Thursday, September 11, 2008

Forgive me, but Scully was right: Smart is sexy

Glancing over the front page of Salon yesterday, I saw that the unutterably tiresome Camille Paglia has a new aren't-I-clever? contrarian idea: Sarah Palin is "a powerful new feminist force." (No link.)

Poor CP: She had a couple of interesting ideas 20 years ago (I was impressed by how she made Madonna make sense in Sexual Personae), but instead of quietly living out the rest of her life as a professional tenured crank with a little coterie of grad student groupies sleeping with each other at the conventions and attacking each other in the niche journals, she snorted the crystal meth of media attention during the early 90s culture wars, and now she can't make it through the day clean.

And with the issueless McCain/Palin campaign putting culture wars back on the front burner, Paglia's back in gear. Well, that's Salon's problem

Meanwhile, Salon had a much saner piece today, by staff writer Rebecca Traister:

What Palin so seductively represents, not only to Donny Deutsch but to the general populace, is a form of feminine power that is utterly digestible to those who have no intellectual or political use for actual women. It's like some dystopian future ... feminism without any feminists. […]

The pro-woman rhetoric surrounding Sarah Palin's nomination is a grotesque bastardization of everything feminism has stood for, and in my mind, more than any of the intergenerational pro- or anti-Hillary crap that people wrung their hands over during the primaries, Palin's candidacy and the faux-feminism in which it has been wrapped are the first development that I fear will actually imperil feminism. Because if adopted as a narrative by this nation and its women, it could not only subvert but erase the meaning of what real progress for women means, what real gender bias consists of, what real discrimination looks like. […]

But if we inadvertently paved the way for this, then the Democratic Party mixed the concrete, painted lanes on the road, put up streetlights and called it an interstate. The role of the left in this travesty is almost too painful to contemplate just yet.

For while it may chafe to hear Rudy Giuliani and John McCain hold forth on the injustice of gender bias, what really burns is that we never heard a peep or squawk or gurgle of this nature from anyone in the Democratic Party during the entire 100 years Hillary Clinton was running for president, while she was being talked about as a pantsuited, wrinkly old crone and a harpy ex-wife and a sexless fat-thighed monster and an emasculating nag out for Tucker Carlson's balls. […]

Which leads us to my greatest nightmare: that because my own party has not cared enough, or was too scared, to lay its rightful claim to the language of women's rights, that Sarah Palin will reach historic heights of power, under the most egregious of auspices, by plying feminine wiles, and conforming to every outdated notion of what it means to be a woman. That she will hit her marks by clambering over the backs, the bodies, the rights of the women on whose behalf she claims to be working, and that she will do it all under the banner of feminism. How can anybody sleep?

If Palin is the "powerful new feminist force," who wants it?

Or, I should clarify: who wants it who has any use for women?

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