What on earth does Sarah Palin think she’s doing? Since she was chosen, her gubernatorial approval rating has dropped 18% and John McCain’s support among women has dropped 7%.
First, we look at Sarah Palin’s role in the McCain campaign. Imagine now that government is a family. McCain’s campaign values are modeled after a family with a strict father authority, and a somewhat subservient mother authority. (Female subservience is why Republicans are pro-life: they reject a career woman’s right to put career above starting a family, and they reject a teenager’s right to control over her body.) She was initially chosen to be a mother figure for America. The Republican ticket should have had a balance of maternal and paternal governance, which is why Sarah Palin’s experience raising such a large family was counted.
So, McCain’s campaign treated her in a sexist way, because she signed on to the subservient role that they offered her. (Note that she refers to herself as a hockey “mom” instead of a hockey “mother”: the familiarity of the word “mom” is non-threatening, and contrasts with the authority and respect demanded by “mother.”) In the third presidential debate, McCain said this:
Well, Americans have gotten to know Sarah Palin. They know that she’s a role model to women and other — and reformers all over America[…]
She’ll be my partner[…]
And she has ignited our party and people all over America that have never been involved in the political process. And I can’t tell how proud I am of her and her family.
Her husband‘s a pretty tough guy, by the way, too.
Oh stereotypes, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways..
- “Role model” is a phrase to describe a mother, with Americans as Sarah’s metaphorical children.
- “Partner” makes Governor Palin a second wife to John McCain.
- “Her and her family” implies that John McCain isn’t proud of Sarah Palin alone, without her family: A woman is incomplete without her family, and should be measured by whether she has raised children.
- The reference to “Her husband” shows that a woman is incomplete without a man, and without a heteronormative relationship. Not only that, but her husband is “tough,” indicating that while Palin paints herself as a reformer, her strength and authority never challenges that of her “tough” husband. Imagine Barack Obama saying that Joe Biden’s wife’s strength qualifies him to be VP.
Palin used to identify as a feminist, saying in an interview that she believed in equal opportunity for men and women but also that women have already achieved this equality. Ergo, the purpose of feminism has been fulfilled.
Now, Palin is abandoning McCain’s sinking ship, going off-script and looking out for her own political career by voicing intention to run in 2012. Now that she’s exhibiting independence beyond that expected of her by John Sidney McCain III, the campaign and conservative media have turned on her. Suddenly, the stereotype of a disloyal, backstabbing, career-hungry bitch has been applied to Palin. She was called a “diva” when she “went rogue,” and it was said that she has shoddy trust in her family or the McCain campaign.
Now, the Photoshopped bikini photo frustrated me, as did the many clips of Sarah Palin from the swimsuit portion of the Miss Alaska pageant, because sexualizing women undermines their political authority. But because of her own efforts to make herself sexually and fashionably appealing in order to win over voters, I am forced to abandon that line of feminist defense of Sarah Palin.
But please. She may not realize that voicing an intention to run for president is an attempt to flee the restrictions of John McCain’s “strict father” campaign, but Sarah Palin can still have some of my sympathy, just not my vote.
That said, her candidacy is a threat to women everywhere. Obama/Biden 08.