Sunday, October 26, 2008

Judith Warner gives Palin her due, but not as a post-feminist ideal

Among other flattering things that Judith Warner says about Palin in her column today, Warner calls Palin "no ordinary woman." Indeed, that is the column's title. Warner quotes former congresswoman Bella Abzug who three decades ago said: “Our struggle today is not to have a female Einstein get appointed as an assistant professor. It is for a woman schlemiel to get as quickly promoted as a male schlemiel.” Warner translates this as "women will truly have arrived when the most mediocre among us will be able to do just as well as the most mediocre of men." By this measure, Warner suggests, the Republican choice of Sarah Palin for V.P. was a more momentous event than Hillary Rodham Clinton's serious bid to be the Democratic nominee.

Here is a an excerpt that touches on a couple of gender issues:

Palin is a woman who has risen to national prominence without, apparently, even remotely being twice as good as her male competitors. * * * She is a woman who is able to not only get by but also be quickly promoted on the kinds of attributes that were once the exclusive province of unremarkable white men: rapport, the right looks or connections, an easy sort of familiarity.
Warner quotes Donny Deutsch who summed up the Palin phenomenon as “women want to be her, men want to mate with her." Deutsch labels her a "new creation" and suggests that she represents what the feminist movement hasn't understood.

Warner attributes Palin's breakthrough--that is, her success--to the fact that she threatens no one. Her closing comments are damning with faint praise, saying that even Palin's better-than-average qualities don't qualify her to be V.P.

I'm hoping Warner is right. Not only does Palin not have the qualifications to be V.P., I'm convinced that her ascension to that office would be retrograde for women in so many ways.

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