GLORIA STEINEM: Palin [is] Wrong Woman, Wrong Message

You really don't want to hear any editorializing from me on Gloria Steinem's brilliant op-ed in today's LA Times.  Follow the link to read the full text: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-o e-steinem4-2008sep04,0,7541303.story

Here's the good news: Women have become so politically powerful that even the anti-feminist right wing -- the folks with a headlock on the Republican Party -- are trying to appease the gender gap with a first-ever female vice president. We owe this to women -- and to many men too -- who have picketed, gone on hunger strikes or confronted violence at the polls so women can vote. We owe it to Shirley Chisholm, who first took the "white-male-only" sign off the White House, and to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who hung in there through ridicule and misogyny to win 18 million votes.

But here is even better news: It won't work. This isn't the first time a boss has picked an unqualified woman just because she agrees with him and opposes everything most other women want and need. 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.

Selecting Sarah Palin, who was touted all summer by Rush Limbaugh, is no way to attract most women, including die-hard Clinton supporters. Palin shares nothing but a chromosome with Clinton. Her down-home, divisive and deceptive speech did nothing to cosmeticize a Republican convention that has more than twice as many male delegates as female, a presidential candidate who is owned and operated by the right wing and a platform that opposes pretty much everything Clinton's candidacy stood for -- and that Barack Obama's still does. To vote in protest for McCain/Palin would be like saying, "Somebody stole my shoes, so I'll amputate my legs."

This is not to beat up on Palin. I defend her right to be wrong, even on issues that matter most to me. I regret that people say she can't do the job because she has children in need of care, especially if they wouldn't say the same about a father. I get no pleasure from imagining her in the spotlight on national and foreign policy issues about which she has zero background, with one month to learn to compete with Sen. Joe Biden's 37 years' experience.

More after the bump.

She was elected governor largely because the incumbent was unpopular, and she's won over Alaskans mostly by using unprecedented oil wealth to give a $1,200 rebate to every resident. Now she is being praised by McCain's campaign as a tax cutter, despite the fact that Alaska has no state income or sales tax. Perhaps McCain has opposed affirmative action for so long that he doesn't know it's about inviting more people to meet standards, not lowering them. Or perhaps McCain is following the Bush administration habit, as in the Justice Department, of putting a job candidate's views on "God, guns and gays" ahead of competence. The difference is that McCain is filling a job one 72-year-old heartbeat away from the presidency.

So let's be clear: The culprit is John McCain. He may have chosen Palin out of change-envy, or a belief that women can't tell the difference between form and content, but the main motive was to please right-wing ideologues; the same ones who nixed anyone who is now or ever has been a supporter of reproductive freedom. If that were not the case, McCain could have chosen a woman who knows what a vice president does and who has thought about Iraq; someone like Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison or Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine. McCain could have taken a baby step away from right-wing patriarchs who determine his actions, right down to opposing the Violence Against Women Act.

Palin's value to those patriarchs is clear: She opposes just about every issue that women support by a majority or plurality. She believes that creationism should be taught in public schools but disbelieves global warming; she opposes gun control but supports government control of women's wombs; she opposes stem cell research but approves "abstinence-only" programs, which increase unwanted births, sexually transmitted diseases and abortions; she tried to use taxpayers' millions for a state program to shoot wolves from the air but didn't spend enough money to fix a state school system with the lowest high-school graduation rate in the nation; she runs with a candidate who opposes the Fair Pay Act but supports $500 million in subsidies for a natural gas pipeline across Alaska; she supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, though even McCain has opted for the lesser evil of offshore drilling. She is Phyllis Schlafly, only younger.

- snip -

Being a hope-a-holic, however, I can see two long-term bipartisan gains from this contest.

Republicans may learn they can't appeal to right-wing patriarchs and most women at the same time. A loss in November could cause the centrist majority of Republicans to take back their party, which was the first to support the Equal Rights Amendment and should be the last to want to invite government into the wombs of women.

And American women, who suffer more because of having two full-time jobs than from any other single injustice, finally have support on a national stage from male leaders who know that women can't be equal outside the home until men are equal in it. Barack Obama and Joe Biden are campaigning on their belief that men should be, can be and want to be at home for their children.

