Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sarah Palin and Sexism

I read and hear repeated references to Palin as "Caribou Barbie" and "Bible Spice" and it makes me queasy. It was funny for that first "ha ha" moment, but tapping into stereotypes about dumb/vapid women shouldn't be part the electoral discourse. Right?


  1. i would have agreed but that is the persona she plays.

    she promotes herself that way.

    me? i am so insulted by her being choosen out of all of the qualifed women out there that i do not care what is said of her.

    i liken it in a way to my being italian-amercan. there are still sterotypes out there, but i wouldn't defend a mob boss by insisting i have to stick up for him by saying that there's no such thing as a mob or that said mob boss shouldn't be called one.

    palin is no where near acceptable as v.p. any more than i am.

    political humor has been far worse in the past. does it cross the line at times? yes. palin just happens to be a woman. a dumb vapid, woman but one that will use whatever she can to advance herself. that just makes her an awful lot like george bush in a different gender.

  2. I don't know, Sherry. Just because she really seems to be lacking in intelligence, does that make it less sexist to use terms like Caribou Barbie? Don't we have to defend the women who fit the stereotype along with those who don't? Reducing Palin to a sexualized object to deride her campaign ... it feels wrong.

    Now the Bible Spice I'm more comfortable with, but that's because of my own issues with Bible thumpers. I'm dressing my dog up in a dinosaur costume I found at Petco with a little caveman attached. I tried to convince Ledcat that we should carry Bibles and be creationists for Halloween, but she's tired of my highbrown ideas.

    Still, the Spice component ... ehhh.

  3. i LOVE the halloween idea.

    i understand your point but i think that if she herself chooses to be viewed that way.perhaps it puts people off guard.maybe acting that way fits in with the fundamentalist views of her church. but if a person choose to be viewed a certain way that i feel that person's right to do so trumps my defense of all members of that group.
    but then again, she offends me so i don't much care. i'm no saint. i have my moments and buttons and she's a big big button.

    she does more to set back women by being who she is, the way she is than any person labeling her caribou barbie. i think the caribou should be pissed.

  4. "chooses"

    early morning typos, i'm off to a great start! ; )

  5. Sherry, good point.I totally agree.
    I don't feel the need to defend Sarah Palin or woman like her.
    You have to call a "spade a spade."
    Man or Woman.

  6. Agreeing w/ Sherry and "Eileen", FWIW. To the extent that Hillary did succeed in putting real cracks in that last glass ceiling (and by extension all the glass ceilings comparable to it) I'm honestly afraid McCain and Palin together are actively welding some of the cracks back together. She will be the female archetype most of us remember from the 2008 election, after all.

    "Highbrown"? Was that a typo?

  7. that's pretty much as i see it.

    she has, with the help of mccain and the far right, set women back years.

    and what she would do if she were vice president makes me shudder for my daughter and 4 year old granddaughter.

  8. So her actions deserve sexist laden commentary? Isn't that what Hillary's naysayers were claiming, too?

    We can dislike her, we can make fun of her, we can deride her. For her politics. Her personal choices.

    But I disagree that she deserves to be diminished to a barbie doll. You don't earn respect on tha level.

  9. It's wrong, wrong, wrong.

    Since when is sexism a progressive value?

    Sexist remarks demean ALL women.

    Try substituting a racist comment for a sexist one and see if it suddenly becomes a lot harder to defend.

  10. i don't see it as sexist as much as it is just what it is. she portrays herself that way. hilliary never did. hilliary never faked or phoneyed her way thru.

    if palin would have winked 1 more time during the debate i would have thrown something through the big screen tv at the club where i was watching. the men with me were cracking up. i was embarassed.

    ever see hilliary winking at a debate???

    and they are voting for her and mccain because they are either biggots and proud to be.i've been talking myself blue for months to them or they hated hrc because she "acted too much like a man" to paraphrase them. the like palin because she acts like a "woman!"

    so i've been dealing with out and out racists and sexists for months and months over this election and other issues.

    in a perfect world and a perfect election process on issues alone i would agree with you but it's not and i'm not so i can't get too worked up over barbie comments.

    as i said, i can see your point but those comments don't offend me nearly as much as that woman does or the fact the mccain picked her and so the republican party touts her as the perfect, modern woman who can be a working mom of 5 , and still be christian and biblical enough to defer to her husband and yadda yadda. to me she is setting back the woman's movement by decades.

    that's just my opinion.
    i respect yours.

