« Watch What They Do, Not What They Say | Main | Angry »

September 05, 2008


That's quite a post title there ...

"How this will effect the race, I have no idea, but it’s just got to."

I think he must mean "affect", and this kind of mistake - perhaps unfairly - does tend to make me think he isn't really thinking about what he writes...

(Typos and even spelling mistakes like "loose" for "lose", not so much: but the difference between "affect" and "effect" is something real - it's like mixing up "discreet" and "discrete".)

If I understand the post correctly, Palin represents traditional female power (motherhood, rules the home). But why would a backwards notion of female empowerment make her more effective politically? I would think most women would see that "power" as pretty limiting. Hillary, on the other hand has a modern appeal and represents the woman who has influence beyond her home and family, one who can effect* change in places that have a lot more impact. I would think Hillary's sort of power would appeal to more women because it doesn't constrain them to being master of the house but little else. And of course Hillary is also a mother, so she covers that base as well.

Jes: I loved the comment you left. I think Obama is wayyy (with 3 y's!) more attractive than McCain, while Palin is just way more attractive than Biden (he's a real family guy, that's kinda sexy). So going purely by attractiveness, the Dems have a lock on this election.

*-I'll use it correctly for you Jes ^.^

There are lots of patriarchal cultures where mothers can have a lot of influence, even though formally excluded from all public life. Think of traditional Mediterranean cultures like Italy or Greece (or indeed the influence of the Sultan's mother in Ottoman history). And the comic stereotype of the mother who is really in charge of everything and tells the father and her sons in private what to do exists in both Hindi and Jewish culture (and probably elsewhere).

Wilkinson seems to think that the same cultural images prevail in some parts of US culture and that therefore Sarah Palin may appeal to such voters. I think he is confused in talking about why these images of mothers exist, but he may be right that they do exist. I ended up recently comparing Sarah Palin to a medieval queen, because that seems to me in some wierd way how she's being positioned: as McCain's consort, rather than an independent politician.

magistra: That's a pretty interesting take and it makes some sense. I'll have to learn a bit more about Theutberga in particular (I kinda had Isabella in mind before I read your post and she's not a perfect fit), but that might be one of the best ways to view her position in McCain's campaign.

I think you're absolutely right, magistra. McCain did, after all, call Palin a partner and a soul mate. *boggles*

I was groping my befuddled way toward this thought a couple comments ago on a different thread. I wrote something about it not being Presidential or Vice Presidential to promote oneself as a hockey mom because in our culrure moms don't openly run things outside the home/kid/school curcuit.

So Wilks is saying that she is running as a powerful mom. He thinks that's good.

It probably is with some people but I thinkk it is a turn off to lots of others. For one thing she can't be the power behind the throne if McSame dies and he looks nearer to that every time he speaks. Also lots of people for various reasons, not all of them sexist, resent powerful mom figures. I resent the passive aggressiveness of that sort of thing. To me, if someone of any gender wants to run things, fine. Step up! Let's see what you can do! But I really hate the people who thry to run everything while also trying to seem as if they are not.

The decsion to scream sexism constantly fits in with the decsion to promote Palin as old fashioned mom. She's supposed to be on a pedistal, immune to criticism. I don't think that works in our contemporary culture either. She can either get out into the pubnlic eye and catch the same flak as a aman or take her marbles and go home. Maybe people of my mother's generation think a woman can run the show from behind the scenes while publically getting the on-the-pedestal treatment, but most boomers or younger are just going to see that as muddled, incnsistant, and ultimately hypocritical.

Awesome post title, really. Some more thoughts on The party of fecundity at the link.

To put it as crudely as possible, I think the Palin nomination has sexed up the Republican party, while Obama has to de-sex himself to avoid seeming threatening.

Ooh, Paglia! Thanks for the reminder. I can't wait to see what Camille has to say about Sarah. I'm sure it'll be a hoot! < rushes off to Salon.... >

Krauthammer refers to Palin as a "wing-nut" and describes McCain's selection of her as "characteristically reckless" -- though those words don't seem to be particularly negative in Krauthammerspeak.

Sarah Palin will do exactly....zero of the Sunday shows this weekend (per Laura Rozen).

When will she be interviewed by the press?
When will she be interviewed by the press?
When will she be interviewed by the press?
When will she be interviewed by the press?
When will she be interviewed by the press?

One might think that she's, well, scared.

I wonder if this might be a good time for the Obama campaign to attack Palin? You know, if they're keeping her under wraps, then it's an opportunity to define her before the McCain campaign gets a chance to. And that Bridge to Nowhere line she keeps repeating is soooo easy to disprove.


