The Banalization and Infantilization of Women

November 12, 2008

Now they are blaming Palin for Obama's success. Granted, for argument's sake, that is WAS her fault (it wasn't), didn't those who appointed her KNOW about her lack of experience, her lack of polish?

Did they really think a woman like Palin would get them the women's votes? Don't they have the first idea about the female mind? Specifically about the American female mind? Could they really assume that an American female voting public, raised in a culture of sexual envy, a voting public that has undergone the gruelling experience of proms and "beauty pageants", would vote for a slim, pretty and markedly FEMININE looking woman like Palin? Couldn't they anticipate that everything about Palin, her looks, her relative youth, her husband, her children (HER FERTILITY!) would be the cause of intense jealousy? Didn't they see that Hillary Clinton, whose votes Palin was supposed to grab, goodlooking as she may be, does exactly NOT convey such an image? That Palin comes across as (at least to me) totally unbitchy, may have added to all this.

And now they are blaming that woman for the failure of the most inappropriate and unattractive presidential candidate imaginable (with the possible exception of Cynthia McKinney).

The epithet that comes almost invariably to my mind if I see a female politician is "simpering". Palin is no exception. It seems that a woman in politics has the choice between being "simpering" and "butch" and almost all of them end up on the simpering side. Somebody who seems to have largely escaped that predicament is, yes, Hillary Clinton. Our Angela Merkel is on the butch side, although not to an offputting degree, Maggie Thatcher was, too. Mind you, this is neither endorsement nor negative criticism of any of those women's politics, and I choose for the "butch" examples European politicians because I am not familiar enough with American politics to find credible examples across the Atlantic.

However, all this is a recent (post-Sixties) phenomenon. If I think of the first women who made their way into politics and who were, so we can safely assume, first-generation equality feminists, then it becomes obvious that neither of them was simpering and only a few were butch. But then, they thought they had a job to do and were not looking for a gig, photo ops and inflation of their own importance. It seems as if second-generation gender feminism has, opposite to all it claims to stand for, banalized and infantilized women.

As an aside, here in Germany, in predictable anti-American Pavlovian drooling, women of both sexes went over the top about the expenditure for Palin's outfit. I wonder how much sartorial, make-up-artist- and hairdressing genius it took (and cost) to make our Chancellor Angela Merkel remotely presentable for a public office.


And now the disclaimer: I do not endorse Merkel's politics. Sacred Heart Socialists, as any other Socialists, disgust me. But I admire that woman hugely for her total lack of vanity and for the businesslike attitude she shows towards her high office, and I remain adamant that the horrible "Cleavagegate" incident was based on a bet. It simply MUST have been.

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