  11. If Six Pack Sarah were a man. I would not like him.
    If she were a black man or woman, it would not matter. I would still think she/he is a complete stupid ass.
    If she were a Jewish man or woman, I would still think she's a jerk.
    All woman are not smart and some do not deserve to be where they are. And it's ok to say that.
    There are some real creepy woman out there. Just like there are some real creepy men out there.
    If we want to be completely equal, then we have to take the heat just as well as we take the praise.
    I was one of a few woman working in the predominately male FBI in 1975. The way my parents raised me, it never occured to me that anyone in my field would think less of me because I was a woman. I was wrong. This woman makes me feel like I am back in 1975.
    I equate Sarah Pelin to George W.Bush. If he's fair game, so is she.

  12. Everyone is entitled to their two cents. Some might say it better than others. It doesn't make their opinions any less valid.

    The world would be a far less interesting place if eveyone agreed.


  13. I think (hope) there is a difference between assessing someone's credentials to be President or Vice-President and simple schoolyard name calling. Personally I would put the "Bible Spice" or "Caribou Barbie" in the schoolyard category.

    McCain's staff has said of Barack Obama that he is an "arugula eating, pointy headed professor type", among other things. That is insulting at least, anti-intellectual for sure and possibly a veiled racist remark (along the lines of "uppity"). Now, if the McCain campaign said that Obama’s tax plan increases the national debt and Obama’s plan has a better chance of passing because of the Democrats in Congress, I would say you’ve got a point there. I think both sides should endeavor to keep the discussion at that level. And yeah, I think that Democrats should not say Bible Spice or Caribou Barbie, if only because it gives the Republicans a reason to accuse us of cheapening the debate.

  14. back. i had a tape in for the debate because i knew that the club where i was going to be, is about 98 percent republican. they are rabid republicans who after putting bush in office twice and really taking a hard hit ecomomically and with a lot of their kids gone into the military because of the lack of jobs or because of 9/11 and the admirable patriotism they had wanting to go to afghanistan and get bin laudin only to be shipped to the mess that is iraq are now admitting that bush was wrong but still willing to vote republican.
    so i figured i'd just watch it at home, but a good friend of mine came and wanted to watch with me, moral support for me, bless him. so we put it on a tv in the back of the club. i decided to see and hear for myself what those"joe six packs" that palin counts herself as(ha! her glasses cost more than some of thier mortgage payments)
    well, that was an eye opening expreience even for me and i've been a member there for 11 years.
    she mouthed sound bites and campaign slogans with no clear concise plans and they ate it up.
    most were looking for reasons to defend her and they loved the fact that she was a "real woman!" a barbie. "she wore a skirt", god!
    she was "flirty","nice legs"" the sexy librarian bull!" and on and on.

    that coupled with the outright racism gave me a huge headache by the time i got home and typed my reply.

    why do i continue to belong to that club? because there are some very nice people there AND i feel you can not change hearts and minds by either getting in someone's face or by walking away.

    one person can make a difference by example and calm rational debate and if only 1 person's mind begins to question the way they think and for the most part how they were raised then i would feel like i've done someting good.

    most people get along with me even if they disagree but last night i think my buddy and i made some enemies. i thank him for standing up for his views. he could have stayed home and not been open about how he thinks. he was born and raised in this very consevative
    little ex-coal mining town. i was not, which is one of the reasons i don't get grief to my face. that and they think that because i am a poet i'm supposed to be strange.
    i tell them, when politics or religion is discussed that i respect thier right to their opinions and i am glad they respect mine.
    in 11 years i have seen some change.
    that's a good thing.

    i am soon to be 57 years old. i have gone thru some of the overt sexism that others have not because they are younger. it was excepted. it was the norm. it was a very long and tedious road but my daughter had it better and my granddaughter will have it better still. at least i hope so and i work in my small ways to make it so.
    palin pushed the sterotype. she uses it to her advantage.
    if we get off track among ourselves over barbie comments trying to be fair, we lose big time.
    she's in the big leagues now.
    she better understand that if she thinks folksy and winks and sound bites will work with hostile world leaders she's in for a big bad surprise and we are in for even worse.
    putin is poking at the ukraine over georgia now. what is her attitude? we've already heard it and it and it scares the hell out of me.

  15. I'm simply saying using those terms is sexist. You don't have to agree with me. I never suggested we rip apart the fabric of the Democrat party over it or that is is even an issue. This isn't meant to launch a tirade against Sarah Palin, but a discourse on whether we have to hold ourselves to the same standards on sexist comment when it comes to women we despise. Sarah Palin may intentionally act, talk, walk, behave, think and exist like the living embodiment of the Caribou Barbie stereotype. Does that make it consistent with feminist values to use the label?

    I'm reading yes in a lot of your comments and that's unsettling for me. That's all. It doesn't change my vote. It doesn't change the way I think about your opinions or whether you should have them.

  16. no, i don't think it's right. i'm sorry if i didn't make myself clear. it isn't right but it is to be expected when someone deliberately acts the way palin does .

    people say things during an election.i'm sorry if i offended you or anyone else.

    that's how it goes. i myself have never said any of those things. i wouldn't. but i can't get really upset.

    maybe it's because i am older, maybe it's just my disposition.

    but i agree that saying things like that are not helpful except to point out the role playing on her part.

    that was some of the things i heard last night.

    "now SHE'S a real woman" "SHE knows how to behave..."

    crap like that. she knows what she's doing and it upsets the hell out of me.

    and some of those comments i heard were from other women.

    there were maybe 6 of us and about 40 men last night. it's small town america about a 15 minute drive from the city and they all vote.

    that's why i'm upset this morning. i expected it from some of the men. i did not expect it from the women.

    these are people who were turned off by clinton because she spoke well and made valid points.

    but palin, she plays to people that didn't like clinton. that is just frustrating.

    i am an obama supported but i have always respected clinton's intelligence and capablities and passion for justice.

    this dumbing down act of palin's this cutsy winking just was the last straw.

  17. Sue says:

    "Sarah Palin may intentionally act, talk, walk, behave, think and exist like the living embodiment of the Caribou Barbie stereotype. Does that make it consistent with feminist values to use the label?"

    What about the existence of irony? If I were to call her Caribou Barbie (I never have, but let's say something like that) implicit in that statement would be an acknowledgment that it's definitely a sexist term, but I am intending to be outrageous and thereby point out her own outrageous absurdity.

    It's the kind of thing I wouldn't say at a formal symposium, but I might say across my kitchen table or at the Home Depot. I also wonder what someone SHOULD call her if someone is trying to highlight her unfortunate bubbly vapidity vis a vis a common gender stereotypes.

  18. Bram,

    Now that's a good question because I am a fan of irony. Let me ask you this ... what SHOULD one call Obama when highlighting his commonalities with stereotypes based on race and class (ie, elitist)? I'm not being petty, just trying to put the discussion into context of someone we do like.


  19. i don't know. really i don't but then again, i see few sterotypes coming from him.

    i did see pictures of him playing basketball. maybe some racists might say something about that but????

    now, if he were to play up those sterotypes in order to pander, in either direction- the angry black panther 60's type or the subservient step'n fetchit persona then i could see people being ironic or just dismissive or what have you. he doesn't. he is just himself.

    so, to answer, i'm really not sure.