This could be huge.

Okay, one line of editorializing:  I'm damn proud to be in Gloria's party!

(emphasis added)

Now do go to the LAT & read the full piece. The bits I left out are just as urgent as the passages I shared here. http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-o e-steinem4-2008sep04,0,7541303.story

Tags: Barack Obama, feminism, Hillary Clinton, HRC, John McCain, Sarah Palin, sexism (all tags)

Comments

19 Comments

The Right Way to Start the Day!

Quite a contrast to the hate-fest we witnessed last night.  

This was a great way for me to start the day!

by January 20 2008-09-04 04:12AM | 0 recs
Re: GLORIA STEINEM: Palin [is] Wrong Woman, Wrong

A great editorial and right on the money. Thanks for posting!

by jsfox 2008-09-04 04:21AM | 0 recs
Palin [is] Wrong Woman, Wrong Message
I was listening to C-Span this morning, and while the right wingers are thrilled, more moderate Republicans were asking why she didn't focus on issues. I think moderates are getting tired of the evangelicals running their party.
Gloria is right, this is just another radical, hypocritical right wing Republican, in the guise of a woman.
by skohayes 2008-09-04 04:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Palin [is] Wrong Woman, Wrong Message

This is why I dont' think McCain will win. This woman only energizes the Republican base but nothing else.

I have already read about three focus groups in swing states where HRC supporters and independents were completely turned off by her. The only people that liked her speech were Republicans.

I always feared Kay Bailey Hutchinson because she is a moderate but Palin is not going to win the day for McCain. Sorry.

by sweet potato pie 2008-09-04 05:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Palin [is] Wrong Woman, Wrong Message

I agree with you.  

But I really want to address you handle:  I had Sweet Potato Pecan Pie at K-Paul's Kitchen in New Orleans.  Far and away the finest dessert I've ever had.  Whenever see your comments I grow hungry,

by January 20 2008-09-04 08:39AM | 0 recs
Wrong PERSON

Why do we need to keep coming back to the fact that Palin is a woman, anyway?

Can we simply describe her as a dangerous extremist, possibly antisemitic, possibly secessionist, oblivious to abuse of power, seeing herself as a vessel of divine intervention, really really bad candidate.  I'm not sure why, at this point, what anyone says about her as a woman even matters.  She is so bad gender ceases to be a factor at all.

by mady 2008-09-04 06:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Wrong PERSON

That's a great point.  Unfortunately, since the Republicans have nothing substantive to offer, they're running on "history" (and hate).

by rfahey22 2008-09-04 07:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Wrong PERSON

Agreed, but I would rather we avoided this trap completely and stayed out of any discussion of Palin's female credentials.

by mady 2008-09-04 07:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Wrong PERSON

The reason we keep coming back to the fact that Palin is a woman is that when we do describe her as "a dangerous extremist, possibly antisemitic, possibly secessionist, oblivious to abuse of power, seeing herself as a vessel of divine intervention, really really bad candidate" (and, I might add, woefully inadequate if McCain should pass on and she should ascend to the presidency), Bush-McCain's Republican surrogates call us sexist.  When we're accused of sexism simply for holding Palin to a ridiculously low standard for public service - to say nothing of holding her to the standard of a potential leader of the free world - her gender definitely comes into play.

by mistersite 2008-09-04 07:48AM | 0 recs
Re: GLORIA STEINEM: Palin [is] Wrong Woman, Wrong

Jan20 Thanks for posting this Op-ed. We need to get this message out!

by dannybauder 2008-09-04 07:00AM | 0 recs
The more they vet...

Please forgive me for hijacking my own diary but I'm heading out & want to leave you with these fresh delights without actually bothering to post another diary.

1 - Palin's Earmarks: Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

http://www.washingtonindependent.com/432 8/more-on-palins-true-stand-on-earmarks

Palin's "Command" of the Alaskan Guard: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/homepage/stor y/51665.html

Oh Sarah, you really are the gift that keeps giving!

Have a great day everyone!

by January 20 2008-09-04 07:26AM | 0 recs
Re: GLORIA STEINEM: Palin [is]

Yes, Palin energized the base alright.  The democratic base.

