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Posted by on Sep 4, 2008 in Politics | 10 comments

Sarah Palin: Potential Downsides of Being a Forceful Woman

Consider that tonight Governor Palin was speaking to ‘her people.’
Her people were indeed wowed.
Her talents are obvious.

However, in the larger world, it remains to be seen how Governor Palin’s many talents will play, for it is still sometimes true in our culture, no matter how developed we might be…

that a man who is bold in attack, is often seen as authoritative, manly
Sometimes a woman who is bold is seen only as ballsy, pushy, castrating, not womanly… in essence, not dependable.

–Men have rules of engagement in battle (most of the time) and can thrust and parry; and listeners often remark on ‘the debate’ and on the elegance or inelegance, buffooning or grace of each opponent. And men, whether lawyers or politicians or sport players, or other, are often invited to meet for rematch another day.
A woman who uses smiling thrust-and-parry that draws blood or not, even when she is right and abov-board, is often seen as snide, covertly vicious, a harridan, a scold, trying to start a ‘cat fight,’.. in essence, untrustworthy. Women whom others decide are ‘cat fight starters’ are not seen as heroic as men often are, but as divisive. They are not invited to a gentlewomen’s rematch; they are often marginalized instead.

–Actual satirists who deliver satire seamlessly are often praised and create a following.
Politicians who use sharp-edged satire, as Governor Palin did tonight, risk confusing a good number of ‘undecided’ listeners about whether their intention is comedic or serious, retaliatory or leaderly.
–A woman in politics or business who attempts scathing or skewering humor, is often enough seen as bitter, vengeful, overtly or covertly angry.

when a man is quick to judge and arm a plan, he is often considered decisive, ‘taking care of business.’
–when a smart woman is very fast to be decisive, she is sometimes seen as impulsive, unreliable, in essence… labile.

–Even when a woman is right , when she carries a chronic scornful tone of voice, a rolling-eyes-at-ceiling look that is mocking, many persons react negatively… even those who might agree with her premise… for they know if she will do it to another, the day will come when she may aim same at them.

There is more to say, but this is an article, not a book. lol. Yet, I would say this last about women in general who are in the public eye…

I have written here at TMV before… that women in politics and high-profile positions are sometimes treated in the MSM with highly-unusual attacks on their looks, allusions to their menstrual cycles, their ages, their attractiveness, their sexuality, their wife-liness, or singleness; their children, or their not having children, what they do or don’t do with their families.

Too often, the words used to describe them sometimes seem way, way out there, serving no revelation, devoid of accurate facts, psychologically way more than just simple dislike or different preferences.

Yet, I think we all note that anyone who sticks their neck out publicly for political leadership –male or female– will be barraged by ‘everyone and their mother… and father’ … both pro and con.

Yet, are women in the political public eye treated more scurrilously than men? I honestly don’t know. It appears, however, that women are often treated ‘differently,’ especially when the opinion/analysis–media or otherwise– is purely negative.

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Copyright 2008 The Moderate Voice
  • Silhouette

    That’s it! Don’t hold back….lol.. Just let the sexism FLOW….

    Here’s an exercise kids. Insert the word “black” wherever you find “woman” in this article.

    Uh huh….

    NOW you see what it’s all about.. Absolutely intolerable…the preservation and rampant acceptance of sterotypes. Now we know why Hillary didn’t get the nomination. She wasn’t keeping her place…

    And you gotta believe it too because Dr. Pinkola-Estes said it. A REAL PhD has confirmed that women must be thought of and treated differently…always…forever…

    Yes um’ boss..

    Just utterly unbelievable..

  • archangel

    dear Silhouette, my goodness. That’s not at all what I said, did I? I am saying that sometimes outspoken women are seen this way… e.g., as know-it-alls who ought be reigned in, scorned, ridiculed, put down. That men are often not seen in the same terms.

    I may be wrong, but I also thought I said, in the end, that I dont know if women in the political public eye receive more screed than men in same position. But when it’s aimed at them as females with regard to sexuality, looks etc, it seems so.

    Could we insert the word black? I think that’d be a different set of blowbacks perhaps. Latino? I live it. I’d have to give your suggestion more thought.

    I hope women, as men, as blacks and latinos and all other people by whatever group name they call themselves, will have parity, and perhaps more, not be so immediatly run over when they raise their heads above the skyline. I am not sure that that can always happen on earfth.

    I think it is worth trying to explicate and learn tho.


  • Leonidas

    Downside of being a forceful woman, the liberals will absolutely hate you because they have convinced themselves that only a liberal woman can be independent and forceful. I’ve seen so many comments around the blogosphere from liberals that Palin needs to stay home with her family, that she somehow slept her way to the top, that she gets by on only her looks or the fact that she is a woman, etc. Luckily, most of America is more enlightened than these folk, or at least not so blindly filled with a Sullivanesque sleeze.

    But there is little to worry about since Sarah is a strong, intelligent, witty, politically savy and self-made sucessful woman, she can handle herself just fine.

  • onleyone

    praise the lord ‘n’ pass the kool-aid!

  • From Leonidas:

    Downside of being a forceful woman, the liberals will absolutely hate you because they have convinced themselves that only a liberal woman can be independent and forceful.

    Oh, I don’t know about that. Coming from a family full of independently thinking, strong-willed women, you don’t tend to develop the illusion that such traits are inherent to one political persuasion or the other. Plus, having been in the South for over ten years, I’ve had much more liberal friends than I admire those traits in conservative women as well – if perhaps grudgingly :).

  • MaryL

    Forceful and honest is admirable. Forceful and vain, smug, petty and dishonest is not. She lied about her record (the Bridge to Nowhere — again?) and she lied about Obama’s record. I’m not even talking about the usual spin politicians indulge in — I’m talking about brazen lies.

    You can keep your cult of personality. It worked so well with Bush, didn’t it?

  • GeorgeSorwell

    This doesn’t have anything to do with being a woman, but some people in the media decided to do their jobs and check the facts about Palin.

    Associated Press: Attacks, praise stretch truth at GOP convention:

    Washington Post: Palin E-Mails Show Intense Interest in Trooper’s Penalty

    Slate: How can smart people say such dumb things about Sarah Palin?

    I don’t think Palin is a mythic figure. I think she’s just another politician.

  • CStanley

    I think what’s lovable about Sarah Palin- and I think will have a huge impact among even many women who don’t agree with her politically- is that she does show how to overcome the very phenomenon that you describe here, Dr. E. She shows that you can be tough as nails but not nasty, and deliver scathing criticism with humor and grace. In other words, she displays a very specific type of feminine power, and does it quite well.

  • Not that it matters in the slightest, (and I feel the need to apologize even as I type this) but doesn’t Palin have that kind of voice that Republicans have long accused Hillary of having?

  • spirasol

    How the USA can claim to value democracy with its current oligarchical and fascist leanings confuses me in the same way that a woman can claim to have benefited from her feminist leanings but be strictly pro life, and work for a party representing wealthy white men.

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