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Don't Hate Me Because I'm Beautiful

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If I read one more time that women dislike Sarah Palin because she's attractive--or that men like her for the same reason--I'm going to eat my own head.

The masturbatory celebrations of ossified, conservative men at FoxNews not withstanding, most of us are engaged this election season by the issues. We’re terrified by the possibility of a depression and struggling to pay mortgages, keep kids in college, put food on the table.

If we need any more evidence that mainstream media does not represent the mainstream, look at Time Magazine's Belinda Luscombe this week. She argues that women are "weapons-grade haters" and once we "get our hate on" there is no stopping us in our efforts to destroy any woman in our sights. Our targets? The pretty ones. We "hate" Sarah Palin because she is attractive.

Let's be clear:  Luscombe argues in all seriousness, in one of the most respected news magazines in the country, that women are petty, small and have "self-esteem issues" that drive them to dislike this candidate because she's pretty.

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I know, right? Wow. Just, sheesh: take it in. The depraved misogyny, the misplaced anger, the projection. It's been my experience that grown women left such silliness behind sometime around high school--right about the time we acquired jobs and responsibilities.

Which brings me to the content and tone of Palin's campaign strategy. Her own petty, dull-witted and hateful ideology may trigger similar responses in some of the women around her; perhaps the ugly turn she and McCain have taken lately has drawn out the worst of their supporters. (Witness recent calls for Obama's assassination at McCain rallies.)

Camille Paglia argues in Salon that "not since Madonna" have we seen a woman on the public scene embrace "pro-sex, pro-beauty feminism" so fully. Talk about projection. Palin embraces nothing resembling feminism and Paglia knows this. If she wants to wax fondly (breathe heavily) over Palin like the guys at FoxNews, that's cool; but she shouldn’t insult her reader’s intelligence pretending this argument is about anything but her own attraction to Palin/Bible Spice.

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Sarah Palin would deny abortions to victims of rape and incest, has charged rape victims for their ER rape kits, cow-tows to John McCain like a dutiful daughter to an aging patriarch, parades her special needs infant like a trophy to herself, and flirts her way through the Vice-Presidential debate.

Feminism, my ass.

She is a walking stereotype, an abomination: all dressed up and hollowed out, a pin-up, or blow-up doll (pick your metaphor of female submission) upon which men and women alike project their ugliest fantasies of women. She invites this ugliness with her nasty politics and self-righteous banality--then manages to turn that invective on other women.  Therefore, I am not here to defend her against sexist commentary or media attacks.

I am here to remind us that we are not her, that women deserve better (are better) than to be compared unfavorably to an updated version of a Stepford wife. The cognitive dissonance of calling this woman a feminist, of claiming thinking women envy her beauty threatens to short my circuits and send smoke puffing out of the back of my head.


 

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Kellie Bean has been a Professor of English at Marshall University, an Associate Dean of Liberal Arts, and most recently, Provost of a small New England College. Author of "Post-Backlash Feminism: Women and the Media Since Reagan/Bush" (McFarland (more...)
 

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