Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Derangement

...from Jezebel why Sarah Palin causes heads to explode with incoherent rage.
And the question now is why? Why does this particular pitbull in lipstick infuriate — and scare us — so viscerally? Why does her very existence make us feel — and act — so ugly? New York Times columnist Judith Warner calls Palin's nomination a "thoroughgoing humiliation for America’s women," because "Palin’s not intimidating, and makes it clear that she’s subordinate to a great man." Palin, who obviously is incredibly ambitious, masks that ambition behind her PTA placard and "folksy" talk. In the oft-replayed tape from earlier this summer, when asked about the Vice Presidency, Palin notoriously said, '“I’m used to bein’ very productive and workin’ real hard in an administration and we want to make sure that that ‘V.P.’ slot would be a fruitful type of position.”

I think what Ms. Warner is dancing around, but not saying outright, is that for a certain kind of feminist, Palin is a symbol for everything we hoped was not true in the world anymore. We hoped that we didn't have to hide our ambition or pretend that our goals were effortlessly achieved ("I never really set out to be in public affairs, much less to run for this office," the Governor has said.) We hoped that we could be mothers without having our motherhood be our defining characteristic, as it seems to be for Palin. We hoped that we did not have to be perfect beauty queens to get to where we wanted to be in life, that our looks, good or bad, wouldn't matter. Whether or not you think it's appropriate to comment on Palin's appearance, the fact of her attractiveness exists, and is being used to her advantage by Republican sloganeers ("the hottest Governor in the coldest state," et. al).

Keith Olbermann called Sarah Palin "Tracy Flick" after her speech on Wednesday, and I think that's not a perfect parallel. Tracy, while completely ruthless (as Palin has shown herself to be so far with that nasty community organizer comment), never hid her ambition behind a polished veneer — it was as plain as the bows in her hair. No, I think the correct high school stereotype is of the homecoming queen. For many of us looking back at high school, we can now feel a smug superiority towards the homecoming queen. Sure, she was pretty and popular in high school, catering to the whims of boys and cheering on their hockey games, but what happened to her after high school? Often, she popped out some kids and ended up toiling in some not particularly impressive job. We can look back and say, we might have been ambitious nerds in high school, but it ultimately paid off. What's infuriating, and perhaps rage-inducing, about Palin, is that she has always embodied that perfectly pleasing female archetype, playing by the boys' game with her big guns and moose-murdering, and that she keeps being rewarded for it. Our schadenfreude for the homecoming queen's mediocrity has turned into white hot anger at her continued dominance.
Who's mediocre here? The premise that these women are normally normal is one which I disagree with. Anyone who touts "choice", that is the tearing of babies from limb to limb all in the name of sovereignty over one's body, is not normal. Still this post had a moment of clarity in recognizing the intense jealousy toward a real woman who is not afraid of being a woman.

2 comments:

frival said...

That's exactly it, Argent. They hate her because her life shows that everything they've been screaming about for all these years really does amount to dust on the scales.

Argent said...

I'm amazed at the savaging she's getting from women. Not surprised, but still incredulous at the level of hatred...illogical, visceral, true derangement.

I was reading an article the other day, "Lipstick Jungle", reflecting on how women are raunchier than males on campuses. They drive other women into risky behaviors and engage in mutual destruction.

Success cannot be admired, there must be some way of destroying that because it seems to point to one's own failures.

We need religious people in habits, and we need them in droves. Why? Because they are visible reminders of something far greater than money and fame. Poverty, chastity, and obedience....the evangelical counsels. The good news that there is more to life than the temporal trappings.

Back to culture wars...it's the end of an age and therefore we have such violence. I don't know what will emerge. But our Christian hope is that God is working his purpose out.