The sudden rush of feminist rage from the most unlikely of places — the conservative Republican Right — has me sputtering in a way I haven’t in 35 years.
In 1973, I was college freshman on fire for women’s rights and equality. I had all the talking points at my fingertips, my cherished copy of the first MS. Magazine was still intact and I was known to spoil every family gathering as I did battle with sexist pigs whereever I could find them, which at the time was everyfuckingwhere.
Just as I felt I was gaining a toehold in my personal piece of the war’s turf, in drops Bobby Riggs, Billie Jean King and the “Battle of the Sexes” to set back the kitchen table front of feminist movement at least ten years.
And here we go again — just as women have taken a decisive leap forward, here comes the co-opting of feminism refashioned for the lowest common demoninator into an argument we can’t help but lose. And her name is Sarah Palin.
No offense meant to Billie Jean King, (and certainly no comparisons to Caribou Barbie) but besting an old fart hasbeen 25 years your senior when you are at the top of your world champion game was no great stride for feminism. If anything the “Battle of the Sexes,” perhaps the most watched and discussed television event of 1973, only rearmed the other side with limitless blather about double standards and gave that sexist asshole Riggs much more airtime than he ever deserved. Then and now, I never could understand what the hell Billie Jean was thinking.
Ah yes, back to Sarah Palin. Every fiber of my being recoils at the notions that A) I must somehow defend her on feminists grounds and B) that her “candidacy” is some symbolic grand step forward for women. Someone explain to me again how serving as the perfect pandering token chosen by a letch who can’t keep his eyes off your ass makes one a feminist icon? Because I’m sick to my stomach imagining Sarah Palin’s face (or?) on the next two dollar bill.
Over the past two weeks I’ve run around in my own head, just as I did with Billie and Bobby, trying to express my thoughts without sputtering. Let’s start with the basics — Sarah Palin is NOT a leap forward for American women. No no, Sarah Palin is at least 75 steps back and only Hillary Clinton limits it to that. Just as Hillary shattered once and for all the notion that women are somehow unfit for the highest office, enter the one woman who might just convince the majority they are, and fuck you John McCain, you sexist lecherous dinosaur for making that possible.
As I listen to rightwing talking bad hair days lecture ME about feminists doctrine, using Sarah Palin as their foil, I want to scream but no words come out — how shameless ARE these people in co-opting everything? First it was Jesus, then it was working people, then it was the flag, now this? Leave my ideology alone, you, you, you… bah!
No, I did not mean to suggest that having five children leaves a woman unfit for public office. Having the experience and the insights of my local school board president makes her unfit for THIS office. No, I do not assume she’s dumb because she’s attractive. I assume she’s dumb because when she opens her mouth dumb things come out of it. Yes, I understand that intelligent capable women can be pro-life. Unfortunately, this particular woman is neither.
What hard-working capable intelligent woman hasn’t been “passed over” by some perky spunky bubble-head in a nice blouse and then been told it was a victory for thier gender? It happens in factories, offices, academic environments and in every sector of the workworld every damn day.
Yes, I don’t get to assume she’s successful only because of her looks and her “personality”, but I do get to believe that when the proof is as plain as day. And every time a woman is promoted above her abilities to fill some quota or to “appeal” to other women we all look a little less capable and we all look a little more stupid.
When Billie Jean beat Bobby Riggs the Walmart crowd learned something — gee shucks — a woman CAN beat a man nearly twice her age while he publically mocks her — yee haw, now get your bitch ass in the kitchen and make me some pie. Sarah Palin breaks no new ground, she shatters no ceilings, if she proves herself nothing more than a cartoon cutout of a “modern day women” destine, inevitably, for embarassment and failure.
Nominate all the joke token candidates you want, Grand Old Assclown Party, but don’t serve me a turd and tell me it’s a chocolate sundae. I’ll know a victory for women when I see one (I DID just see one as a matter of fact) and I’ll thank you to get your grubby rights smashing boots off my lifelong feminist lawn.
Do us all a big fat favor and focus in on your feminist icon’s REAL qualifications (or lack there of ) and leave the Revolution out of this.
I’m getting myself a wet washcloth now. Thanks for listening.