Let's try this one out:

What is Sarah Palin hiding?
What is Sarah Palin hiding?
What is Sarah Palin hiding?
What is Sarah Palin hiding?
What is Sarah Palin hiding?

Will apparently likes Palin because she's hot in a motherly kind of way. He says he has a "deep distrust of democratic politics" but I'm not sure if he realizes he is Exhibit A in that argument.

I think if one wanted to examine women's roles in politics, one would want to examine more than just Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin. Hillary is a charged figure in politics after over a decade of sexually-based attacks. Sarah Palin is a complete newcomer, who at this point is primarily defined by her motherhood and her looks because she's not had time to be defined any other way- she's been on the national stage for *one week*. (And, of course, because she doesn't want to be defined any other way if she can help it).
But there are plenty of other female senators and governors to use in an examination of female political power in American politics. Are they mothering? Do they exclusively use feminine power? Is Hillary exceptional in embracing non-feminine power? I think no- Hillary is just the only one to take herself national.

I think Will is right about her trying to promote identification with Christian moms (not exactly a key demographic for Democrats anyway, so no worries). I think he's wrong in thinking that she can ride this all the way to November- if she doesn't start defining herself in the next few weeks she'll lose momentum & look empty. And in the process of that definition, she's going to have to own some opinions (eg no rape exception on abortion) and statements (eg "thanks but no thanks") which will drastically reduce her appeal to independent voters or crossover Dems.

And he's wrong about her being hot- to each his own, I guess. Maybe Im just not into 'hot mommy'. Thank jeebus.

Shorter Will Wilkinson: "Sarah Palin is a MILF."

I musta left my paglian chthonicity in my other suit. I mean, what can you say to somebody who finds that stereotype (visual, not just actual) of a tiny-minded outer-suburban housewife and hater of outsiders sexy? If I need an aphrodisiac, can I choose strychnine?

Which, of course, is monstrously unfair of me, but goddammit, he started it! I am tempted to quote Ogden Nash's rhyme "See the mothers in the park" but it's too misogynist to post here or anywhere; also false, except when I lay eyes on this sort of creature.

"Maybe Im just not into 'hot mommy'."

I don't know how old you are, but when you're over 35, 40, or 50, you may find that quite a few women are or have been, hot mommies.

It's not a matter of being attracted to, you know, your mommy. Or attracted to Sarah Palin.

Or into the sort of jaw-dropping bizarro theories and feelings Will Wilkinson is into, to which I can only say: eeeeuuuuwwwwwww.

Just that one might want to consider the prospect that it isn't just childless women who are always, or will always, be attractive.

It's not a matter of being attracted to, you know, your mommy.

Yeah, I didnt mean I only like childless women. It's the sexualizing of the mother role that some people like, but it just makes me cringe. mlif I take as just "older woman", which is fine with me. But when someone gets turned on by someone playing the mother role- well, as you say, eeeeuuuuwwwwwww.

But there are plenty of other female senators and governors to use in an examination of female political power in American politics. Are they mothering? Do they exclusively use feminine power? Is Hillary exceptional in embracing non-feminine power?

I don't know about US politics, but I can't think of many UK female politicians who have had a strong mothering air. (The nearest would be some Labour women who were quite keen on hugging people in an earth-motherly way: Mo Mowlem and Clare Short spring to mind).

Margaret Thatcher had adult children and didn't play up the maternal side, though her genuine concern for her hopeless son Mark was variously seen as vaguely touching/vaguely ridiculous. Her sexual appeal (I gather) was to upper class British men whom she reminded of their nannies. She didn't try to be the 'mother of the nation', like Indira Gandhi or Golda Meir, which may say something about British images of motherhood being less 'tough' than Jewish/Indian.

I'd say it's only fairly recently that Western culture has changed to allow possibly 'hot' female politicians. It's the combination of politicians as a whole becoming prominent younger and women being seen as attractive for longer. You couldn't easily have a female politician widely seen as 'sexy' in a senior position in the days when women were seen as no longer appealing at 35 and all senior politicians were at least 50.

I looked it up, out of curiousity. Our current government consists of 16 men and 11 women, jongest woman is 37, jongest man is 39. Our house of representatives (150 members) consists of 88 men and 62 women, joungest member is 20 & male, oldest is 71 & female.

President of the house is female & 51. Partyleaders of the parties in either government or house-of-representative: 7 male leaders (ages 41, 42, 44, 45, 46, 53, 66) & 4 female leaders (36, 41, 42, 52).

Our Senate (not directly voted for, part-time function) has a female leader too, 53 years old, and consists of 49 men and 26 women (looking up their ages is too complicated, there is no list).

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad