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Posted by on Jun 1, 2011 in At TMV | 26 comments

Is Chasing The Palin Birth Hoax Story Sexist?


SEXISM: Prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically
against women, on the basis of sex. ~ Oxford English Dictionary

A fellow TMV contributor and a frequent commenter tried to take me to the woodshed last week — picture if you will the contributor grabbing one arm of a 6-foot-2 guy with broad shoulders and big biceps and the commenter my other arm — because of their pique over my latest whack at the Sarah Palin birth hoax conspiracy story.

Both made it clear that while they find Palin reprehensible as a politician, they believed my interest in the story is simply because I am sexist.

I understand that sexism, like racism and some other isms, can be in the eye’s of the beholder, and some other commenters came to my defense, but I was puzzled as these two people poured on the invective.

I happen to be someone who had a salutatory record for hiring women for what traditionally had been men’s jobs in the newspaper business, who received awards from women’s organizations for my initiatives to bring gender balance to newsrooms and for investigative projects on issues of concern to women, especially poor single mothers, who mentored two women who went on to win Pulitzer Prizes, who had a mother who was a feminist before that term was widely used, who raised a daughter and has more close woman friends than men. Oh, and contributes to Planned Parenthood.

So I was puzzled to read their comments:

“This little crusade you’ve got going on seems like sexism qua sexism, and nothing else.”

“[You use] an age-old sexist tactic: acting like legitimate criticism of long-used sexist memes is just thin skin.”

“Saying that a woman is unfit for power because of what she does or does not do with her genitalia is one of the oldest forms sexism, Shaun, and it’s not changed in thousands of years.”

“[Your comment] is pretty undeniably and blatantly sexist.”

“This sort of reproductive womb policing has been used to shame women in deeply hurtful, fundamentally unfair ways for the length of recorded history. It’s been sexist for literally as long as there has been human society, so, um, it’s still sexist now.”

An aside: If I were a woman, would my pursuit of the Palin story still be considered sexist?

And another aside: Does going after a prominent male politician for refusing to answer questions about an aspect of his personal life that calls into question his honesty or fitness for higher office constitute misandry when the journalist is a woman? If not, isn’t that a double standard?

* * * * *

Speaking of double standards, I was remiss in not noting in my post last week that Palin’s own record when it comes to demanding that her opponents and enemies produce certain documents makes her . . . well, I don’t want to get into any more trouble with the woodshed police.

Anyhow, Palin’s surrogates demanded that John Stein, her opponent in her first race, produce a marriage license to prove he was married because his wife had retained her maiden name. When he produced it, the surrogates claimed it was forged.

Palin also got on the Obama birther bandwagon early, and up until the day that the president produced his long-form birth certificate repeatedly called on Donald Trump to keep digging about the “true” circumstances of his birth.

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