I don't think I've seen the liberal blogosphere more united this campaign season than yesterday and today after that jaw-droppingly divisive speech we heard from partisan-rightwing radical Palin yesterday.

by ProfessorReo 2008-09-04 08:08AM | 0 recs
Wow

Steinem hit the nail right on the head, both praising Obama-Biden and giving a great, deserved trashing to McCain-Palin.

My favorite line is this: "To vote in protest for McCain/Palin would be like saying, 'Somebody stole my shoes, so I'll amputate my legs.'"

by TheUnknown285 2008-09-04 10:05AM | 0 recs
Great write up

Thank you for this.

by netgui68 2008-09-04 11:17AM | 0 recs
sorry.

fail to steinhem.  

and you know what this playing right into the GOP  trap to show independent and GOP women that women on the left only stand for feminists that share their political views.

here's righty piece that touches on it.  something is v. wrong when people ignore or diminish (on its face) the first female candidate for a party when they don't happen to agree with her ideology.

by canadian gal 2008-09-04 12:01PM | 0 recs
Re: sorry.

Do you really think the primary problem with Palin is that she's being subjected to sexism rather than an attempt at a rigorous deconstruction of her career, politics, political views and agenda?  

I don't disagree that there's a dose of sexism in there as well but I also point out that she was transparently used as a living, breathing, three-dimensional gender card.  That doesn't make it any more acceptable but it makes it almost impossible to avoid the issue altogether.  

I fell the family should be off-limits for all politicians but that includes those, such as Palin who has been using her family as an example of her political fundamentals.  

I think Steinem is fair and considered in this piece.  Your link to the Right-wing Telegraphs and the comparison to Thatcher is a little much though.

For the most part, people are not diminishing Palin because she's a woman.  They're digging into what she is as a political figure & why on earth she is suited for the #2 office in the land aside from being a woman.  

by January 20 2008-09-04 03:42PM | 0 recs
Re: sorry.

Do you really think the primary problem with Palin is that she's being subjected to sexism rather than an attempt at a rigorous deconstruction of her career, politics, political views and agenda?
 

one thing has nothing to do with the other.  and newsflash many agree with me - some that share my views (biden, shakesville. etc) and some that don't like the piece i cited.

I don't disagree that there's a dose of sexism in there as well but I also point out that she was transparently used as a living, breathing, three-dimensional gender card.  That doesn't make it any more acceptable but it makes it almost impossible to avoid the issue altogether.

a dose of?  what does a dose of mean?  the fact that you use the term 'gender card' illustrates to me that you in fact are complicit in this.

I fell the family should be off-limits for all politicians but that includes those, such as Palin who has been using her family as an example of her political fundamentals.
 

she is using her family just like any politician does, the fact that you think you can judge her for this adds to my point.

I think Steinem is fair and considered in this piece.  Your link to the Right-wing Telegraphs and the comparison to Thatcher is a little much though.

sorry - but i dont see your point.  the woman in question is a rightie (palin).  would it not make sense to cite a conservative woman's view on this?

For the most part, people are not diminishing Palin because she's a woman.  They're digging into what she is as a political figure & why on earth she is suited for the #2 office in the land aside from being a woman.  

i dont agree with the first part....  but wish they would stick to the second.

by canadian gal 2008-09-04 04:58PM | 0 recs
Re: sorry.

Thanks for calling me a sexist.  Sorry I can't live up to your standards.

by January 20 2008-09-04 05:35PM | 0 recs
Sorry - don't agree - Margaret Thatcher

is not my idea of a role model for women.  

The essence of feminism for me includes anti-racism, anti-ageism, anti-homophobia and anti-classism.

I am supposed to applaud Sarah Palin for being a Pander First?  No way.

I am black - and I loathe Clarence Thomas.  Am I supposed to be proud he is on the Supreme Court?  Hell no.  

This woman is a right-wing nutter, being used by a right wing nutter,  

Diminish?  Yes, she diminishes me, and all I've struggled for for 60 years.    

by NeciVelez 2008-09-04 12:33PM | 0 recs

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