Echidne of the Snakes has written a brilliant essay about the current state of political discourse among the Supposedly Liberal Doods. Below are a few excerpts, but you should go read the whole thing.
… The first black and/or female students at elite universities were superbly talented individuals, often most carefully groomed for the jobs of being Firsts. Jackie Robinson, the first black baseball player introduced into white professional baseball player was not just an excellent player; he had also attended UCLA and served as a second lieutenant in the army. His self-control was impeccable. That he was all this was not a random accident but a very careful choice by those who wanted to integrate professional baseball.
This is how the Firsts are usually chosen. Usually, but not in the case of Sarah Palin. Yet she IS the first Republican female vice-presidential candidate and this allows her to be viewed by the sexists among us as the best women can offer (or at least the best Republican women can offer). It allows the sexists among us to make fun of all women in the disguise of making fun of only Sarah Palin. And trying to differentiate between these two intentions is almost impossible. …
… Not being “the other” has some great advantages. For instance, when John McCain or Joe Biden do something stupid they only affect their own reputations, because white men are not “the other”. They are individuals. When Barack Obama or Sarah Palin do something stupid they affect the reputations of African-Americans or women respectively (at least among all racists and sexists). They serve as embodiments of the groups they represent. This is the case as long as Firsts are necessary, as long as we only have a handful of individuals on which to base our group assessments. …
There are obvious parallels in legal education. When only a few women were admitted to law schools, they were superstars, folks like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sandra Day O’Connor, and some of the more senior folks in the blogroll to your right who paved the way for more ordinary mortals like me.
I emphatically DO NOT want to see McCain/Palin win this election. But it’s not just Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Nancy Pelosi, Geraldine Ferraro and other Democrats who have helped advance women in politics. Sarah Palin is taking a lot of metaphorical body blows for all working women with children, for all women who did not attend elite colleges, for all women who want to be both pretty and taken seriously. I wish more feminists could get past their powerful desire to see Obama elected, which I share, and call out the sexism being spewed by so many Supposedly Liberal Doods. I’m very grateful to folks like Echidne for doing this.