I cannot predict who will win the presidential campaign, but I already know who will lose big: all women.
I realized this when I saw a 20-something male student who attends a class in the community college where I teach, wearing a T-shirt that read, “Sarah Palin is a C-.” He wore it in public, in broad daylight, and without shame or even consciousness of what he was doing.
I took the time to advise him of the “error of his ways” and informed him of the consequences if he wore it to my class.
This encounter shook me right down to my socks.
Most of my adult life has been spent working for civil rights for all Americans, as a lawyer defending constitutional rights and now as a college teacher and director of a nonprofit advocating for the rights of women.
Not since I told myself I could lose weight on the pizza and cheesecake diet have I been so self-deluded. This election cycle has been like stepping on the scale.
It was the encounter with the young man that woke me up, but there were signs all along the campaign trail. First, with the candidacy of Sen. Hillary Clinton, who won 18 million popular votes from the people of the United States and was ridiculed, marginalized, and put in her place when she wasn’t even offered the vice presidency slot.
But the really big attack on women occurred when John McCain selected only the second woman in history to be on a major-party ticket. He chose a governor of a state critical to our energy crisis. She is a very popular governor with an 80-percent approval rate. She was elected on her own merit without previous political ties. She is her own political creation, not the wife, daughter, sister or mistress of a politician.
I thought Americans would be proud of her nomination, whether we agreed or disagreed with her on the issues. Was I in for a shock.
The sexism that I believed had been eradicated was lurking, like some creature from the black lagoon, just below the surface. Suddenly it erupted and in some unexpected places.
Instead of engaging Palin on the issues, critics attacked attributes that are specifically female. It is Hillary’s pantsuit drama to the power of 10. Palin’s hair, her voice, her motherhood, and her personal hygiene were substituted for substance. That’s when it was nice.
The hatred escalated to performers advocating Palin be “gang raped,” to suggestions that her husband had had sex with their young daughters, and reports that her Down syndrome child really was that of her teenage daughter. One columnist even called for her to submit to DNA testing to prove her virtue. Smells a little like Salem to me. I was present at an Obama rally at which the mention of Palin’s name drew shouts of “stone her.”
“Stone her”? How biblical.
I could have saved the author all the trouble of wondering why this happens by simply observing the behavior and values of the Democratic party. Hillary, for the most part, came under attack from the Right for her leftist leanings and her Bubba Clinton-like approach to domestic and foreign policy.
When the left rears its ugly head over female candidates, it’s the Republicans on the receiving end of sexist smears.
And what about the female Democrats? Nothing but love, baby:
The New York Times Editorial on the pick of Geraldine Ferraro as the 1984 Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate:
Where is it written that only senators are qualified to become President? Surely Ronald Reagan does not subscribe to that maxim. Or where is it written that mere representatives aren’t qualified, like Geraldine Ferraro of Queens? Representative Morris Udall, who lost New Hampshire to Jimmy Carter by a hair in 1976, must surely disagree. So must a longtime Michigan Congressman named Gerald Ford. Where is it written that governors and mayors, like Dianne Feinstein of San Francisco, are too local, too provincial? That didn’t stop Richard Nixon from picking Spiro Agnew, a suburban politician who became Governor of Maryland. Remember the main foreign affairs credential of Georgia’s Governor Carter: He was a member of the Trilateral Commission. Presidential candidates have always chosen their running mates for reasons of practical demography, not idealized democracy.
One might even say demography is destiny: this candidate was chosen because he could deliver Texas, that one because he personified rectitude, that one because he appealed to the other wing of the party. On occasion, Americans find it necessary to rationalize this rough-and-ready process. What a splendid system, we say to ourselves, that takes little-known men, tests them in high office and permits them to grow into statesmen. This rationale may even be right, but then let it also be fair. Why shouldn’t a little-known woman have the same opportunity to grow? We may even be gradually elevating our standards for choosing Vice Presidential candidates. But that should be done fairly, also. Meanwhile, the indispensable credential for a Woman Who is the same as for a Man Who – one who helps the ticket.
Palin on the other hand, is villified because of her gender by a leftwing establishment that prides itself for its ‘social consciousness’ and ‘equal rights’.
That’s always been bullshit, anyway.