Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Glass Crack: Painfully Palin

(originally posted 10/08 at wordpress)

by Gwen Davis

The Glass Crack is a new weekly column from PSU Grad Student Gwen Davis that revisits the previous week’s news stories and looks at them through a feminist eye. Granted, personal opinions, bias, rhetorical questions, and perhaps even a few logical fallacies will appear. At times it may seem like the author is confused, and that assumption is totally correct because many ways of the world—especially people—do not make sense. Comments, suggestions and guest columns are welcome and encouraged. Let this be an honest place to discuss the unfair, the beautiful, the perplexing, the wrong, and the right.

The title of the column is a reference to those 18 million cracks in the ceiling Hillary Clinton spoke of in her concession speech:

Although we weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it’s got about 18 million cracks in it. And the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope and sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time. That has always been the history of progress in America.

- Hillary Clinton

With the presidential election mere weeks away, I have become increasingly interested in the Sarah Palin debacle. One news organization postulated that the initial excitement that surrounded the Republican Vice Presidential nominee was a result of voters considering her to be an answer to a non-existent Hillary Clinton Democratic ticket. Unfortunately for Republicans, hopeful women, and many swing voters Sarah Palin is not Hillary Clinton — to the relief of Democrats.

I recently received an email from a very good, liberal friend of mine from Colorado. The email contained an article written by Eve Ensler, playwright best known for The Vagina Monologues. The article expressed Ensler’s disgust over the McCain/Palin ticket. “I am a Feminist and have spent my life trying to build community, help empower women and stop violence against them,” she writes. “It is hard to write about Sarah Palin. This is why the Sarah Palin choice was all the more insidious and cynical.”

The Republicans have been masters of rhetoric and sneaky politics for longer than I am aware. I believe Sarah Palin was picked for one very specific reason: to win Clinton voters. The instant the announcement was made my heart sank, the momentum of the Obama campaign began to slow, and the race to the White House took an ugly turn toward personal attacks rather than the real issues facing our nation and the world.

It seems as though my presumed paranoia was, in fact, a reality. Within weeks another email arrived in my inbox. This time it was a letter from Kim Gandy, the president of the National Organization for Women. She expressed her frustration with the word feminist being used in conjunction with Sarah Palin and the fact that many Republicans see her as the new “face of feminism”. Scary.

Perhaps even scarier is the fact that some Republicans are weary and alarmed as well. The Huffington Post recently posted an article by conservative columnist Kathleen Parker. Regarding the recent interviews given by Palin, Parker believes Palin has shown she is “an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League”. There is something about a conservative Republican not supporting a conservative Republican that is especially disconcerting.

But to test my theory about the effect the Palin addition to the Republican ticket made, I spoke with my grandmother about who she would vote for in November. In her early sixties, my grandmother was a two-time Clinton voter despite being a lifelong Republican. With the addition of Palin to the ticket my grandmother was sold. The only reason she could cite for her newfound excitement in the Republican ticket was the fact that she never thought she would see a woman on a presidential ticket in her lifetime, a tribute to how far we have come.

Ironically, the very things Palin believes in are the very things that prove how far we have yet to go. Ensler wrote that the McCain/ Palin ticket “is one of the most dangerous choices of my lifetime… and the fall-out may be so great, the destruction so vast in so many areas that America may never recover” to which I agree. Palin was chosen to blind people to the conservative and oppressive machine behind the Republican Party.

While I agree, although wish it was under different circumstances, having a woman on the most powerful ticket in the world — second in command of freedom and democracy — should happen and will happen, I do not think being a feminist requires that I vote for Sarah Palin. On the flip side, I hope women do not think they are feminist because they vote for Sarah Palin. This is a trap I fear many will fall for, and I hope that everyone realizes that what is best for women, what is best for our country, unfortunately is not represented by a woman in this election.

When the crowd chanted ‘Drill, Drill, Drill’ at the Republican National Convention Ensler thought of rape, thought of destruction, thought of domination, thought of pain. I think of a nation so painfully divided, uninformed, and unaware of the total destruction we are doing to our planet and humanity. This election is paramount. I would rather see my grandmother’s hopes for a woman vice president crushed than have her witness all that Americans have worked toward during her lifetime become obsolete.

***The WRC would like to remind our readers that the SheSheet serves as a voice and outlet for students. This article was submitted by a student and doesn't necessarily reflect the views or positions of the Women's Resource Center or PSU.***

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