Recently Amy Siskind, President of The New Agenda, published an article pleading with America to see The Undefeated, a film that celebrates Sarah Palin. To not “get to know her”, states Siskind, is sexist. I would argue that continuing to prop up this dolt is reverse sexism.
When Palin burst onto the national political scene I was first surprised (I had anticipated another running mate being chosen by McCain), then curious (she did not yet even have a Wikipedia page at the time) and then, much like a teacher that hopes her student does well when called on in class, I hoped that she would prove to be a strong woman for the role. I will admit that I harbor those desires for women in politics — even when we do not share political views — because there are so few of us.
Then, as her lack of qualifications and loose grasp of the issues began to surface, I was horrified at the cries from some that women should continue to support Sarah Palin because…well, just because. You know, she’s a woman and I’m a woman. She’s a mother and I’m a mother. She likes shoes and I like shoes. That should be enough to support her bid for the vice presidency, right?
Setting the crazy and emotional fervor of the ‘08 campaign aside, it’s time to take a real look at this almost-candidate — who now might run to be the leader of the free world — and see what she has shown us. That first involves the assumption that the person we have seen on her reality show, in interviews, in clips run almost daily by the media, via Twitter, on Facebook and on Fox News ad nauseum is the “real” Sarah Palin. (It further involves the assumption that I have seen enough of Sarah Palin to “know her” and that her mock-umentary is not, as Siskind suggests, going to suddenly open my eyes to a new depth of her persona, but rather that it is self-promoting propaganda thinly disguised as cinematography. But I digress…)
It is not a sexist media that caused Palin to call our Commander-in-Chief “dithering” while on foreign soil. She came up with that on her own and relished in it. (“I realize that America has a tradition of not criticizing our President on foreign soil BUT…”) The media did not force Palin to insult an entire culture’s painful history by using the term “blood libel”, and in fact it is widely speculated that she was specifically asked not to say such things on air. And it is not because we are a sexist society that many of us do not refer to her as “Governor Palin”. She left office early; it’s etiquette; let the title die.
And Sarah, if you don’t want to be mocked every time you incorrectly answer a question about history or government or current events then here’s an idea: use some of the massive wealth you have accumulated to take a refresher course on any of those topics! Erin Andrews, esteemed ESPN correspondent, studies sports facts constantly. Katie Couric, one of the most well-respected female journalists of our time, still reads news. Madonna and Lady Gaga continue to rehearse and do vocal exercises. To believe that a winning smile will get you where you need to go without any additional work behind the scenes is the very definition of sexist.
Siskind is certainly not the first to draw comparisons between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Palin. As two of the most prominent women in politics, it would difficult not to invoke Clinton when Palin’s rise in her party is mentioned. However, there are other strong women involved in politics that deserve mention, such as write-in victor Senator Lisa Murkowski who has proven time and again that she is willing to stand up against her party to support what she believes in. Americans truly have not yet “gotten to know” Murkowski very well — possibly due to the fact that she does not travel everywhere with a camera crew in tow. If the coverage of Sarah Palin is sexist, is the lack of media coverage of Lisa Murkowski sexist as well?
There is still a level of discrimination and sexism — usually unintentional — that still exists in the media both as a profession and in how women are portrayed. On most of this topic I’m sure that Siskind and I would see eye-to-eye. In fact, I’m currently reading and feverishly nodding in agreement to Mika Brzezinski’s book “Knowing Your Value“. In it she discusses the idea of working hard and having to be more assertive to get where you want to go as a professional woman. She interviewed leading women in politics, technology, business and media and all of them generously shared their wisdom and experience. Remarkably, none of them came back with the advice of “fake it ‘til you make it and then blame everyone else when you fail”.
So here’s the million dollar question: as I rail against Palin’s media coverage then why bother to discuss her in any capacity? In the words of Ernie, I’ll show you Bert. Right now a few dozen people are either officially running or considering a run for President of the United States. It is still likely that Sarah Palin may be among them. If she declares her intention to be our leader, she will inherently have a huge advantage — the type of name recognition and media coverage that even all of Mitt Romney’s massive fundraising cannot buy. In other words, she actually has a chance to win the nomination.
For those Obama supporters that may be wishing for her to win the nomination because you think that she will be a weak opponent, I invoke my residency as a Floridian as Exhibit A against that terrible idea. One would have thought that a corrupt CEO who was involved in one of the biggest Medicare fraud schemes in history that has the personality of Voldemort would have been easy pickings. Do you know what voters do when they are not excited about the candidates? They stay home. Hence, the Governor-who-shall-not-be-named.
We cannot rail against politicians for not taking our problems seriously when we do not even take our own democracy seriously. Does that involve putting forth the most qualified candidates and not handicapping them because of gender, how many catch-phrases they have or how quaint their small town is?
Originally published Huffington Post: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/shawna-vercher/response-to-amy-siskind-i_b_871902.html