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The Palin Legacy: Sexism in Reporting

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message kellie bean       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   5 comments

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So the Palin thing seems to have worked itself out--for now. She's back in Alaska and a long way from the White House. I no longer have to worry that War-Monger Barbie might wind up being President. Even better, the man who grumbled and scowled his way through the campaign with her is also not president.

In the media we have spent much of the past 48 hours congratulating ourselves: we have served our better angels, decisively rejected the meanness and division characterizing the past eight years of American political discourse. And yet...

That discourse came from somewhere. 

Indeed, the media tendency to separate the weakest from the herd, to parse and assign blame is alive and kicking. The ravenous glee with which the media are celebrating Palin's personal failings is testament to this. Don't get me wrong; she was a bad pick, ungracious and smug for sure--not to mention dangerous, misogynist and proudly ignorant of basic civics, geography and history.

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But McCain is the one who selected Palin as his running mate; he was willing to endanger the country in service to an impotent campaign stunt. "Hey, look at me! I can pick anyone I want. I'm the nominee--nah, nah, nah, nah, nah!" He should have known better; he did know better, but served his own cynicism rather than his country. 

And despite his own meanness, brittle condescension and arrogance, he will fare much better than Palin. He'll eventually (sooner rather than later)  be given a pass and get back to the august business of governing. She'll become a late-night joke. Can anyone say Monica Lewinsky?

During his concession speech it was clear: the McCain campaign had used Palin, the stunt didn't work and now they were discarding her. She sought eye contact and was ignored, was made to stand aside like a child in time out. She looked lost, an actor on an unfamiliar play bereft of the script and stage manager.  So thoroughly out of her element and so plainly cast aside, she seemed pitiful.

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If we have indeed chosen a higher road this election, it is my sincere wish that the benefits of this choice redound to women as well as men. My fear is that in this woman we will feel authorized to vent what's left of our rage over the past eight years, and trade one prejudice (racism) for another (sexism).

Palin was hideously unqualified, but it was John McCain who banked on our cynicism, trusted in our lesser selves.  John McCain believed we were less than who we are. Let's put away petty, sexist parsing and continue to prove him wrong.

 

 

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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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