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If you are like me and believe that politics is merely simulation, a female politician picked up for the McCain vice-presidential ticket should come as no surprise. Barack Obama gave John McCain an opening by not picking Hillary Clinton, and he expectedly capitalized on it to call the liberals on their own “18 million cracks in the glass ceiling” masquerade and hypocrisy. He picked Governor Sarah Palin despite her inexperience and lack of foreign policy understanding to appeal to both socially conservatives and maybe some of the Hillary bloc, but the fact that she bears a striking resemblance to Tina Fey (voted #1in the Top 100 Hot Women on AfterEllen.com) is as close she is getting to being pro-women, pro-choice and pro-gay — and the Hillary voters.
Lets face it – Picking her is a smart move at first sight, until you consider what a hard-core conservative Sarah Palin is — she is a life-long NRA member, staunchly against a women’s right to choose to the point where she is a member of Feminists for Life, opposes same-sex marriage and even civil unions. Seeing her wielding a gun on national television had me a tad-bit disturbed (after hearing about President Cheney using his friends for target practice in the woods, I don’t want to see another aimless rifle-wielding politician). Her ecologically footprint and anti-environmental policies are just loathsome. It’s certainly not appealing to independents and Hillary voters. A better choice would have been Christine Todd-Whitman or Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. Do see this post at Culture Kitchen on this note who says Republicans cannot even get their feminists right–Yes, they aren’t looking for ‘feminist’ women, they want a ‘real woman‘–whatever that means!
Make no mistake, Governor Sarah Palin is a McBush/McCain in a skirt that is neither a signal for ‘change’ nor breaking any ‘glass ceilings’ for women. Picking a woman for office, especially a woman with a track record such as Sarah Palin–is no guarantee for the advancement of women’s rights or the destruction of the gender-regime that oppresses all of us. It is actually a step-back for women and a reification of the gender-regime so firmly entrenched in our society.
In the following weeks, you will undoubtedly here ‘identity politics’ playing out in the form of ‘gender-speak.’ The Republicans will show her as a ‘ballsy’ even Thatcher-like strong-armed yet strong-valued woman from the conservative base who knows how to successfully play hardball with oil/energy companies, fit the ticket and be an alternate to Clinton’s ‘whiny’ self. She will be masculated in all the right ways and feminized in all the right ways. Get ready to hear stories about her workout routine, moose stew dinners, how she rides a motorcycle and calls her husband the “first dude.” And before, after or during these stories, get ready to hear about Palin as a beauty queen, as a working-mother of five children and a dedicated wife to her husband, and salutes to her ‘soccer mom’ or ‘hockey mom’ persona. So gear up to hear an endless exploitation of Sarah Palin as a “woman,” some disparaging comments about Catherine McKinnon-type feminists from the Republicans and consequently, the amplification of the oppositional (male/female) discourse of gender. If these Presidential elections are not about black/white, then they may be about male/female–where both major parties skirt around the real issues and try to pretend to stand for ‘change.’
Just remember, as Obama declared yesterday (in a speech that even moved me), it is not about him or any candidate, it is about YOU. Of course, the media would probably repeat and regurgitate the fact that for the first time in the history of the United States, either a ‘black’ man or a woman seems poised to serve in the two highest offices of this country. It makes for a great movie, the total entertainment package.