"Conservative feminist" dudes for Palin

Some men think "it's time for a woman to lead us," but unfortunately, they think Sarah Palin's the right woman for the job.

By Kate Harding
Published October 20, 2008 3:15PM (EDT)

"As a cold political calculation, I could not be more pleased. She has excited and energized our base. She is a direct counterpoint to the liberal feminist agenda for America." That's John McCain on "Fox News Sunday," in answer to the question, "Hasn't Governor Palin become a drag on your ticket?" I guess he has officially given up on wooing disappointed Hillary Clinton voters, huh?

You know, I don't really expect McCain to get that the "liberal feminist agenda" consists of somewhat more than a Post-it note on Gloria Steinem's fridge that reads, "Kill babies, castrate men, pick up dry cleaning." I don't expect him to get that without the work of liberal feminists, we wouldn't have female governors, much less a female vice-presidential candidate, today. But seriously, hasn't anyone explained to him about YouTube? You don't say shit like that on TV.

Or at this point, maybe you do -- as a "cold political calculation." If this New York Times article is to be believed, Palin's biggest fans are men who, judging by their "Proud to be voting for a hot chick" buttons, are not so big on liberal feminism. They do, however, display "a kind of 'conservative feminism,'" arguing that Palin's experience as a mother proves her competence at hard work and multitasking -- if not, you know, foreign policy. Also, it helps that they apparently think women aren't too competitive and won't get distracted by nookie. "The sexual drives and big egos of male leaders have gotten in the way of politics in this country," says former truck driver Larry Hawkins, who "would rather vote for Ms. Palin than for 'McCain and Obama combined.'" 

Is it just me, or are we through the looking glass here? On the one hand, it kinda warms my shriveled, black, liberal feminist heart to hear hardcore conservative men say things like, "Maybe it's time we let a woman lead us." On the other hand, they're talking about Sarah Freakin' Palin. Who comes as a package deal with John "'Health' of the Mother" McCain. And who, despite having benefited rather spectacularly from the feminist movement, is presented as a direct counterpoint to it. That makes my shriveled, black, liberal feminist brain hurt.


Kate Harding

Kate Harding is the author of Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture--and What We Can Do About It, available from Da Capo Press in August 2015. Previously, she collaborated with Anna Holmes, Amanda Hess, and a cast of thousands on The Book of Jezebel, and with Marianne Kirby on Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere. You might also remember her as the founding editor of Shapely Prose (2007-2010). Kate's essays have appeared in the anthologies Madonna & Me, Yes Means Yes, Feed Me, and Airmail: Women of Letters. She holds an M.F.A. in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a B.A. in English from University of Toronto, and is currently at work on a Ph.D. in creative writing from Bath Spa University

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