Even if she disappears from the scene forever after a McCain defeat, Palin will still have made an enormous and lasting contribution to feminism. As I said in my last column, Palin has made the biggest step forward in reshaping the persona of female authority since Madonna danced her dominatrix way through the shattered puritan barricades of the feminist establishment. In 1990, in a highly controversial New York Times op-ed that attacked old-guard feminist ideology, I declared that "Madonna is the future of feminism" -- a prophecy that was ridiculed at the time but that turned out to be quite true. Madonna put pro-sex feminism on the international map.
But it is now 18 years later -- the span of an entire generation. The instabilities and diminishments for young women raised in an increasingly shallow media environment have become all too obvious. I had grown up in a vibrant pop culture with glorious women stars of voluptuous sensuality -- above all Elizabeth Taylor, sewn into that silky white slip as the vixen Manhattan call girl of "Butterfield 8." In college, I feasted on foreign films starring sexual sophisticates like Jeanne Moreau, Anouk Aimée and Catherine Deneuve. Sex today, however, has become brittle and superficial. Except for the occasional diverting flash of Lindsay Lohan's borrowed bosom, I see nothing whatever that is worth a second glance. Pro-sex feminism has worked itself out and, like all movements, has degenerated into clichés. And even Madonna, with her skeletal megalomania, looks like a refugee from a horror movie.
The next phase of feminism must circle back and reappropriate the ancient persona of the mother -- without losing career ambition or power of assertion. Betty Friedan, who had first attacked the cult of postwar domesticity, had long warned second-wave feminists such as Gloria Steinem about the damaging exclusion of homemakers from their value system. The animus of liberal feminists toward religion must also end (I am speaking as an atheist). Feminism must reexamine all of its assumptions, including its death grip on abortion, if it wishes to survive. Camille Paglia at Salon Magazine
I think there are two things going on here with Palin and I think Paglia gets that.
One, she is a political extremist and her experience is too involved in the "good ol boys" posturing politics, for me.
It is those kind of politics that I don't like about Palin and basically that is what liberals don't like as well.
Instead of articulating such...liberals HAVE responded emotionally to her. They have been petty. They have been namecalling and snobbish.
The Democrats instead should focus on the campaign and on communicating why they are the party for people and helpful to economc growth and security and focus on the country.
The second thing going on...is in fact true to what Paglia says. Palin may not be exactly my kind of politican...but she is a huge leap to the mainstream for the emotional imagination of women and feminism.
Palin embodies a formally ignored feminist.
It is also true that the feminist effects of Madonna didn't surface until all those little girls who sang along to "papa don't preach" and "express yourself" started dating and getting into the work force. Those simple childhood passions in music filtered into girls who were raised in macho latino families, in repressive patriarchal suburbs and gave those young women a sense of empowerment.
I think Paglia has missed something though...and that is the power of feminist icon of Oprah. The thing is Oprah has represented and served the "homemaker feminist" for two decades across race and economic incomes.
When Oprah endorsed Obama her ratings dropped massively. She has lost part of her audiences.
What Palin is...is that lost Oprah audience.
Except for her actual politics and policies Palin is representing all kinds of women across the board even upper class women who are liberal...they might be complaining and trashing her right now...but that is because they have worked hard at smoothing out the rough edges via university and Martha Stewart or studying "high culture" like wine, bookclubs, home decorating and art.
People have vastly underestimated how Palin has captured the imagination and she is a force to be reckoned with: it's pure genius.
But don't get me wrong, she is not my cup of tea, I am not a "fan" but I am able to see and uderstand that she is touching lots of people. I also don't think she is stupid. I think she has policies that are so rigid it makes her appear stupid. She is not.
Did you see the Couric stuff?
Now my breakdown of this clip...that has been floating around the internet with jokes is such: Yes, Palin does look dumb when she is asked "what sources for news does she read?" she says ahe reads "um, all of them".
...BUT...see how she catches Couric. She points out that Couric isn't really asking her which papers she gets her news from...
Couric is under polite pretense saying "Alaskans are dumb and don't have newspapers are cut off from culture or public life etc"
Palin has heard it all before. She is aware of the kind of redneck jokes people tell about people in rural areas. (we have Newfie and Polish jokes in Canada) she knows the world thinks remote places like the Appalacians, Alaska, or Wyomming are not considered cosmopolitan or international or worldly: hicks, inbred, stupid, parochial...and Palin recognizes the game Couric is playing.
For me Couric looks like a snob and a "mean girl" in that clip. And Palin is not to be suckered in. She may not have the answers that liberals want to hear but she is well savvy with knowing the point of their questions is to cut her down...not find out who she is...
The thing is...there isn't one kind of feminist. Like women there are all kinds ranging from having beliefs against abortion to being pro-choice, for the death penalty, against it. Palin's presence in mainstream culture is a sign of the varieties of thinking among contemporary culture. Many of the issues that Palin supports are long overdue to be revisited, discussed and argued about within women's society. And within our culture in general. Palins presence and popularity in mainstream culture is also a sign of civil conflict.
Oprah turned down having any politicians on her show for the election. She said she couldn't because she is not neutral...but the interview of the century just might be a future one with Palin and Oprah.
P.S. If you're looking for a hip roast of Sarah Palin, please read the Rolling Stone neo-Hunter S. Thompson article by Matt Taibbi clicking on these yellow letters.
The Economist set up an image of what if the whole world were voiting, click on yellow text.