Monday, July 6, 2009

Who's The Feminist?

Recently, my fellow NQ writer, Linda Anselmi, found this article, which she kindly shared with me. It is quite an interesting take on why some women are so threatened by, um, no, wait, that's not how the author, Ann Marlowe, would phrase it. More for her, why they don't like her, as the title, "Why Elite Women Hate Palin," would indicate.

Ah, yes, right off the bat, it sets the stage, doesn't it? Uh, yeah:
"If Sarah Palin is qualified to be a heartbeat away from the presidency, so am I!"

These words spoken by my friend Janet were true. But Janet hasn't put herself in Palin's position by running for office. She's made films and renovated houses, cushioned by inherited money. And since she doesn't have any kids, it's hard to say what would have gotten in the way if she'd wanted to be in politics. She didn't, though, any more than 99% of my women friends and acquaintances; she believes in cultivating one's own garden.

Most women I've talked with about Palin--all certified members of either the media elite or the just plain elite--take her nomination personally. Their animus isn't explained just by her politics; none of them hate Condoleezza Rice, though they disagree with most everything she's done. Nor, for that matter, do they even dislike John McCain. Typically they "respect" McCain but find him too old or too erratic or simply adore Obama.

It's as though Palin were an average girl from their boarding school class--or, frankly, from the public school down the road--who unexpectedly won a big prize. "Why not me?" is the subtext, and it's one I've never heard from men talking about male politicians. Many New Yorkers hate George Bush, for instance, and say similar things about his and Palin's lack of intellectual capability and curiosity about the wider world. But they don't view him as a personal rival.

My friends who hate Palin are all more articulate and better educated than she is, better traveled, probably smarter, definitely more fun to talk with. But the reasons they can't stand Palin are all wrong.

I think it is safe to say that by "elite," the author means: sanctimonious, classist, arrogant, snobs. And I would have to say, after reading the above about the author's friends, I guarantee you, I would rather hang out with Sarah Palin ANY DAY of the week, despite our differences on policies. At least SHE is open minded, willing to engage in dialogue, and can appreciate the differences between people without feeling compelled to put them down at every opportunity. So, yeah - despite my own educational background, or how much I have traveled, blah, blah, blah, I'd rather have a cup of coffee with Gov. Palin any day of the week, thank you very much.

Oh, but wait, you know there's more:
It's not so much that Palin isn't one of our own--an Ivy League type, or an Eastern preppie, or a self-made intellectual like Rice. It's not for the fake feminist reasons that "she's against freedom of choice" or "she didn't tell her daughter about birth control." (Though there is an element of hatred for her fertility, and the fact that it hasn't impeded her rise.) It's not because Palin only got a passport a few years ago and doesn't speak any foreign languages.

No, it's because Palin makes us look like the slackers we mainly are. We've had our bit of success, but we've also spent a lot of time smelling the roses. We've gone back to school to get another degree, volunteered in poor countries, devoted ourselves to a sport or a hobby. We've not had kids, or if we have, we've had one or two, and we've had nannies paid for by our work or our husbands or our inherited money.

We not only have had passports for decades, we've put serious mileage on them. We've lived overseas or spent months wandering around Africa or India, we understand foreign people and places in ways Palin never will--and yet it's she who could become vice president, not one of us.

Wow, even in this explanation, that these women are "slackers," she STILL manages to put down Palin at every opportunity. It doesn't seem like HUMILITY was one of the lessons learned "wandering around Africa and India," or for those who "volunteered in poor countries." I might add, nor did they seem to get a clue about their over-inflated sense of self, or how they got to where they are on the backs of other people, so yeah, let's just go with they are "slackers. " Just sayin'.

Ms. Marlowe continues, again in her "elite" way, to describe why certain people pursue these avenues, like Gov. Palin has:
It's not hard to see why. The boyfriend of one of my freshman roommates at Harvard is now governor of Massachusetts--a man no less and no more qualified than many of my classmates. Why him and not us? As with Palin, it comes down to wanting it badly enough and being singleminded. It means spending a lot of time in deadly dull meetings talking about school bond issues or where to put a new off-ramp.

It means spending a lot of time in small towns where no one you know has a country place or ever will. And except at the higher reaches, politics doesn't offer much in the way of glamour or fame. I just got my absentee ballot here in New York City, and I didn't recognize the names of the people running for Congress. (Jerrold Nadler or Grace Lin, anyone? Nadler has been the congressman from New York's 8th District since 1992, and Grace Lin is a 24-year-old graduate of the University of Chicago whose previous experience is as a committeewoman for a Chicago ward. While her chances of victory are nil in this district, her Web site is frighteningly sketchy on the issues.)

