sighted as the next guy or gal.

Although I risk being labeled a “single issue” voter, I oppose the McCain/Palin ticket on most issues but primarily because of their stand to overturn Roe v. Wade. Abortion is NOT a single issue. It’s a mega-issue constellation that is a major tenet of women’s rights and responsibilities.

Reproductive self-determination, including birth control and abortion, is at the heart of individual liberty, family economics, separation of church and state, environment, foreign aid policy, education, civil rights, gender and health.

The most utterly private and personal decision a person can make is when, with whom or whether to have a child. And Republicans claim to champion individual liberty and non-intrusive government? Such hypocrisy!

Child-bearing is integral to domestic and global poverty issues given the feminization of poverty. The population explosion that contributes to global warming is a result of too many people born. The decision to regard a fetus as a full human being belongs between a woman and her religion, not government. Abortion is a tapestry, not a simple thread of one color. Aha! Another non-sports metaphor.

I literally can not afford one more year, let alone 4 more years of a Republican administration. If you oppose the GOP platform, please step up to the plate, or, step up to the stove, and let’s cook Palin and McCain’s goose and gander.

1 comment:

Jeanne said...

bravo! bravo! I have taken many a head-knocking on my stance to never support an anti-choice politician being told that I can't choose a President on one issue....and you have summed it up perfectly. It is not, and never will be, one single issue.....thank you!!!!