Getting bit by the hand that feeds you

I’m no fan of Sarah Palin’s—not what I (seem) to know about her as a person, politician, or product. I’m just waiting patiently (okay, maybe not all that patiently) for the day she disappears from the public life. I think she’s disrespectful and hypocritical, but this doesn’t change the fact that I feel she’s had to endure quite a lot of disrespect herself. First, there was the hockey game where she was booed, which would have been fine in my eyes were it not for the fact that her kids were with her, though, on the flip side, maybe she shouldn’t have brought her kids to a political event or used them as a means to political points (anyone ever notice how, when she gave speeches, Bristol was usually in the background of the shot?). So yeah, I didn’t really approve, but I’m willing to let that one slide at least a bit.

But recently I feel like she’s just been slammed with disrespect—from her own party as well as (though it pains me to say this) from feminists.

Sarah Palin does not represent women. She stands against many issues that help women and so many (most?) feminists cannot stand her, but lately I feel they (we) have been too quick to dismiss the oppression she faces because they disagree with her.

First, there was the issue of Rahm Emanuel’s use of the word retarded. I can’t fault her for calling him out on this, and I actually feel like she stands for this issue due to something deeper than politics. But then, when Rush Limbaugh used the same language, she was strangely reticent in her criticism, saying that she agreed with him.

This is some of the hypocrisy I’m talking about, but I want to take this issue one step further, into the realm of speculation, since I have no hard evidence to back up this thought: Sarah Palin can’t afford to offend Limbaugh. Ultimately, she’s still a woman in a party that is predominately interested in representing (upper-class, white) men. It’s a party (and a political environment) where it is completely acceptable to criticize women based on appearance instead of policy, that has only 21 female representatives in congress compared to 71 female democrats, that supports a politician who believes women not work outside of the home, that holds anti-feminism bake sales and catch an illegal immigrant days. It’s a party that believes that a century after gaining the right to vote, women still need others to make voting decisions for them. Palin supports a party that will use her when it’s convenient (gotta get all those Hillary voters who are so uneducated they will vote for anyone with a vagina) but silence her quickly if she steps out of her place.

And calling out Limbaugh would have been stepping out of her place.

And Palin knows this.

But when she didn’t speak out forcefully against Limbaugh, or against the legislator who said disabled children are god’s punishment for previous abortions, the main feminist response seemed to be one criticizing her hypocrisy. And yeah, it is hypocritical. But where’s the deeper examination? Where’s the look into what might have caused her to call out a democrat but not a republican? You could argue that she put herself in this situation, that she chose to be a republican, but that sounds to me an awful lot like saying the rape victim is partially responsible because she chose to wear a short skirt, or chose to have a few drinks.

That’s not my feminism. Sort of like the symbol of the American flag represents the same laws that allow dissenters to burn it, I try to extend my beliefs to all, even those who seem dead set on working against them. I still don’t like Sarah Palin and I can’t imagine that will ever change, but I have been feeling for her a bit these past few weeks, because even if she chooses to ignore the lessened state of women in our culture, it affects her. Even if she chooses to work against the rights I believe all women should have, it affects her. So I may disagree with her, but I don’t believe that changes the fact that she deserves to live in an environment that doesn’t treat her as she seems so set on treating others.

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