People who become writers and intellectuals and artists tend not to want power that badly or pursue it that obsessively, which is what makes us interesting and fun--and makes few of us household names. Success at the Palin level in politics or business takes a level of blinkered self-confidence that comes mainly to (a very few) men. A lot of the people with this quality are annoying to be around. Maybe they aren't very happy with themselves. But it's not a surprise that a vice presidential nominee should be one of them.

The lesson of Sarah Palin for privileged women is to try harder. And that may be the toughest one to hear. (Ann Marlowe is the author of How to Stop Time: Heroin from A to Z and The Book of Trouble: A Romance.)

Holy cow, what an incredible back-handed "compliment," if it can even be CALLED that. Ms. Marlowe claims writers, intellectuals, and artists don't want power? For real? They don't want to be household names?? That's bullshit. I'm sorry, but that just is. What writer, intellectual, or artist does NOT want for people to know about their work, to know their names?? If they didn't care about any of that, they would all write/pain/"think" under pseudonyms or something (okay - that's a bit of hyperbole, but you get the point, right?). Again, she cannot stand to say anything that is just positive about Governor Palin, and let it stand at that. The essence of what she is saying is that Governor Palin worked hard to get to where she is. She IS college-educated, as was her dad, a teacher, and her mother worked as a school secretary (and go check out who some of her New England ancestors were, since Ms. Marlowe seems to be all about the East Coast). She has stood up to her own party, called them out on ethical reasons, and while she may not have spent her summers in Monaco or Martha's Vineyard, she has done quite a bit on her own, like running for governor - and WINNING.

And Sarah Palin is a feminist, who cares more about building women up than tearing them down (talking to you, MS. Marlowe), as the following video highlights so well:

THIS is what a feminist looks like, not what the East Coast Liberal "elite" determines are feminists. No, Feminism is meant to include ALL women, whether we all agree with each other or not. One thing about which Ms. Marlowe is correct is that Governor Palin worked HARD to get to where she is, and many other women have worked as hard to get to where they are, or to keep their heads above water. Not everyone wants to be a public figure. Some just want to be able to fed, clothe, and educate their children, and cannot afford a nanny, a maid, or a chauffeur - many of them ARE the nannies, maids, and chauffeurs. I might add, since Marlowe mentioned this too, freedom of choice means just that - the right to CHOOSE. And that means a woman can choose what she wants to do with her own body. Palin CHOSE to have her Downs Syndrome child; other women might not have. But that is each and every women's INDIVIDUAL choice. Sheesh, already!!

That is to say, when Ms. Marlowe puts down women like Palin, she is putting down a whole bunch of other women who have worked hard to be self-made women. Since Marlowe brought up "fake feminism," I would suggest she has engaged in a bit of that herself. Feminists need not all be "elites" - the whole point of feminism is for ALL women to be self-actualized, however that looks for THEM, as I have said befoer.

Oh, and one last thing - she and her friends may be "slackers," but I think many women will look at the videos of Governor Palin talking with with Greta van Susteren while making food for her kids' lunch as "same-o, same-o." In other words, the dripping disdain with which Marlowe and her friends, the self-proclaimed "elite," seem to hold Sarah Palin is probably why many other women like her - because she reminds them of themselves. They sure aren't slackers, either. Perhaps if Ms. Marlowe and her well-heeled, Ivy-League educated friends opened their eyes, they would see a whole bunch of women, are working their hearts out every day - probably some of their very own employees.

Wow - it seems feminism sure has a ways to go before ALL women are actually included, doesn't it? I have to say, though, Gov. Palin sure sounded a lot like Hillary Clinton in her desire for women around the world to live lives free of abuse, and full of choices.

Here's a little thought for Ms. Marlowe and her "slacker" ilk - maybe you should get off your collective high horse, spend more time actually LISTENING to what Sarah Palin says rather than assuming she's some hillbilly hick because she grew up in Alaska, who somehow fell into the Governor's Mansion, or all of the unsubstantiated rumors/diatribes about her. You might just learn something about her, and about yourselves, too. Like maybe just because people are Ivy-Leauge educated writers, intellectuals, and artists, they are not above putting people down based on zero or erroneous information to make themselves feel better about what they have/have not done with their lives. And maybe, just maybe, you can start to see women like Sarah Palin, and all women, as potential allies as opposed to potential foes. Just a thought.

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