Wednesday, September 03, 2008


OK.  At some point last Friday or Thursday, I found myself caught up in the media siren about Sarah Palin.  It's like being on the sidewalk and hearing the ambulances coming, wondering what's going on, with the whoop-whoop sound getting louder and louder until it completely fills your head.  And then it goes by, and you find yourself watching it as it retreats, thanking god it's finally gone.

I was amazed at how badly the media was able to rub salt in my various wounds.  And now, shading my eyes and watching the psycho wagon screech down the street, alarms blaring, I can finally understand some of the joy, albeit slightly hypocritical, some of my fellow Democrats found in making fun of Palin.  It is something when the people who've been judging you for years are finally judged.  And it is amazing that the McCain camp seems completely taken by surprise at the fact that the MSM really IS as sexist as the Republicans are.  The growing sense of disbelief at that on the part of McCain's staffers is becoming palpable.

Anyway, I still don't see what's gained in the end by touting the same standards as the Republicans really did: moms & full-time work don't really mix, self-righteousness about the teen pregnancy deal, smugness (as Ruth Marcus exhibited today) about how easy the "choice" about having or not having a special needs child would be.  All that has come up on the supposedly progressive side.  Our focus needs to be on what, other than or in addition to abortion rights, will enable the economic parity of women in this country, especially that of mothers.

And all of this criticism of teen pregnancy seems to obviate the fact that Barack Obama's mother chose to continue her pregnancy at a young age, at a point in time when it could hardly have been convenient for her: in terms of her age, her education, and in terms of significant societal racism.  She fought hard to both raise her children, obtain her college and graduate educations, and work.  I keep thinking that Obama must get it--that's why I voted for him in the primaries and not Hillary--but if only he doesn't get sidetracked by all the sexist hacks in the Democratic party.

So--enough of this topic.  The Republicans' cheer does look a tad grim tonight.


Elizabeth said...

Interesting thoughts, Geneva. Call me an elitist but I'm starting to think that what everything really boils down to is just plain old I.Q.

And I've also been thinking about Jonathan Swift and what fantastic satire might be written about all of this.

jeneva said...

Oh, I call myself an elitist all the time. Actually, I don't try to pretend much anymore that I am not. Do you mean economic parity boils down to IQ? Or that the election does? In terms of the first point, one of the reasons I've been so interested in the economic parity issue is watching various marriages around me hit difficult periods because of money--and a lot of it related to the wife's status--every permutation one can think of in terms of unfairness. In terms of the second point--that I am more willing to believe!

I like what you say about Jonathan Swift--are there really any good satirists anymore?

Elizabeth said...

I didn't mean anything nearly as sophisticated as you've said -- I meant that everything boils down to: some people are just not smart. Dumb, actually. And I'm not talking about emotional intelligence or any of that mumbo-jumbo. I mean DUMB -- literally. And I think the people who think Sarah Palin is a spitfire, fabulous, etc. are just plain dumb. As for satire, I'm thinking that we are seeing Swiftian satire IN REAL LIFE. I mean this is like Gulliver's Travels, right?

jeneva said...

I hope I haven't given you the impression that I think Sarah Palin is fabulous! I've tried to focus mostly on what I've come to see as the ironies of her presentation. Before McCain announced her, I had been disappointed in the way Democratic female leaders had been presented at the Democratic Convention. And generally, I've been disappointed that I can't seem to find outlets for my own feminist leanings that don't involve having to take sides in the abortion debate (which I would rather move past), or break down into false dichotomies over the mommy wars.

To me, it doesn't matter who stays home or goes to work or who supports abortion or who doesn't. What matters is finding a collective point from which to move forward toward economic and domestic parity. I understand that there will be some women who do not share those goals at all--but men can't agree on everything, either.

My mother-in-law just sent me a piece by Gloria Steinem , dated 9/4/08, but no link, no mention of which newspaper. Steinem says, in criticizing Palin: Feminism has never been about getting a job for one woman. It's about making life more fair for women everywhere. It's not about a piece of the existing pie; there are too many of us for that. It's about baking a new pie."

My question is, hasn't this message gotten lost in the abortion and mommy wars?

And, wow, your comment about living Gulliver's Travels is certainly true. Palin, in many ways, is like this strange, fantastical character of obvious irony and paradox--the fabulous (as in fable, not wonderful) aspects of her character are right out of something like Swift--she hunts MOOSE and skins them, she's feminist and anti-feminist at the same time, not a moral eye is batted over the teenage pregnancy from a cohort that used to think such things, and so on. She is larger than life in a satiric way.

Elizabeth said...

Amen. And thank you for your very wise and articulate words about economic parity -- I tend to argue with my emotions and depend almost entirely on a biting wit, I guess. A good friend of mine who has a child with special needs is an incredible advocate and understands government. She and I are going to try to write an Op-Ed piece together about all of this for the Los Angeles Times. I will email her "open" letter to Gov. Palin. Cheers and have a wonderful weekend!