I’ve picked up, via CIF America, on a very interesting blog compiled with material from women, both Democrat and Republican from across
I have struggled to describe my feelings about Sarah Palin being selected to join McCain on the Republican ticket. What is not surprising is that she and I agree on practically nothing, apart from what constitutes a flattering pair of glasses. Her glasses may end up being the most popular thing about her.
So, I was never going to find much common ground with the anti-choice, pseudo feminist (boy, is she suffering from false consciousness!!) Republican VP choice. No, Sireee!
But, my real interest is not really in the lack of common political ground that she and I share but in the impact that a serious female vice presidential candidate will have on women, women in politics and any increase in women’s power.
Personally, a candidate being a woman has never been enough to secure my vote; she still has to be good enough. I am aware, though, that what and who I might consider the ‘best’ candidate and the ‘good enough’ candidate may be different from other people’s views. I suspect that my selection criteria are not all that traditional.
And I still think, on any set of criteria, it is far too easy for a mediocre man to win over a good woman in politics. It is my experience in work and politics that you have to work much harder and smarter to be taken seriously as a woman than you do as a man. I long for the day when there as many mediocre women in politics and boardrooms as there are men – then we will know we have real equality!
And even before you get to the point of trying to be taken seriously, there are still many de facto barriers to entry and participation and, let’s face it, good old fashioned prejudice. This ensures that we only attract and put a tiny proportion of the talented women out there into positions of real power. We are much better at discerning talented men from mediocre men than we are discerning talented women from mediocre men.
But would having a female VP be good for women in general? Would her breaking the glass ceiling as a serious VP candidate be good? In the same way that I believe Hillary being the first serious candidate for presidential nomination, has been good for women? In the way that Condoleezza Rice going around the world frowning at male presidents and leaders from all over the world has provided a role model for young black women? Whatever their politics, you have to admit that just having them on, doing their stuff on the TV in the background must impact the way people think about women’s abilities, surely?
Or would the fact that she has been pulled in as a vapid symbol, lacking in experience, knowledge and so lacking in any real comprehension of the complexities of life that she looks for her answers in religious dogma? And like Margaret Thatcher, it is perfectly possible for a woman in power to be no friend of other women. I was worried that because she is one of the most high profile women in the world all her personal failings would be translated into women’s failings, using the same logic as this rather brilliant cartoon from xkcd! (via Feministing)
This has been my major concern. Because she is not good enough, because she is a sort of anti-role model, I’m terrified that all women will be tarred with her brush.
And then I have also struggled with some of the sexism that has been meted out to her. Sexism that is flung at her may just stick on us all. Each time one woman suffers from sexism, we all do; whatever side we’re on.
So, ‘consternation’ is how I would best describe my feelings about Sarah Palin. One of the contributors to the women against Sarah Palin blog says:
“I am all about women stepping forward and taking our rightful place among the leadership of this great nation. However, not this woman, not this time”.
But surely, if we want women in power, we have to accept that we won’t always get to choose our favourite women, like when democracies choose governments and political parties that we ourselves wouldn’t choose? You can’t just throw out democracy because you don’t like the choices being made and perhaps you can’t just decide to wait for women to be in power until one comes along that you can agree with.
Urgh! I am in a dilemma and in a bind and what I really want to know is what sort of heuristic is Sarah Palin being (see the talented Mr Stockley for an explanation of that one!).
What will, come November 5th, whether she is in the White House or not, be the gut feeling that Sarah Palin’s candidacy speaks to, the short cut that she helps us make?
Does the voter who does not have the time or inclination to sit down and look at policies, or will young people only just starting to become politically aware, look at her and think that it is reasonable and normal for women to be in positions of power and if she can do it so, then so can any woman.
Or, will the most memorable thing about the first serious female VP candidate be that is she a token woman only there because of her ability to procreate and still look good and the Republican’s cynical ploy to pick up the female voters who wanted Hillary to be the first woman president in the US? Will people think that we’d be better off with a more experienced man? Does she undermine not only women’s candidacy but also their role as voters?