Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 5, 2008 7:27PM

Sarah Palin = Auntie Tom

Rate: 11 Flag

Jezebel muses today on what it is about Sarah Palin that is so absolutely enraging. In particular, "What's infuriating, and perhaps rage-inducing, about Palin, is that she has always embodied that perfectly pleasing female archetype, playing by the boys' game with her big guns and moose-murdering, and that she keeps being rewarded for it."

I think there's more to be said on this point: Palin's ascent and presentation is one that is thoroughly traditional, not feminist. Her career and views seem to be ones of an incredibly ambitious woman who has had to play by some incredibly confining rules set up by the boys for women like her. In other words, "Okay, we'll finally let women take leadership roles, but here are the rules, so you don't get out of control."

What are the ways in which Palin embodies these sexist rules?

  • She's number 2, not the top of the ticket.
  • Her very appointment is a testament to the paucity of women leaders in the GOP -- had there been more choices, perhaps McCain would have chosen someone with fewer drawbacks.
  • She's a mother of 5 children, so her "woman" credentials cannot be challenged.
  • She constantly downplays her ambition and her accomplishments, even though the ambition is oozing out of her ears.
  • She dumbs herself down.
  • She embraces the frantic mommy role, both literally, and figuratively for her leadership roles.

To me, Palin seems not like a trailblazing, hard-charging battering ram, but a gray fascimile of that ideal, and one that is neatly confined into the small allowed space for her to exist, completely controlled for the comfort of the men who created those rules.

The enraging part of her candidacy is that Republicans are trying to claim feminist points via this very traditional woman.  This is yet another Big GOP Lie.

Palin is not a woman who worked to challenge the rules -- she is not someone who, for example, worked for the right and social acceptance of a woman not having children. Instead, she has embraced those rules and put her own personal political ambitions ahead of any concern for a longer-term greater good for women in general. Few can be faulted for this, and women are already chastized for thinking of themselves instead of others plenty, but she nevertheless has done this.

By obeying the GOP rules, she reinforces them. In a way, her appointment is a confining message to other similarly situated women: see, this is what you need to get to VP - a husband, kids, PTA mom credentials, a pretty face, self-effacement. etc.

By following those rules, she is co-opted into the patriarchal system that set them up and becomes complicit in their rigid enforcement. She hinders the long-term future opportunites for women of diverse lifestyles and choices, including possibly her own daughters. In fact, she harms those opportunities by allowing herself to become the posterwoman for these rules more than she would if she had rejected the VP offer and remained in relative obscurity. That makes her an Auntie Tom.

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I hate to even call it her 'candidacy' since she was more or less selected and approved by McCain, to her and everyone else's total surprise. That's not a candidacy so much as a gift.
This is right on target. I was writing about the evil she embodies in another type of piece earlier today---fictionalizing it.You spell it out. Exactly.

Very nice piece!
Sandra, I'm not so sure that she was selected by McCain, while he certainly approved her.

I think that she's another "Confederate Flag", i.e. a case where he compromised what was left of his principles to enhance his chances of winning over the wingnuts and becoming President. She, on the other hand, no doubt sees this as a springboard to 2012.
By following those rules, she is co-opted into the patriarchal system that set them up and becomes complicit in their rigid enforcement. She hinders the long-term future opportunites for women of diverse lifestyles and choices, including possibly her own daughters.

I am concerned about the same. I posted on this idea today by backing into it, without too much judgment on her, but on the packaging chosen for her. I have been warned if you found my post, I could expect WWIII. I am ready == have at me, if need be.:)
Sexy vs. Plain
Spot on. Palin's is not a trail-blazing candidacy, it is an extra lock on the cell door of American womanhood. Your post thrilled me and saddened me.
The enraging part of her candidacy is that Republicans are trying to claim feminist points via this very traditional woman. This isyet another Big GOP Lie.

This is the nub of the whole thin, and it is indeed enraging.
"Palin's is not a trail-blazing candidacy, it is an extra lock on the cell door of American womanhood"

pretty succinct summary of Madame's point
Condi Rice as a powerful partner of a President doesn't fit this narrative. She's single, no kids, all career...plays the piano!
McGarrett, you could always go with "honorary man" or "surrogate wife" for Condoleeza Rice. I'd go with "honorary man," because one of the quirks of the realm of international relations in the university environment is the high odds of a person having a personality to match the analytical framework that they typically use for analysis. Since Condoleeza Rice is a realist in those terms, then it's no surprise that she's a forceful personality and embraces a more "small 'c' " conservatism.

Put it another way, you don't end up as a university provost if you're a wilting blossom - it's an enforcer role.
The clock is already ticking down on Sarah Palin's 15 minutes. She is on the wrong side of history's sweep. All the rest of you smart women of diverse lifestyles and choices can breathe easy. Palin's daughters, not so much.
Right on, Madame! And, as I look at and listen at Sarah Palin, I keep thinking of other women I've known who are like her. You know -- we've all seen 'em -- they wear spike heels and they work out for Jesus. At first glance they might appear to be "strong women," but in the end they're serving nothing but the purpose of some man or other. Yeah, I've been around long enough to have seen a few of 'em.
I think more women are getting the Auntie Tom aspect than is coming through the haze of the media hype. As an anecdotal case in point (I told the story earlier, on Liz Emerich's blog, I think):

My mother-in-law, bless her heart, had this to say re Palin to my wife on the phone (yes, I was out watering the lawn): " Didn't like her. Came across as pushy...*like the sort of woman who pushes other women out of the way*."

My mother-in-law is 78, Republican (thus my watering the lawn), Lutheran, no college, has lived in the same small town (pop.
What the hell happened to the rest of the post?

It continues: pop.
Infuckingcredible, I guess the comment editor doesn't like the "less than" sign!

continue: population less than 9000, worked for the county much of her life.

I don't know if this means she'll vote Dem -- I doubt it -- but at least the story may not be playing out 100% the way the Republicans hope.

WOOF
"they wear spike heels and they work out for Jesus"

funniest line I've read in awhile!
You all simply must see Donny Deutch's ugly thoughts on the "marketability" of Sarah Palin.
Oh, this is so true! You've helped me see why I can't just let this go - even though I think it's tactically smart to move the focus away from Palin and back toward winning this election.
A woman made it! I think that is wonderful! You would take away all that joy with soulless agendas that you seem to think are prerequesites for fulfillment.

Palin strikes me as someone who plays her own game very well. And who is happy with her life. I am stunned that all you see is a compliant, grey woman. That is not what voters responded to during and after her speech -- it was her aliveness.

Does her stunning success make any of us lesser for it? Of course not.

I don't understand the lack of generosity of spirit when it comes to another woman.
Palin is not the girl in HS who took on the administration to equally fund the girls' soccer team. She's the girl who was good at soccer, but because it was poorly funded and dinky, became head cheerleader instead. She works within the patriarchal paradigm instead of changing it.

Plus, her speech was basically mean personal zingers and vague generalities about loving her country. People love a mean girl zinging someone, but I thought it was pretty crass. How DARE she criticize barack obama's public service -- how much lower can you go?!