Friday, November 20, 2009

Hating Sarah Palin

You won't be surprised to hear it but there are salons and cocktail parties that will only allow you to enter if you pronounce the right password: IhateSarahPalin. You must say it loudly, with feeling.

Palinhatred has now become so pronounced in the media and among the liberal intelligentsia that it seems to have a life of its own. It is no longer about electing Barack Obama; it is no longer about undermining the governor of Alaska.

If you think that it is a preemptive attack on a possible presidential candidate, you should also know that Sarah Palin would not make a very strong candidate. By 2012 America will likely have had its fill of inexperience. And besides, there is the not-so-small matter of her having quit...

Admittedly, Sarah Palin is not really a very influential political figure; she is neither sufficiently informed nor sufficiently articulate to lead a challenge to Democratic hegemony. And yet, she still attracts a level of mindless vitriol that has made her an increasingly sympathetic figure. The spectacle of feminists attacking Sarah Palin with a discourse that expresses little more than a visceral misogyny has inevitably provoked a counterreaction.

Sarah Palin might not be a feminist-in-full, but she is, as I posted about last year, a woman-in-full. Some people are not about to forgive her for this.

Palinhatred seems then to be a cultural phenomenon; her new book has turned a small skirmish into a large battle in the culture wars.

To read some of the reactions to Sarah Palin you would think that you were watching a band of Puritan scolds that had just discovered a witch in its midst. The attacks on Palin have the feel of a witch hunt, against someone who threatens them at a level that they are barely able to articulate.

Of course, this effort to drive a stake through the heart of the Republican witch contains its own delicious irony. Way back when, in 15th century Europe, witches were persecuted because they were thought to be responsible of male sexual dysfunction. The classical Inquisitors manual, written in 1485, called "The Malleus Maleficarum," reads like a prototype for later works in the field of sex therapy.

By those standards Sarah Palin would be anything but a witch. She is more vamp than witch, more temptress than witch. Compared to Hillary Clinton, the great of heroine of the feminist matriarchy, Sarah Palin is, I would say, more womanly.

And the love and adoration of Hillary Clinton is part and parcel with the hatred of Sarah Palin.

Bill Clinton did marry the mousy and not very attractive Hillary Rodham, but his lust was always directed elsewhere, toward the Sarah Palins of this world. If you were a Hillary acolyte that would make you crazy too.

It all goes back to college. Remember when the coolest and brightest guy in the class developed a strange friendship with a nerdy, not very attractive woman. She was with him in the library; she helped him with his term papers; she prepped him for his exams; she gave him advice, counsel, and succor freely and unstintingly.

She was always there for him, devoted, loving, and caring. She was his intellectual equal, his Platonic soulmate.

But she was not the prettiest or sexiest in the class. She did not imagine that she could ever seduce him or charm him or lure him into a relationship with her. Unrealistic as it may have seemed to some she still lusted after him, she yearned for his touch, she pined away for him, she craved him with every fiber of her being.

Besides, he owed her. She had given him everything he ever asked of her, and wound have given him more, if only he had wanted it. She had done it selflessly, yet, she knew that he owed her.

How do you think she felt when he turned away from her and ran off with a woman like Sarah Palin. Can you imagine how much venom she bears toward any woman who reminds her of Sarah Palin?

With all she has done for him, with everything that they meant to each other, he gets lured away from her by something as vulgar and pedestrian as feminine wiles.

She does not blame the man. She knows that men are weak and susceptible to feminine machinations. She blames the woman, and bears a hatred toward her and her ilk that knows few bounds.

To a certain type of woman, Sarah Palin represents someone who is inferior to her in all but one way, and yet, who gets HER man.

Of course, on rare occasions the mousy library mate does manage to get the man. As in, Hillary Rodham. To all of those intellectual, career-driven women who have been shunted aside in favor of feminine glamor and beauty Hillary Rodham is a heroine.

Against all odds, she married the handsome, brilliant guy. And yet, he still succumbed to the siren songs of brazen hussies like Sarah Palin.

If you were Hillary Clinton, you put up with it, you suffered the repeated humiliations, because you know that you got the biggest prize of all. He comes home to you. Maybe he reeks of some other woman's perfume; maybe his antics are threatening your own all-consuming ambition; but, at the end of the day, he is yours.

Besides, if you are Hillary Clinton or one of the other library mates, you have chosen not to enhance your femininity. You are a true believing feminist. You learned from Betty Friedan that femininity is a mystique and you read in Naomi Wolf that beauty was a myth.

Thus, you sacrificed your femininity, or better, you traded it in for a career. You might not have done as well as Hillary did in landing the world's leading womanizer, but you have risen up through the corporate or professional world.

You are convinced that the patriarchy would never have allowed it if you had come across as cute and charming and sexy in a traditional feminine way. The patriarchy was threatened by real women. You know it because your feminist sisters told you so. You wanted to advance the cause of women's liberation, if that cost you your femininity, well, it was only a patriarchal construct anyway.

Of you are one of those women Sarah Palin is your worst nightmare. The notion that she could succeed in building a successful political career without sacrificing her femininity appalls women who made the sacrifice. Better to hate Sarah Palin than to think that they may have made a grievous mistake, that they might have suppressed something essential in their being in order to join up with an ideological cause.

For that they despise her, not for anything she has said, but for what her life represents, and, most especially, for the feelings of doubt that her life calls up from the darker corners of their souls.

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