Parity for Palin

Two weeks ago, when writing about the McCain advert that cast Obama and his (nonexistent) oppo researchers as wolves hunting down Sarah Palin, I said: "You know, it's not doing women any favors by pretending that being vetted by an opponent is akin to being stalked by a pack of wolves. That's what any candidate should expect, regardless of their sex—and asserting that a woman should be excepted from the typical campaign process is the real sexism here, not doing oppo research on her." I've been consistently infuriated with the McCain campaign's portrayal of Palin as a victim every time the media wants access to her or her policy positions are criticized, in no small part because there is actual sexism in this campaign that's being ignored by the McCain campaign even as it uses erroneous charges of sexism as a shield.

(I might, for the record, have some sympathy for the McCain campaign's position of keeping Palin away from the press, based on their shameful performance in covering Hillary Clinton and general willingness to engage in overt misogyny, if the campaign's gratuitous use of "the gender card" in places it doesn't belong didn't betray their real motivation.)

Anyway, it turns out I'm not the only woman who's losing my cool with this shit.

Campbell Brown, last seen at Shakesville handing McCain spokesperson Tucker Bounds his ass, went off on one last night, accusing the McCain campaign of binding Palin with "chauvinistic chains" and exhorting them to "Free Sarah Palin." It's awesome:

Bear with me, for a short rant on another subject, because frankly, I have had it, and I know a lot of other women out there are with me on this. I have had enough of the sexist treatment of Sarah Palin. It has to end. She was here in New York City today, meeting with world leaders at the U.N. And what did the McCain campaign do? They tried to ban reporters from covering those meetings. And they did ban reporters from asking Gov. Palin any questions.

Tonight, I call on the McCain campaign to stop treating Sarah Palin like she is a delicate flower that will wilt at any moment. This woman is from Alaska, for crying out loud. She is strong. She is tough. She is confident. And you claim she is ready to be one heartbeat away from the presidency. If that is the case, then end this chauvinistic treatment of her now. Allow her to show her stuff. Allow her to face down those pesky reporters, just like Barack Obama did today, just like John McCain did today, just like Joe Biden has done on numerous occasions.

Let her have a real news conference with real questions. By treating Sarah Palin different from the other candidates in this race, you are not showing her the respect she deserves. Free Sarah Palin. Free her from the chauvinistic chains you are binding her with. Sexism in this campaign must come to an end. Sarah Palin has just as much a right to be a real candidate in this race as the men do. So let her act like one.
Right on. As Steve Benen, who gets the hat tip, notes: "McCain and his team are making it clear that they don't respect Palin, don't trust her, and don't believe she's capable enough for the rigors of, say, a press conference." Precisely. One of the primary criticisms of McCain's selection of Palin was that he was using her as window-dressing, which may have been a premature charge the moment she was selected, without anyone having seen what she could do on a national stage, but that criticism is certainly fair at this point, as it's become patently obvious McCain doesn't want to use her for anything but rallying crowds at partisan campaign stops.

If she were auditioning to be head cheerleader, that might be okay, but she's not—she's running to be the next vice president of the United States.

We've already tried letting a cheerleader run the country. It doesn't work.

George W. Bush, Head Cheerleader at Andover, 1963.

Now, to avoid doing exactly the thing of which I'm accusing the McCain campaign, let me address for a moment Palin's complicity in this antifeminist charade. It is, of course, further evidence of her willingness to put her face on some sort of retrofuck version of women's lib that she is a consenting and eager participant in the misappropriation of feminist rhetoric to be used as a forcefield against legitimate criticism.

She is, like anti-ERA crusader Phyllis Schlafly or professional asshole Ann Coulter or the Times' resident woman-hater Maureen Dowd, content to reap the rewards of feminism even as she denigrates and misuses it. Feminism is the reason Palin has the opportunity she does, is the reason a woman on a national ticket can be taken seriously. Fuck, it's the reason she'll be able to vote for herself.

But being a public feminist can still be hard, and colluding with antifeminist men who will reward you handsomely for it can still be extremely attractive to any woman, no less an ambitious one whose objectives will be much more easily realized if she doesn't insist on being treated like an equal.

It's obvious why Palin chooses to play this role; it still sucks nonetheless. And it chaps my hide but good that she would happily betray the feminist women who are out here doing the dirty work to ensure that her daughters will be adults in a world that much better than the one we've now got.

Palin calls herself a feminist—but if she were an actual feminist, she would insist on taking up the same gauntlet as would be expected of any man in her position.

And as was expected of Hillary Clinton, that woman of whose eighteen million cracks Palin has repeatedly said she's happy to be the beneficiary.

I bet.

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