Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hatin' Palin: A double-edged sword?

Emily Bazelon, over at Slate, writes an opinion piece titled, "The Un-Hillary:
Why watching Sarah Palin is agony for women."

In it, she describes the grief that women, conservative and liberal alike, encounter when watching and listening to her flawed responses to opponents in debates"

"Conservatives express straightforward disappointment. 'I watch her interviews with the held breath of an anxious parent, my finger poised over the mute button in case it gets too painful,' Parker writes glumly. 'Unfortunately, it often does. My cringe reflex is exhausted.'"


"But Palin's gender is at the center of another set of reactions I've been hearing and reading among women who don't support her ticket, filled with ambivalence over how bad she is. Laugh at the Tina Fey parodies that make Palin ridiculous just by quoting her verbatim. And then cry. When Palin tanks, it's good for the country if you want Obama and Biden to win, but it's bad for the future of women in national politics. I'm in this boat, too. Should we feel sorry for Sarah Palin? No. But if she fails miserably, we might be excused for feeling a bit sorry for ourselves."

I'll admit it. While I am an Obama supporter, of course, a part of me cringes at seeing the only prominent female political figure of the moment mess up so badly, so often. She can't hack it in the big leagues, that much is obvious. But the problem with that for women is that a lot of people are going to attribute her incompetence to her gender. Because Americans really are that stupid.

Another part of me is so incredibly angry that a woman like Palin has sort of undeservedly slipped into a role that replaces uber-prepared and competent Hillary Clinton as our gender's lone representative on a major party ticket.

So put me in Bazelon's camp:

"And yet. When I watch Palin, I can't help but cringe along with Parker. Call it women's solidarity, however misplaced. I keep coming back to this prim phrase: Please, don't make a spectacle of yourself. String some coherent sentences together. Your efforts to wrap yourself in Hillary's mantle make no sense in terms of what you'd actually do in office. But if you could pull off just a bit of her debating prowess—just a bit—I'll step a little lighter when I wake up Friday morning."