today in black history

June 23, 2024

Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas was born on this date in 1948 in Pin Point, Georgia.

No More Mr. Nice Guys

POSTED: September 16, 2008, 12:00 am

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Throughout this presidential election cycle, the issue of gender equity has been front and center, beginning with the bid by Senator Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination and now with the addition of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to the Republican ticket as the vice presidential nominee. In each instance, the media and political pundits attempted to walk a fine line between pandering and appearing overly aggressive toward these female candidates. However, the very manner in which these women have been treated is in direct contradiction to the elimination of gender barriers and the fulfillment of feminist ideals of equity and gender-neutral norms in our society.

We witnessed Senator Clinton cry and the male dominated media immediately surrender any notions of objectivity. Compared to the infamous Ed Muskie moment in New Hampshire when the press suggested the presidential contender, en route to the offices of the Manchester Union Leader to respond to its critical coverage of his candidacy, shed tears in response to a question; Clinton’s “feel my pain” moment was immediately cast as legitimate, with no one questioning her fitness to serve simply because she displayed emotion. Granted, Ed Muskie was living in 1972 America but I would bet that Senator Obama or any of the other male candidates would not have been granted a pass had they cried on the campaign trail in the same setting in which Senator Clinton had her moment.

Now comes Governor Sarah Palin; who herself projects the image of a gun toting, hard core, Northwest wilderness conservative. A relative unknown outside of her home state and among Bible thumping, gun toting evangelicals, this governor of a sparsely populated state and former small town mayor, has been projected onto the national political landscape by Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain. Despite being positioned “one heart beat” away from the Oval Office if elected, many in the media have already decided to excuse her from the scrutiny an individual seeking the office of Vice President should receive. Why? Because she’s a woman. Enough already.

“While advancing abstinence as an effective family planning approach, Governor Palin’s unmarried, teenage daughter is pregnant. Not only is it contradictory to her own policy pronouncement, it is hypocritical given her alleged Biblically rooted family values agenda.”

Already we are hearing that her family should be off-limits. Why? Her husband, Todd Palin, apparently has played a major role in advising her politically and is now under indictment. Todd Palin is fair game. Governor Palin’s role in the dismissal of the state police chief has come under question since Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan refused to dismiss the governor’s former brother in law, State Trooper Mike Wooten. The governor’s sister was involved in a messy child custody battle with the trooper. The so-called “Troopergate” episode is the subject of a state investigation. Given the seriousness of the charge, the incident is fair game in this campaign. While advancing abstinence as an effective family planning approach, Governor Palin’s unmarried, teenage daughter is pregnant. Not only is it contradictory to her own policy pronouncement, it is hypocritical given her alleged Biblically rooted family values agenda. The governor promoted an aura of moral exactness and embedded it in public policy. Therefore, Governor Palin and the circumstances of her daughter’s pregnancy in the context of public policy is fair game.

The only way to break the gender barrier is to break the gender barrier. What I mean is that gender neutrality must extend to the manner in which we hold women accountable in the home, workplace and community. For too long in our country men have tempered their critique of women in public positions for fear of being viewed as boorish, intimidating or sexist, yet by using “kid gloves” we simply feed into longstanding stereotypes of women as intellectually weak and emotionally unstable; and reduce them to sexual objects. Thus, the round of doctored photos on the Internet of a bikini clad Governor Palin and the obsession with Senator Clinton’s hairstyle and choice of clothes.

Skipping over more qualified women in the public and private sectors who were credible and no one would have questioned their fitness to serve as Vice President, Senator McCain took the low road and selected a caricature who could be propped up for photo ops and hurl insults upon command. Lipstick on a pig? Don’t insult the swine.

Risking being viewed as politically incorrect, I contend Senator Obama selected a seasoned United States Senator as his running mate and Senator John McCain chose the political equivalent of a Campfire Girl to score gender points. To further insult our intelligence supporters of Senator McCain now label unfair any criticism of Governor Palin’s obviously lightweight credentials to sit in the number two chair. Am I sexist for calling it out or is Senator McCain for feeding into the stereotype? You be the judge.

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