The oval office marriage

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Like pretty much everyone else, I know almost nothing about Sarah Palin. As an Obama supporter, I’m generally happy about McCain choosing her, since the qualifications gap is gargantuan. Ultimately, I don’t think that this strategy will work to bring in Clinton supporters, but I do think it’s going to be fascinating to watch how women’s reactions unfold.

The blogosphere is vibrating with intense responses to the selection of Palin, mostly predictable, but at least some [as linked in Ann's previous post] from women who think that attacks on Palin by Dems and media white boys will remind women of the misogyny directed against Clinton’s campaign, moving them to skip the top of the ticket or even vote Republican. I hope they’re wrong.

What worries me are the visuals. It’s a pretty common dynamic for a male and female co-worker to team up in an “office marriage,” psychologically as well as for instrumental reasons. I think it will look and feel familiar to a lot of voters. The gender “optics” are good, as politicos love to say, especially when the senior executive of the pair is the man, and the woman, a rising star in middle management. In truth, this kind of mentoring is how a lot of women in corporate jobs break through the glass ceiling. It’s neoliberal feminism in a snapshot.

If the Dems (and the liberal media pundits) go all frat boy, joking about the dumb beauty queen; and if Palin turns out to be genuinely smart and impressive even if inexperienced, Obama could blow the election that is still his to lose. Please, guys, don’t be that stupid.

Nan Hunter – cross posted at hunter of justice

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0 Responses to The oval office marriage

  1. I completely agree with Nan and Ann about the danger of the media and Democratic pundits responding to Palin’s nomination with disrespect. At the same time I have no doubt that Obama himself will be entirely respectful of her.

    The pick really challenges those of us who are feminists to ask what is sexism? As I’ve thought about the pick more, to me it is the essence of sexism. Sexism is the belief that a person’s gender defines their intelligence, character and worth as individual. Sexism is also defined by the differential treatment of women on the basis of their gender. McCain’s essential belief in making this choice is that all women are interchangeable (Palin =Hillary), and that women just want to vote for other women regardless of that woman’s beliefs or qualifications. Democrats should stick to talking about Palin’s views on the issues, what this pick says about McCain’s judgment, and Palin’s qualifications to be vice president. We should also confront sexism not just in terms of sexist remarks made about Palin, but we must call out the sexism underlying the pick itself.

  2. Francine Lipman says:

    Thank you Nan Hunter for your thoughtful comments. Indeed WE must be proactive about this election and not sit back and let “frat boys” or anyone else destroy the progress WE (including those that went before) have made to date and the promise of continued progress. There is so much at stake for all WOMEN and men existing and forthcoming. Even though we do not know much about Governor Sarah Palin, there is NO DOUBT she is loudly and proudly PRO-LIFE. While I support her right to make that choice for herself and her family. This choice of VP made by John McCain tells me exactly what a President John McCain will do if he has the opportunity to appoint three (or any) Supreme Court justices as expected in the next four years. As a feminist and a law professor, I am deeply concerned about the composition of the Supreme Court. Enough damage has been done the last eight years. In the wise words of Elie Wiesel, Inaction is not an option as it is action.

  3. Ann Bartow says:

    Danielle, I agree that Obama will not himself make sexist slurs against Palin. But maybe he could ask his supporters who are doing so to stop it? I’m voting for him anyway, but that would sure make me happy!

  4. Ann-
    I have read a lot of sexist comments about Palin on Daily Kos, Huffington Post and the MSM websites, but I haven’t seen any Obama surrogates making sexist comments about Palin. I don’t think Obama can reasonably be held responsible for every individual who supports him, but in his respectful treatment of Palin he is leading by example.

  5. Ann Bartow says:

    I’m hopeful his surrogates won’t make sexist comments about Sarah Palin. And let’s face it, there are plenty of things they can criticize about her without her gender being an issue. But instead of just leading by example, Obama could lead, period, by denouncing the sexist attacks.

  6. hysperia says:

    Yes Ann, I have to agree. Though I’ve not yet heard an Obama surrogate respond in a sexist fashion, the explosion of misogyny is not just in the blogsphere, but all over the media, conservative and liberal. Surely that is worthy of comment? But I’ve heard many women say they’ll be peeved if Obama defends Palin after most certainly NOT defending Clinton over media sexism. What a MESS!