In the segments of her interview with Katie Couric aired Tuesday night, Sarah Palin (University of Idaho, journalism, '85) revealed that she reads "all" newspapers, mentioned that one of her best friends is gay -- and dropped the F-bomb. No, not "foreign policy."
When Couric asked Palin if she considers herself a feminist, Palin said she does. "I'm a feminist who, uh, believes in equal rights and I believe that women certainly today have every opportunity that a man has to succeed, and to try to do it all, anyway," Palin replied. "And I'm very, very thankful that I've been brought up in a family where gender hasn't been an issue. You know, I've been expected to do everything growing up that the boys were doing. We were out chopping wood and you're out hunting and fishing and filling our freezer with good wild Alaskan game to feed our family. So it kinda started with that."
Who knows if Palin was merely offering her own simplistic-at-best definition of "feminist" ("woman who does anything 'strong-seeming'" -- Pandagon), or if she was crossing her fingers behind her back. And, as many have asked: Can a "feminist" be "pro-life," or anti-moose-choice? But in this particular context, that question may be a bit of a Bering herring.
Of course, we all know that Palin was picked to do bizarro double duty: palliate the far right and PUMAs alike. And that in the fallout that followed, the GOP "suddenly discovered sexism." So you could say, pretty convincingly -- given her ticket's positions and her vile, vainglorious self-linkage to Hillary Clinton -- that, actually, Gov. Palin, Gloria Steinem called, and she'd like her fucking word back.
But I also see, amid the muck, a faint (very faint) flicker of upside. Empty (or damaging) as the ploy may be, it's at least noteworthy that the "feminist" arrow is in the McCain camp's quiver at all. I mean, Palin called herself a feminist. For culture warriors, Pandagon also notes, the very word has become "fetishized evil." Perhaps someone thought Palin would alienate more women by saying no to Couric than saying yes? Huh! Maybe -- I offer feebly but sincerely from my fainting couch -- it's a perverse sign of progress in altogether twisted, unwelcome circumstances. It's revolting to me that she's using the word so glibly, but interesting to me that -- perhaps -- at least someone over in McCain land thinks she has to.